Online Sunday School. The Gospel of Matthew, God with Us,. Kerygma materials, Chapter 3. Matthew, Chapter 1-2. Matthew’s Christmas Story

118 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[h] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’[i]Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[j] 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”[k] 19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

  1. Matthew adds to Mark unique stories of the origin of Jesus. These make his theological points that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jewish scriptures, including that God comes to the whole world, not just the Jews.
  2. Matthew’s Christmas story is more about Joseph than Mary or Jesus. Mary, has become pregnant before her marriage due the Holy Spirit. Obedience to God is an important theme in Matthew. Joseph is righteous and obedient to God in accepting Mary rather than quietly rejecting her, reminiscent of the righteousness and obedience of Abraham. God is changing the rules here.
  3. Jewish Scripture, such as Isaiah 9, 2-7, had predicted the coming of a Messiah, anointed by God, who would break the rod of the oppressor and establish the kingdom of David with justice, righteousness and endless peace. The angel tells Joseph to name the child “Jesus” because he will save his people from their sins. This evokes the suffering servant passages of Isaiah, such as Isaiah 53, 1-12. The angel calls Joseph “son of David”, emphasizing the view that the Messiah is to be a descendant of David.
  4. Jesus has a miraculous birth, a tradition honoring the most significant people in those times. This supports the view that Jesus is the Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. In Jewish history this suggests other miraculous births like Isaac and Samuel. Conception of the Messiah by a virgin invokes Isaiah 7, 14 and particularly the Septuagint (Greek) translation that was then widely used.
  5. Matthew shows Jesus born in Bethlehem, the home town of David, fleeing to Egypt and returning, invoking the original Joseph, Moses and the Exodus.
  6. Gentiles, here “magi” from the East, probably priests or astrologers from Parthia or Persia, honor Jesus as a king, while the deceitful Jewish king Herod, who serves Rome, plans to kill him as a threat to his own power. The chief priests and scribes identify Bethlehem as the place from which the Messiah will come, quoting Micah 5, 2 and 2 Samuel 5, 2. The star the Magi follow is also associated with Messianic prophecy, Numbers 24, 17.
  7. The Magi find Jesus at his house in Bethlehem, kneel and pay him homage. They leave three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, which are associated with wealth, anointing and embalming.
  8. When the Magi do not return to Herod, he orders a slaughter of infants resembling that done by the Egyptians from which Moses escapes in Exodus, as well as invoking both the original Joseph and the Passover.
  9. The family escapes until Herod’s death, then comes out of Egypt to Nazareth, which becomes Jesus’ hometown. The word Nazareth invokes other Old Testament passages, including the “shoot” arising from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11, 11), and the “Nazirites” separated and dedicated to God. Numbers 6.