As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
- What does God reveal about Himself?
- How is your own heart revealed?
- How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
- Turn these truths into prayer and praise.
11 December Mt 1:1
Matthew presents Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah in whom God’s promises are fulfilled. Many times he writes words like: “This took place to fulfil what was written in the prophets.” So it is fitting that he begins his account by tracing Jesus’ descent from Abraham through King David. God promised that through Abraham the world would be blessed, and through David would come a Ruler whose Kingdom would never end. Be comforted, says Matthew: Jesus shows that our God keeps His promises!
12 December Mt 1:1-17
Excited by this genealogy? We should be. Jewish readers in the first century would certainly require proof of Jesus’ descent from Abraham and David. Here is God’s authenticating certificate. Furthermore, the flow of the genealogy underlines God’s faithfulness. From the high point of King David (v.6) to the descent to exile because of their sin (v.11) and through the weary years that followed their return (vv.12-15), God never quit in disgust on His promise to save (v.16). His love wins.
13 December Mt 1:1-17
But do we really need all these names? Yes! For one thing, it’s vital to note that the story of Jesus is anchored to real people whose lives can be located in time and space. We are reading history, not fantasy. The facts can be investigated. Furthermore, people matter eternally. If these individuals seem distant or forgotten to us, to God they are remembered and precious. And we will be remembered too, for God never writes off His children as “yesterday’s people.” They are the reason Jesus came.
14 December Mt 1:1-17
Most Jewish genealogies didn’t include women, but Matthew highlights four colourful women in Jesus’ family tree. There’s Tamar who bore twins to her father-in-law (v.3); Rahab the Jericho prostitute (v.5); Ruth the Moabite outsider (v.5); and Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba, v.6) who committed adultery with King David. Why bring these skeletons out of the closet? Because Jesus’ ancestry is much more than genealogy. It’s a story of grace written large. God does not consider His glory to be tarnished by drawing near to actual sinners.
15 December Mt 1:18-20
“… pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” Wow! Yet this astonishing statement was highlighted by Mary’s virginity, and confirmed to the sceptical Joseph by an angel. The way the angel addressed him – “Joseph, son of David”, would help prepare him for the astounding news of God’s intervention in history (v.20). Why does it matter that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit? Because although Jesus is truly a human being, He is not merely a human being, as v.23 will state plainly.
16 December Mt 1:21
“You are to give Him the name Jesus …”. The angel provides the explanation for the name: “because He will save His people from their sins.” The name Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “Yahweh is salvation.” A Saviour for sinners: what wonderful news for people like us!
17 December Mt 1:22-25
The birth of Jesus fulfils the prophecy given by God through Isaiah 800 years earlier. Immanuel is not intended here as a proper name, but as a description of Jesus’ identity and significance: He is “God with us.” That is why He is able to save His people from their sins, for a Saviour not quite God would be a bridge broken at the far end. The story of Jesus’ birth is thus the story of God coming down from heaven to enter into our humanity in order to “save” us, i.e., to restore us to Himself. “O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”