On Matthew 1

Part of a series on N.T. Wright's Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15

Big Takeaway

Jesus' birth and genealogy tells us that God is proactive, faithful, and sometimes works in strange ways in order to rescue his people.

On Jesus' Genealogy

"For many cultures ancient and modern, and certainly in the Jewish world of Matthew's day, this genealogy was the equivalent of a roll of drums, a fanfare of trumpets, and a town crier calling for attention. Any first-century Jew would find this family tree both impressive and compelling. Like a great procession coming down a city street, we watch the figures at the front, and the ones in the middle, but all eyes are waiting for the one who comes in the position of greatest honour, right at the end." - N.T. Wright

  • In ancient times asking someone who they are is the same as asking what family they come from.
  • For 200 years before the birth of Jesus the kings and queens of Israel were not from David’s family. To list Jesus as a direct descendant of David, the true ancient royal lineage, is to make a dangerous political statement.
  • Matthew highlights the strange ways God has worked in the royal family itself. Among this is Boaz being the son of the prostitute Rahab and David's adultery.

On The Immaculate Conception

"God is present, with his people; he doesn't 'intervene' from a distance, but is always active, sometimes in most unexpected ways. And God's actions are aimed at rescuing people from a helpless plight, demanding that he take the initiative and do things people had regarded as (so to speak) inconceivable." - N.T. Wright

  • Matthew asks us to take a look at the surprising circumstances of Jesus' birth within the context of the surprising ways he has worked throughout Israel's entire history.
  • Joseph was embarrassed at Mary's pregnancy but he didn't let his humiliation get in the way of his high moral principles.
  • Joseph gives us an example of what true, faithful obedience looks like. "did exactly what God's angel commanded in the dream:" (MSG 24-25)