Theme of the Week: The Gospel of Matthew – King Jesus
Bible Verse: “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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21
Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
Joseph was in a tight spot. His fiancé had apparently been unfaithful and was pregnant. What would you do in his shoes? It’s possible, even perhaps probable, that Mary had told him all about her visitation and the words that Gabriel had spoken to her. If so, Joseph clearly didn’t believe her, and it’s hard to blame him. Miraculous pregnancies, even those in Israel’s recorded history, still came about by the normal biological means of conception.
He couldn’t take Mary to be his wife now, but he loved her and didn’t want to see her shame, so a quiet divorce was the option. Let the father of the child worry about Mary and the baby.
The dream was necessary. Both earthly parents of Jesus needed to be instructed on what was happening and what they should do. Joseph’s dream did far more than give him information, although there was plenty of that. It presented Joseph with a choice.
In the dream, Joseph was told how the child in Mary’s womb came to be there, who he was, and what he would do. The angel also told Joseph that he was to take Mary and the child as his own and that he was to name the child. In ancient Israel, naming a child was taking legal responsibility for it. If Joseph followed the angelic instructions, he would be recognizing who the child was and responding to that.
We know the choice Joseph made. He took Mary and Jesus into his home, and with that simple act of recognizing and accepting the child, he wrote himself into history and (basically) out of the rest of the gospel story. But he was the first to learn who Jesus was and to bow his head to that little child who would bring salvation.
Joseph’s response is the model for the entire program of Matthew. The gospel of Matthew spends all its time and stories telling us who Jesus is and asking us to respond. Written to a Jewish audience expecting a king to come and deliver them, Matthew sets out to show that Jesus is the one in authority. The stories he records all show that Jesus is the one with the power and in control.
This week we’ll look at how the stories of Jesus’s words and deeds in Matthew show Jesus as the one in authority. Let’s dive in together to see Jesus.
Prayer: Jesus, sometimes it’s easy to forget who you are and how I am supposed to respond to you. Help me to see you this week and to recognize that you are the one to whom I give my life and for whom I live it. Amen.
Reflection: When was the last time you were surprised by something you read in the gospels about Jesus? Ask the Spirit to help you read the Bible well this week.
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