Today’s reading: Matthew 1-9; Psalm 116-117
Just as the closing chapter of Malachi offered the perfect segue into the New Testament, today we open the book of Matthew and begin with a chapter that takes us back to the Old. As you read through the genealogy of Jesus today, wasn’t it great to recognize so many names that perhaps meant nothing to you 75 days ago when you started this journey?
An overarching goal of Matthew’s gospel is to establish an indisputable link between the person and ministry of Jesus and the law and the prophets that preceded him. The opening genealogy places him in an ancestral line that traces back through the kings of Israel all the way to Abraham. Matthew’s multiple quotations from the prophets in the first three chapters–including Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah–are employed to present Jesus as the fulfillment of their prophecies.
Matthew is also quite skillful at using Jesus’ own words to solidify the link. Notice that when he is out in the wilderness being tempted (Matthew 4), he quotes from Deuteronomy (the Law) and from the Psalms (Israel’s songbook for worship). And not only does Matthew show that this “Messiah” know his Scripture. . .he says himself that he has come not to do away with the sacred Scripture that includes both the Law and the Prophets, but to uphold it to the fullest (5:17).
Identifying these elements in Matthew’s narrative helps us appreciate how carefully he composed his gospel so it would connect with its target audience–the Jewish community of his day. The church can learn a great deal from Matthew–whenever we share the good news, it is worth paying attention not only to the message itself, but the way in which we offer it.