Thursday, December 31, 2009
Matthew Part 2 (1:18-25)
After the author of Matthew shows to his readers that Jesus is the promised Messiah, from the line of Abraham and King David, and that he is coming to bring blessing to the earth and its inhabitants, we now get to the birth of Jesus.
In our gatherings, we take turns reading through the text and then I always ask right away if there is anything that immediately stands out. Several things came up after the reading of this text. Of course the fact that a virgin gets pregnant by God himself (v.18). The fact that Joseph, once finding out that his girl is impregnated by God, seems to be cool with it and there are no questions (24). He just wakes up and does what the “angel of the Lord” tells him to do. Of course we discussed the Virgin birth and how and if it is important to our faith. We had good conversations about how the Greek word Parthenos (virgin) that the author uses also means… “Maiden, Unmarried daughter” and how the Hebrew word almah (virgin) which Matthew refers to is from Isaiah and also means… “Damsel, maid, Virgin”.
Again, I think sometimes we get so caught up in details and trying to defend and prove things that we miss the point of what the writer is trying to convey or the much bigger implications staring us in the face. There is so much that we discussed and that I could write about here, but I am going to move on.
It is then revealed to Joseph that this special child’s name will be Jesus because “he will save his people from their sins.” Again, we need to realize that we are reading an English version of a Greek translation that was probably translated from Hebrew. Some people don’t know that the name Jesus is a Greek translation of the name Jeshua. Jeshua in Hebrew reads Joshua. To most of us the name “Jesus” is very powerful, sacred, holy, name above all names ects… which is true, but there are implications that come with the Hebrew name “Joshua” that we often miss. To a Hebrew who reads the name “Joshua” they of course think of Joshua of the Hebrew scriptures. Most of us know Joshua as the guy who ran around a city and played instruments to make walls fall down (Joshua 6), but to the Jewish people Joshua was known as the one who lead Israel into the Promised Land (Joshua 1). Moses was the one who brought the children out of Egypt (out of Bondage and oppression) and gave the Hebrews the Law, but Moses is NOT the one who takes them in to the land that God had promised their ancestors (Deuteronomy 34). Joshua is the one who does that. In other words, it is Joshua that completes that which Moses started. Or lets even put it this way, Joshua didn’t abolish what Moses started, but rather fulfilled what Moses had begun. Sound familiar? (Matthew 5:17)
So the text actually reads, “…you are to give him the name “JOSHUA” because He will save his people from their sins.” (or relieve his people from bondage and oppression.) The author again makes sure that he gets the implications across that this “Joshua” is the “Promised One” which is what Messiah means.