I finished my study through the Old Testament and am now reading in the New Testament (or New Covenant). What perfect timing, to be studying the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in these weeks leading up to Christmas. 🙂
The Gospel of Matthew was written by one of Jesus’ disciples, Matthew the tax collector. It was written from a Jewish perspective and points the way to Jesus as the Messiah and King of Kings. Matthew quoted many Old Testament prophecies and then also told his readers how Jesus had fulfilled them.
This book contains the genealogy of Jesus through His adoptive father, Joseph. Because Joseph was descended from King David, Jesus had a royal “Kingly” lineage through him. But we are clearly told that Jesus was born of Mary, and not of Joseph. “And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.” ~ Matthew 1:16.
Did you know that God’s grace is shown right off the bat in the New Testament? In the genealogy of Joseph we find a woman who played the harlot with her deceitful father-in-law (Tamar and Judah), a known Canaanite prostitute (Rahab of Jericho), a Moabite woman (Ruth), and the wife of the man King David had murdered so he could have her as his own (Bathsheba). Wow. Not a very “upright” crowd. Yet God used these people to facilitate the coming of His perfect and only Son to earth. And not only that, but He took what Satan had meant for evil in their lives and redeemed it- and them- for His good purposes. Grace ~ unearned, undeserved mercy and kindness and love and forgiveness.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.’ So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, “God with us”. Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.” ~ Matthew 1:18-25
More grace. A pregnant bride-to-be, scandalous. A humiliated and devastated groom, knowing the baby was not his, wanting to do the honorable thing. Yet both Mary and Joseph had hearts that sought after God, and when called to do extraordinary things, they did. They obeyed, by faith. They submitted to God’s will and trusted Him with their lives. And God brought the Saviour, Messiah, JESUS into the world through a young virgin girl and a humble carpenter. Grace.
When Joseph named Mary’s Son, Jesus, he effectively adopted Him as his own Son. When God calls us by name, and we trust in His Son Jesus, we are adopted into His family and become children of God. Grace.
And that is what the New Testament is all about. Grace. God’s gift of Jesus to a lost and dying world, that through Him we might be saved. No matter what wrongs we have done, no matter how hopelessly messed up our lives are, when we come to God, through faith in Jesus, He redeems us, restores us, and makes beautiful things through us.
God’s abundant and scandalous grace.