Moses by John August Swanson. Image from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, Tenn. Original source © 1983 by John August Swanson.
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Jesus as Immanuel
Birth of Jesus
Matthew 1:18-25 Commentary
by Holly Hearon
How is the birth of a Messiah supposed to take place?
Should friends gather for a baby shower? Is it important to identify the gender beforehand? Who will be in the delivery room? Will the press be invited?
These twenty-first century questions aren’t much help when reading Matthew’s first-century story about the birth of Jesus. What they reveal is that Matthew isn’t so much concerned with the birth of a baby as with the birth of a Messiah. This is quite another matter.
The passage begins, “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way” (1:18). This verse marks a shift in the text from genealogy to narrative, but the two belong together. Already, in v. 16, we have heard about Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom was born Jesus, the one who is called the Messiah. This easily overlooked verse actually serves as a prelude to the story that begins in v. 18. It is an important verse because it breaks pattern with the preceding entries in the genealogy where each new generation is begat by the preceding ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL155: Jesus as Immanuel
December 21, 2014
Narrative Lectionary podcast on readings for Dec. 21, 2014: Matthew 1:18-25 (Accompanying text: Psalm 23:1-4, or 23:4).