"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Matthew 1:18-25 Commentary
by Elisabeth Johnson
The Genesis of Jesus
At the beginning of his genealogy (1:1) and at the beginning of his birth narrative (1:18), Matthew introduces what follows as the "genesis of Jesus the Messiah."
In the genealogy, the genesis speaks of Jesus' ancestral origins, establishing his royal lineage as a descendent of King David through his father Joseph. In the birth narrative, the genesis has to do with Jesus' divine origins, with the astounding truth that the child in Mary's womb is "from the Holy Spirit" (1:20). As the Spirit hovered over the waters at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:1-2), so now the Spirit is initiating a new creation with this child.
Of course, God's way of launching this new creation brings complications for the human characters involved. Joseph is engaged to Mary, but they have not yet "come together." When Mary is found to be with child, a dilemma arises for Joseph. He does not yet know that the child is "from the Holy Spirit" and believes that she has been unfaithful, bringing dishonor to both their families. A betrothal was as legally binding as marriage and could only be ended by divorce. According to the law, Joseph had grounds not only to dismiss Mary, ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 017: Christmas
December 25, 2011
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Craig Koester for "I Love to Tell the Story," a weekly conversation on the narrative lectionary. This week's reading is Christmas: Matt. 1:18-25.