The Gospel of Matthew
"E. Schuyler English: The Gospel According to Matthew"
The Book of MATTHEW
"Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Ex. 3:5). It is in such an attitude as this that we must contemplate the birth of the Lord Jesus. Conceived of the Holy Spirit, was this Emmanuel, God the Son, God with us; born of the virgin Mary was this Jesus, the Son of God; perfect in His Deity, perfect in His humanity. The One Who as a little babe lay on the bosom of Mary in human dependence was the same One Who was cruelly crucified, but Whom God raised up from the dead, "because it was not possible that He should be holden of it" (Acts 2:24). The Lord Jesus Christ is the "Seed of the woman" Who, as God had promised, should bruise the Serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). He is the Messiah through Whom, as God decreed to Abraham, all the families of the earth should be blessed (Gen. 12:3). Furthermore, Jesus is the King Who, as God hath ordained by His oath, should sit upon the throne of His father David, which shall be established for ever (2 Sam. 7:16). It is of Him that Isaiah the prophet wrote by the Holy Spirit: "His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever" (Isaiah 9:6, 7).
It is not a matter of wonder that as Mary, after the power of the Highest had overshadowed her, greeted her cousin Elisabeth, Elisabeth's child leaped for joy, recognizing the presence of the Saviour. Nor do we marvel that on the night the Child Jesus was born in Bethlehem there appeared to the shepherds an angel of the Lord, and a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. Neither is it strange that the Magi came from the East to Jerusalem and, guided by the star, to Bethlehem, to worship Him Who had been born king of the Jews, to present to Him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. That which is to be wondered at, that which is really wonderful, is that the Messiah, the Christ of God Who had been promised centuries before and for Whom Israel had been watching and hoping, should come to earth as the Saviour of His people, to present Himself as their King, to offer them the Kingdom, and that these Gentiles, the Magi, should have to inquire as to His whereabouts, some considerable time after His birth; that they alone should have gone to Jerusalem to pay rightful honour to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
As we study the genealogy, the birth, and the infancy of the Lord Jesus let us remember that if we fail to recognize in Him the Saviour Who died for us, and if we neglect the true worship of the Lord of all, we reject God's gift of eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). With hearts full of gratitude and joy to God the Father and to His Son Jesus Christ we should approach these studies of the earthly ministry of our Lord and Saviour.
"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham" (Matt. 1:1). Since Matthew wrote especially to the Jews, it was necessary that it be proven without the shadow of a doubt that the Lord Jesus was in the kingly line, the true heir to the royal throne of David. Likewise it was essential that our Lord be shown to be descended from Abraham, the Seed through Whom the whole earth should be blessed. It is interesting to note that though Abraham lived more than one thousand years before David, the order in the verse is "Son of David, Son of Abraham." Why did the Holy Spirit so direct Matthew? Because our Lord was first to present Himself to His own people as King, then as Saviour. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name" (John 1:11, 12).
Very often Christians are inclined to skip over the portions of Scripture which they call "the begats." But God has given us the genealogies that His Word may be comprehended fully. It is not our purpose here to compare in detail the two genealogies of our Lord, as found in Matthew and in Luke. An important paragraph quoted from Dr. A.C. Gaebelein's Gospel of Matthew will clarify most of the difficulties which may arise in connection with the two records:
"In the genealogy of Matthew Jesus Christ is shown to be the King legally; in the Gospel of Luke we have His genealogy as the Son of Man, and as such linked with the whole race. The genealogy in Matthew proves that Joseph is a descendant of David, through the house of Solomon. There is in the Gospel of Luke proof that Mary, the virgin, is likewise a descendant of David, but not through the house of Solomon. She is connected with David through the house of Nathan. The Messiah was to be born of a virgin, one who must be a descendant of David. But a woman had no right to the throne. As the son of the virgin alone He could not have had a legal right to the throne. For this reason, to make the One begotten in her of the Holy Ghost, the rightful heir to the throne of David in the eyes of the nation, the virgin had to be the wife of a man who had a perfect, unchallenged right to the throne. Now the genealogy in Matthew shows that Joseph is the son of David, and thus entitled to the throne, therefore Jesus is legally in this way heir to the throne. He is the legal descendant and heir of David through Joseph, but never Joseph's Son. He was supposed by the people to be the Son of Joseph. (See Luke 3:23, 4:22.) His claim to being truly the Son of David was therefore never disputed. Now if He had been the Son of Joseph according to the flesh, He would never be and could never be our Saviour. ... On the other hand, if He had been the Son of Mary, without her being legally the wife of a son of David, the Jews would have rejected His claim from the very outset. We see then that legally He was the Son of Joseph; in His humanity He is the Son of Mary, and then we step higher, as we read in the closing verses (of our chapter), He is the Son of God."
God always keeps His Word. He had promised David and Abraham that through their seed salvation should come to Israel, in the Messiah-King. The genealogy of Matthew's Gospel proves that Jesus Christ is "The Son of David, the son of Abraham;" God's promises were fulfilled.
"Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise. ..." (Matt. 1:18). There follows the history of the conception and birth of our Lord. Had the record of Jesus Christ ended with verse seventeen, we would know of a certainty that He was born legal king of the Jews, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, but it is from the story of His birth that we know Him to be the Son of God. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph when he was about to put Mary away, saying, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His Name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:20, 21). "Shall call His Name Emmanuel (God with us)." "Shalt call His Name Jesus (Jehovah is the Saviour)."
What greater proof do we need that our Lord Jesus Christ is God, God with us, and that in Him is salvation for the lost? It is neither Matthew nor Isaiah who tells us this; God has spoken. "An angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph saying, thou shalt call His Name Jesus." "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, they shall call His Name Emmanuel."
The child was born, the Child Whose Names are "God with us" and "Jehovah is the Saviour." God has manifested Himself to His people, to all the world, in the form of a Man, Jesus the Christ. He is God; He is the Saviour. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). Do you believe in Him? Are you standing on the Rock? May you receive Him now, if you have never before done so.