Jeffrey Stevens

Reflections from Matthew 1:18

Matthew 1:18   Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, this verse is common knowledge to us. That being said, there’s a point I can’t help but feel I need to make every now and then. Christianity is not based on a faith system. It is based on actual events. God’s Word is just as alive today as it was 2000 years ago.

I still talk with too many people, especially Catholics, who read the Bible as they would a fictional novel. I need you to understand me here. I’m not saying they do not have authentic faith. I would never judge someone that way. I’m simply saying that too many people forget what it is they are reading when they open their Bibles.

This isn’t a book of bedtime stories we should use to put our kids to sleep. As God’s children, it is the written account of our family. I think some of us forget that as we skim through the pages, looking for a verse we can manipulate into fitting our lifestyles.

In order to truly understand what we’re reading in its proper context, we have to learn exactly what it is we are reading. As Christians, we need to take the time to learn what we can about the writer of a particular book in the Bible. When was the text written? What kind of audience was the writer trying to reach? What is the background and setting of what we’re reading?

For instance, the Gospel of St. Luke was dedicated to, “Most excellent Theophilus.” While the designation being used may have been a simple nickname, it’s accompanied by a formal address, “ most excellent.” This makes it very possible that Theophilus was a popular Roman dignitary, maybe even one within Caesar’s household who had become a Christian.

However, with the Gospel of St. Matthew, we’re easily able to see the author was writing for a Jewish audience, based on the fact he traces the genealogy of Jesus only as far as Abraham. This differs from the Gospel of Luke, which traces the genealogy of Jesus all the way to Adam. This was needed to show a Roman audience that Jesus is the Redeemer of humanity while St. Matthew was simply demonstrating to a Jewish audience that Jesus was the promised Messiah they had been waiting for.

When we’re able to learn the facts of what we’re reading, we become better equipped to debate non-believers that try to use differences between the gospels against us. It also gives us an opportunity to learn God’s word on a more intimate level, allowing us to grow even closer to Him.

My point here wasn’t to give a quick theology lesson. I’ve got plenty of homework due on the theology of Paul’s epistles if that was my aim. I simply wanted to demonstrate just how historical God’s Word is when we’re taking the time to read it as it was meant to be read.

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