It’s been a while since I finished my overview of the book of Mark. I found it a rewarding experience, not the least because it helped confirm my understanding of Christ, and presented me with new challenges about what Jesus actually says. I’ve been feeling the desire lately to continue my journey to read the Gospels reasonably, and so I will continue with the book written next, chronologically as far as we can currently tell: Matthew. As before, this will not be a deep exegesis. There will be some scholarly knowledge shared, primarily for context so I can get a better grasp on what Matthew is trying to say. My goal is to do with Matthew what I did with Mark, pick out the suspicious bits, marvel at the awkward moments, and fall in love with the God that Jesus brings to us yet again. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy it.
The beginning of Matthew often throws a lot of people. Many people skip it, or find in it no meaning. However, there are two very important things to know about the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and the key to understanding it lies in verse 17. ‘So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to Christ, fourteen generations.’
So, Matthew is the most Jewish of all the gospels. His audience is presumed to be Christians of Jewish descent, who probably still kept many of their heritage traditions, and understood much of their own history, that is Jewish history. Why do I bring this up? Because of Jewish numerology. The number 14 is very powerful. First, the number 7 represents perfection, and 14 represents double perfection. Second, if one substitutes the Hebraic letters of the name David and sums them, the total is 14. Why does David matter? Because in Jewish prophecy, the Messiah was foretold to be a descendant of King David, the doubly spiritually perfect king (14!).
In these 14 verses, Matthew shouts to his Jewish listeners that Jesus is not only a descendant of David but that he is 3 sets of 14 generations removed. What does 3 mean? Completion. This is quite an opening. The opening of Matthew is essentially this: ‘Jesus is the perfect candidate to be considered for Messiah!’
Now, is the genealogy accurate? Probably not, there are plenty of genealogies that disagree, but once again, the author was trying to make a point.
Boy, if this guy is starting off so strong with the evidence that Jesus is the anointed one, the chosen one of God, I can only imagine what comes next.