Tuesday’s chapter for the Christmas Reading Plan is Matthew 1. I love how this chapter is first in our Bibles (even though it wasn’t the first gospel written) because the genealogy at the beginning is like God is saying, “I’ve been silent for 400 years, but I am ready for this story to continue”. Matthew was Jewish and was primarily writing to the Jewish people to help them understand how Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. This was the main purpose for the genealogy, to clearly relate him to some of the greatest men and women in history and demonstrate His right to the throne.
There were three steps to a marriage in those days. First, the couple would get engaged. This was often arranged by the parents. Then would come the betrothal. This made the engagement legally binding. It would last about one year and could only be canceled through a divorce. Finally, the actual wedding would occur, and the couple would be officially married and ready to start their lives together. Mary and Joseph were in the betrothal stage. I can only imagine Joseph’s surprise at Mary’s pregnancy. He was a good man and was willing to quietly divorce her to save her shame and embarrassment. He was also a faithful man because when the angel of the Lord spoke to him, He trusted God and went forward with the marriage.
My favorite thing in this chapter is how the angel said people would call Jesus “Immanuel”. This name means “God with us”. God never left the Israelites, but He couldn’t come to them the same way He can now come to us. This is the most important thing to celebrate this season.