Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate
Today’s Passage: Matthew 1
Merry Christmas, Chocolate Book fam. Today we turn to the first chapter of Matthew, which is mostly genealogy. The eight remaining verses are mostly about Joseph, which is after a fashion to be expected, considering that some scholars think the genealogy in Matthew presents Joseph’s family tree, in contrast to Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ lineage via Mary. Comparing the two genealogies can be an interesting exercise, but there’s little to be gained by me recapitulating the points and counterpoints of those who’ve already done their research. You’ve got the internet; you can dig as deep as you please. Meanwhile, over here we’re gonna look at what Matthew has to say about the virgin birth.
Matthew’s account is much briefer than Luke’s, who covers the events preceding Jesus’ conception and birth with ample detail, expanding the field of view out to Zacharias, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist. In contrast, Matthew spends less time on Joseph’s side of the story than Luke spends on either Mary’s or Elizabeth’s. Of course, if you want a really brief account, hit up Mark’s gospel, whose account of Jesus’ birth is so spare that it doesn’t technically exist. Jesus first appears in the gospel of Mark as a full-grown man, but I digress.
Back to Matthew, where we find out that Joseph came close to quietly breaking off his engagement with Mary when he found out about her pregnancy. It’s not clear to me what he hoped to accomplish by doing so, or how exactly he meant to keep the situation quiet by making Mary a single mom, but Matthew records him as “not wanting to disgrace her” (19). Fortunately, an angel of the Lord shows up in his dreams and tells him to go ahead and marry Mary. Being the “righteous man” (19) that he is, Joseph obeys.
If I’m trying to wrangle some practical application from the text (apart from the message “this is how Jesus’ birth went down, he is the virgin-born Messiah, receive his salvation”), it’s the importance of listening and waiting. If you’re faced with a big decision, listen to God and be prepared to discard your first instincts. Granted, God probably won’t send an angel into your dreams to tell you what’s up, but he may well speak through the Bible or the wise people in your life, or through other means. Learn to recognize his voice.
Is it hard? It’s absolutely hard. It’s unequivocally hard. Perhaps that’s why human beings live as long as they do: because acquiring wisdom and learning obedience can take like seventy years or more. But now I’m speculating. The fact of the matter is, because Joseph listened to God, Jesus Christ grew up with a human father in his life. As the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel closes, we see Jesus born to both Mary and Joseph, two parents standing together to engage the task before them: raising the Son of God Himself. Merry Christmas, everyone.