Summary: Matthew presents what Fred Craddock calls "the hard side of Christmas." But in a world that is getting increasing smaller and tremendously more urban, its message may be more relevant to us than the others for Matthew has a Christmas message for the city.
The Drama of Christmas
In our day there is a cultural and social battle over the meaning of Christmas. The battle has extended from the schoolyard to the courtyard. However, the battle over Christmas has not only impacted schools and public places. The struggle over the meaning of Christmas has impacted the church.
However, the struggle to understand the significance and meaning of Christmas is not a new one. It was a struggle between the writers of the New Testament, as they each approached the Incarnation with their own impressions.
Mark doesn’t mention the birth of Jesus. It is almost as if Jesus simply appeared on the face of the earth.
Luke’s gospel is where we usually like to spend the holiday season. Luke’s gospel is full of angels, and angelic choirs. Luke speaks of "Peace on earth and good will toward men." Luke pictures, for us, peaceful shepherds from the peaceful fields on a peaceful night visiting the Prince of Peace.
John speaks metaphorically of the birth of Christ. He talks about Jesus being the Word of God. He tells us that Jesus came and set up camp among us and has shown his light to mankind.
Matthew has none of those pictures. There are no angelic choirs, no pronouncements of peace, no saving light. Matthew presents what Fred Craddock calls "the hard side of Christmas." But in a world that is getting increasing smaller and tremendously more urban, its message may be more relevant to us than the others for Matthew has a Christmas message for the city.
Matthew provides the birth narrative of Jesus in five dramatic scenes. These five scenes present the gospel message for the city.
1) A Tour of The Graveyard - 1:1-17
Matthew begins the story of Christmas with a tour of the graveyard.
A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Oved the father of Jesse,
And Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Now, I can understand if your heart was not stirred by these few verses of scripture. I know that genealogical tables are not usually electric with homiletical gems. However, in these verses, most of which do read something like a phone directory, we have the theological stage set for all the rest of Matthew’s gospel.
The first thing that we notice during our graveyard tour is that Matthew is only showing us select stones. He, being not at all concerned about the thoroughness of his genealogical record, leaves gaps of up to several generations in his list. All this makes it even more special that, in the opening paragraph of our cemetery tour, Matthew takes us to four very ancient graves in the oldest sections of Israel’s burial ground.