Time to switch it up a bit and move into the Gospel of Matthew.
Here we go with the memory verse again. It’s an even day, so we’re sticking with what we’ve got so far. My kids are impressing me. My 6-year-old has it down pat. My 5-year-old has it with some prompting. My 3-year-old is just along for the ride.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made…”
For the next few days we’re jumping over from Luke to the gospel of Matthew. Most biblical scholars agree that Luke was probably not Jewish. Matthew, however, was a Jewish tax collector for Rome, who left his cushy government job to follow Jesus.
His Jewish faith and heritage gave him a unique perspective on the story of Jesus’ conception, birth and upbringing. Matthew was very well versed in scripture and he knew the promises and prophecies it contained about the coming Messiah. That is why he puts a lot of focus on the ways in which Jesus fulfilled those promises and prophecies.
I try not to leave out anything that the gospel writers included, because if it was important enough to make it into their books, then it must be pretty important.
That being said, I did skip the genealogies given at the beginning of Matthew. They carry a lot of theological weight and significance, especially to Matthew as a Jewish person. I don’t think my children currently have the attention span for it, but if yours do, then by all means, read the first 17 verses of Matthew.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”Matthew 1:18-21, NIV
What should you teach them?
This is what I say to my kids:
- The first part is a recap for us of what we already learned from reading Luke. Mary was engaged to Joseph when she was told she would give birth to the Messiah.
- Now we are given Joseph’s side of the story. It sounds like he did not believe what Mary was saying about the angel Gabriel’s message to her.
- Joseph was not happy that Mary was pregnant with a baby and it was not his baby. He didn’t believe that Mary’s baby was God’s son coming into the world as the Messiah.
- He knew that God’s law said he did not have to get married to someone who was having a baby with another man. He knew that he could punish her if he wanted to, but he did not want to punish Mary and he did not want other people to treat her badly.
- He decided that the best thing to do would be to break off their engagement secretly.
- But before Joseph could follow through with his plan, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream!
- The angel told Joseph that everything that Mary was saying was true. Her baby was from the Holy Spirit. His name would be Jesus. Her baby was the one who would save God’s people from their sins, the Messiah.
- The Bible doesn’t tell us whether this angel was Gabriel, the angel who visited Zechariah and Mary.
- It also doesn’t say whether or not Joseph was afraid when he saw the angel or whether or not the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”
- Although it is worth noting that the angel did say the words “Do not be afraid..” when he told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.
- After all, it was different because this time the angel came in a dream instead of visiting Joseph in person. Maybe having a dream about an angel isn’t as scary as seeing one in real life. I don’t know, because I’ve never been visited by and angel in a dream or in real life, but it is interesting to think about!
- Now it is time to cap off our scripture study with a prayer.