As we begin 2015, we begin following the narrative of the gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings. This could be a great time for YOU to focus on the gospel in your personal devotional reading as well. Read it yourself in a quiet time of the day. Read it at your dinner table with the entire family. Listen to it while driving. Ask God to illumine the words, phrases, ideas, and stories you need to reflect on in 2015. The gospel of Matthew begins like this: “An account of the birth of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham….”
The story of Jesus begins with a long list of “begats”, making it clear that Jesus the Messiah is connected to the king. King David, that is. Clearly Jesus is “kingly” if he is a great, great, great (multiple times over) grandson of a king. Matthew also informs his readers that Jesus will be named by his earthly father, Joseph, and that his birth fulfills the words of the prophet Isaiah (7:14): “they shall name him Emmanuel”, (“God is with us” in Hebrew). At the very beginning, Matthew identifies this Messiah as king/Emmanuel.
And this story of Jesus ends with the same affirmations of this Messiah as king and as Emmanuel. Jesus’ last words recorded by Matthew make up the very end of the gospel. They include: “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Sounds like the king of all kings to me.) And, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Emmanuel forever.
As we traverse the pages of the gospel of Matthew, I imagine that we will see again and again that Jesus is the king of kings AND is intimately with us today, tomorrow and every day. Thanks be to God!
(I am indebted to a sermon by theologian NT Wright which raised the beginning/ending connection of Jesus as the king/Emmanuel in the gospel of Matthew. It is great to learn new things!)