Merry Christmas! That's what I think about when I read the opening chapters of Matthew. I thought it would be good to get into the Gospels. I haven't read them in a long while. I really don't read much of the Bible... at least I don't think I do. I try to find a book of the Bible and dig as much as I can into it. Life throws a ton at me though and I am terrible at time management. I really don't think I read the Bible that much.
Anyway, I hope to change that. I want to study the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I was reminded of the Gospels last night while I was listening to The Bad Christian Podcast. It was a theological debate of the inerrancy of the Bible. They spoke a bit of the last chapter of Mark and how it's likely that it was added after the original book was written. The podcast was really interesting, I think it was episode 102 if you want to check it out.
But yeah, Christmas. Chapter 1 begins with genealogy, which is fantastically captivating. I'm being sarcastic. A real snooze-fest. This time it was a little more interesting than the last time I read it. First, I listened to this chapter in the form of audio book on my way to work one day, so I had a better understanding on pronunciation of names. Second, Ruth caught my attention this time. Only because I read through Ruth and studied it a bit a few months back. I even wrote a blog. Surprise. Ruth was a beggar but she found herself in the lineage of royalty with King David, and eventually Jesus. It's so cool to me that God uses people who are in the lower end of societies.
I also noticed that the linage follows males here and it leads to Joseph, who was only the husband of Mary who had Jesus. But, Joseph and Mary didn't conceive Jesus. Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Okay, there's a lot of weirdness here. Why is it important that the lineage ends with Joseph when Joseph didn't have any biological relation to Jesus? Then there's Mary conceiving by the Holy Spirit. Let's talk birds and bees. When a man and a woman love each other, they buy a bottle of champagne, they rent a cabin in the woods, they start a fire, have a nice candlelit dinner, they skip dinner, drink the champagne and go at it.
Mary was different. She conceived by the Holy Spirit. This makes no sense to me. It was a miracle. There was no father's sperm to fertilize her egg. There was just a baby. And his name was Jesus.
I don't see miracles today. Some people say that having a baby is a miracle. I disagree. All mammals mate. There's sperm, there's an egg and there's a birth. The baby develops in its mother's womb and is born. This is how it works with mammals. (Except for the weird-ass mammals in Australia where mothers give birth to an egg, or an underdeveloped fetus that crawls into a pouch to continue development.) So, a miracle. I can't believe it. I mean, I do. But I can't. According to the commentary in my Bible, Matthew was written between 50 - 70 A.D. So, Matthew wasn't with Mary when she felt like she was pregnant. He wasn't a reporter Tweeting his experiences, following Mary around. I wonder how Matthew knew what he did. Did he interview Mary later on? Who knows. But, he wrote down that she was a virgin and she was pregnant. Impossible. That's what it says, though. This is where faith takes over.
Natural laws are just that. Laws. They can't be broken. But, I look into the sky at night and I think about the Universe. There's gravity and matter and anti matter, and black holes and stars and planets, and the Universe is made of galaxies and there are countless galaxies and there's light, and light has a limit as to how fast it travels. The Universe follows these rules. Why?! Why are there rules?! I think that God has wisdom and abilities that are so much higher than mine. I believe that God sparked the Big Bang. I believe that the creation and evolution of the Universe was set in motion by a planner with infinite skill and with love. I believe God created life on Earth with single cell organisms. Those organisms began to adapt more effectively to their environments and several millions of years later, here we are. Humans. I believe we are here because the Universe has laws that it has to follow. But what if the Creator wants to bend or break a rule? He made the rule. It's there because he wanted it there. Far be it from me to deny the Creator to break a rule that he made in the first place.
The natural was then supernatural. Jesus was born. Because of love.
Then there's more. Wise men from the east came to worship Jesus. Where were these guys from? I think it would be cool if they traveled from China. I'm sure there's some evidence of where they really were from. Persia? India? Nashville? Who knows? They traveled a long distance, and they went to Jerusalem first where they asked Herod the king where they could find Jesus. Herod the king didn't know, but wanted them to report to him once they did find him so that he could kill this "King of the Jews". Herod didn't want any part of this Jesus. He was the king of the Jews. The wise men found Jesus in Belen (Bethlehem in English). They went into his house and they brought gifts and they worshiped.
Here, I imagine what a 1st century house was like. The wise men didn't perfectly time their journey to the exact moment that he was born in a manger like nativity scenes will suggest. Jesus was already born. It sounds like he was still a baby, less than 2 years old. Maybe he was already walking around. I don't know, but the wise men found him. They were then warned in a dream not to go back to Herod the king with news, and they went back to their country.
Herod found out that the wise men didn't report the news and he became angry and ordered that all boys two and younger should be killed. I couldn't even imagine what this scene must have been like.
Joseph, Mary and Jesus skipped town though because of a dream that Joseph had. They went to Egypt for a bit until Joseph was alerted again in a dream that it was okay to go back, but to go to Nazareth instead. So, Jesus was a Nazarene. Nazerenes where shunned, they were looked down upon and Jesus was from here. He wasn't born in a palace. He was basically part of a homeless family for the first part of his life, and when he found his home, it was a place that was considered dirty and unimportant.
Are these stories valid? Is it historical? How reliable is Matthew's writings? Who was interviewed to compile the story? Was it Mary herself. Interesting things for me to ponder...