Mathew 1 Lesson

Topic: Listening to God

The gospel of Mathew contains 28 chapters. There is discussion among scholars as to when exactly it was written, but most agree that it was written somewhere between 58-68 A.D. It was written by Mathew whose surname was Levi. Mathew was a tax collector, a very unpopular thing to be in those days because of the shady practices of many that held that position.

Mathew wrote this book to a Jewish audience which is why he makes so many references to the Old Testament. Mathew writes that Jesus is the messianic King that the Jews have been waiting for. Because of the strong Jewish ties in this gospel, it is easy to see why the early church would place this as the first book of the New Testament to act as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments.

Over the next 28 days, we will complete our study of Mathew’s Gospel. We will cover many topics, including:

  • Jesus’ birth
  • John the Baptist
  • Jesus’ ministry
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • Jesus’ miracles
  • The rejection of Jesus
  • Jesus’ Disciples
  • Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection
  • And the Great Commission

Chapter 1 begins with the genealogy of Christ. Mathew documents 42 generations as follows:

  • All the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations.
  • From David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations.
  • And from the deportation to Babylon to the time of Christ fourteen generations.

This genealogy shows Jesus’ royal origin as a descendant of David as well as being a descendant of Abraham, which is important because that indicates that He was an Israelite.

The second half of the chapter focuses on the birth of Jesus and the story of Mary and Joseph. For the remainder of today’s lesson, we will be looking at the birth of Jesus from Joseph’s perspective.

Mary was a virgin and was betrothed to Joseph. Before they had relations, Mary became pregnant. Joseph, knowing that they had not had relations, assumed that Mary must have had relations with somebody else and, “Planned to send her away secretly,” so that Mary would not be shamed.

It was then that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said:

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Mathew 1:20-21.

Let us pause here for a moment and put ourselves in Joseph’s position.

He was engaged to Mary and knew her to be a virgin. He certainly knew that they had not had relations.

Mary becomes pregnant. For many, this would have been the end of the relationship as it would be logical for Joseph to think that Mary had not been faithful to him.

But then Joseph has a dream. In this dream, an angel of the Lord tells him five things:

  1. To not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.
  2. That the child who has been conceived in her is, “Of the Holy Spirit.”
  3. The baby is going to be a male.
  4. They are to name Him Jesus.
  5. The child will save His people from their sins.

This will not be the only time that an angel of the Lord speaks to Joseph in a dream, as we will see in chapter 2.

Perhaps the most powerful takeaway from chapter 1 is found in verse 24:

“And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”

That is amazing!

That must have not been your normal dream. It must have seemed incredibly real for Joseph to wake up and do exactly what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do.

Perhaps Joseph was familiar with what the prophet Isaiah had said in the Old Testament predicting this event:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14.

That would have made it easier for Joseph to believe what the angel of the Lord said to him in this dream. It still would have required a leap of faith on Joseph’s part to fully trust in what the angel of the Lord was telling him. The book of Isaiah was written approximately 700 years before Joseph had his dream. To believe that what Isaiah had prophesied about so many years ago was happening to him and his fiancé would have been a lot to consider.

To Joseph’s credit, he wakes up and does exactly what the angel of the Lord tells him to do.

Mathew records the event this way:

“And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,  but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” – Mathew 1:24-25.

So what are the takeaways for us?

There are three main points that we will look at for the remainder of today’s lesson:

  1. Understanding scripture is incredibly important! God may not send an angel of the Lord to speak to us directly in a dream, but He does speak to us. We have the benefit of His inspired Word and the Holy Spirit, and God speaks to us through them both. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The more we understand what the word says, the better we will be able to understand if the messages that we are receiving are from God.
  2. Obeying God’s word allows great things to happen! When Joseph recognized that it was the Lord speaking to him, he immediately did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. But what if Joseph did not listen? Sometimes God asks us to do things that put us way out of our comfort zones. When we listen, God’s plan unfolds just as it did for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Here is the exciting part, when we listen to God, and do what He tells us to do, we get to be a part of His plan. If we tune God out, His plan never gets to work in us, and we are left to go it alone.
  3. When something is, “Of the Holy Spirit,” it is coming directly from God. The angel of the Lord said to Joseph in Mathew 1:20, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” The Bible tells us that we receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized into Christ. Acts 2:38 says, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Those of us that have already been baptized have the Holy Spirit to help us. There is a special relationship between the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Since both are from God, they will never contradict one another. The Bible tells us “what” God wants us to know, and the Holy Spirit let’s us “feel” it. If the Holy Spirit is telling us to do something, we should listen to it. God is using the Spirit to work in us. He put those feelings in us for a reason.

As we reflect on the birth of Jesus and the story of Mary and Joseph, let us consider these three things and challenge ourselves to listen and obey when God speaks to us.

Thank you for joining us today. Please join us again tomorrow as we look at Mathew 2, the birth of Jesus, and the adversity that Jesus experienced at such a young age. May God’s blessings be upon you until then. Amen


John B

Wasn't it common for people to be called by more than one name in those days? "Simon" who was called Peter. Saul / Paul, etc.

John B

Yes, we read of Saul, who was called Paul and Simon, called Peter. But these different names were based on different languages - Saul was his Jewish name and Paul was his Greek name.
I believe the name Emmanuel was more of a prophetic honor than a birth name.

John B

Thank you Dan!

John B

All the names has the same meaning