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A Bit of a Slow Start

It feels like starting his gospel off with a family tree is a slow start for Matthew. I wrote for a living for many years, and we always tried to put something interesting in the first sentence, and maybe Matthews original audience thought he was a rock star, but to me it seems like a thing to skip to get to the good stuff.


Matthew points out that the genealogy is in three sections - 14 generations of patriarchs, 14 of good times (up and down, but Israel is established and functioning as a nation, at least) and then 14 generations of exile. Jesus is coming into the exile phase, into a nation that doesn't have a home, that feels rootless and maybe pretty sad. He is part of a people who are outsiders in their own homes.


So Matthew's point (I'm getting help here from NT Wright) is at least partly that Jesus is a promise of leading people out of exile. Maybe He can help them find a home, and help them feel less sad. Maybe He can help them feel less like outsiders.


I'm going to be honest off the bat and say that after many years of following Jesus it very much feels like following Him makes me an outsider -- it does not feel like an end to exile, but like entering further into it. The world around me does not feel super welcoming to Christians, sometimes for good reasons (residential schools, among other poor treatment of minorities) and I get stressed about that. I kind of wish I could stop following Jesus, at least partially, to fit in better.


Even as I write this I have a sense of the set-up. I'm guessing that Matthew wants us to feel something like this. I know enough Bible history to know that original, Jewish readers would have had certain expectations of the Messiah-who-would-end-exile. They wanted Him to be a political leader who would give them their country back. I want Him to be the guy who gives me an awesome life. In her footnotes, Ruden mentions that the name "Jesus" is rooted in the Hebrew for "rescue,"so our expectations are not totally out of left field. Matthew isn't an idiot, so he knows what we're all expecting. I've read ahead, I know we're not gonna get what we want. I'm assuming that part of what Matthew is up to is to make the case that we should follow Jesus even thought He doesn't meet our expectations. I'm looking forward to that encouragement.


What about you? Thoughts on chapter 1? What are your expectations as you try to read Matthew with new eyes? Share your thoughts in the comments.

4 comments

4 Comments


Larry Fjeldstrom
Larry Fjeldstrom
Sep 07, 2021

Hi Graeme,

Good insights on Matthew 1. In keeping with your decidion to read from a different version, I decided to read from "The First Nations Version" which was just published in August this year.

Verse 17 reads, "And so there were fourteen generations from Father of Many (Abraham) to Much Loved One (David), fourteen more generations from Much Loved One (David) until the removal to Village of Confusion (Babylon), and then fourteen more from the removal to Creator Sets Free (Jesus), the chosen one.

To me, the concept of first nations naming is intriguing. It gave me an extra dimension of thought that made the "begats" (KJV talk) new life and insight.

Looking forward to chapter two.

Larry F.

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Graeme
Graeme
Sep 07, 2021
Replying to

This is really cool-I especially like the "Village of Confusion" - it is a very apt description.

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Hi Graeme. I have read your three blogs above. This is an interesting journal journey that you are taking on this month! May you gain important life insights as your read this different version of Matthew and write down your thoughts.

Daniel L.

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Graeme
Graeme
Sep 07, 2021
Replying to

Daniel! Good to hear from you. I hope you are doing well.!

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