God Moves Behind the Scenes

Matthew 1


Jerry A Collins



v                 What does all of the supernatural activity teach us?

v                 What can we learn from the example of Joseph?

v                 What can we learn from the women in the genealogy?


Often we have to face the fact that God interrupts our lives in major ways. We discover, sometimes soon, often later, and at other times never, that God has been up to something much larger than just my personal situation. God is moving behind the scenes orchestrating and fulfilling his plan. God is always the principle actor as He is in bringing about the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary and Joseph discover this first-hand and God steps in and reveals information to both of them. The Holy Spirit brings about the conception in Mary, the angel from God reveals the mystery to Joseph and all of this we will learn is a fulfillment of what God had prophesied hundreds of years earlier through Isaiah the prophet. So with this emphasis being on the work of God like this, the birth can only be supernatural and this is exactly the tone Matthew wants to set at the outset of his gospel—namely, there is nothing purely human about this Jesus. The birth was of God, explained by God, in fulfillment of prophecy from God, God planned it, God carried it out, God made sure main persons understood it. The whole thing was supernatural.


Let’s make some observations from the genealogy in verses 1-17;

1) It answers the question, is He a descendent of David through the rightful line of succession? Matthew says ‘yes’ and traces Jesus’ right to the throne through His father, Joseph vs 16. Cp to Luke’s genealogy which traces Jesus’ line through Mary.

2) It includes four OT women: Tamar who took the risk to do what was right in spite of unfaithfulness all around her. Rahab who as a prostitute knew very little and yet took great risks on behalf of the 40 yr old rumor that she had testified to to the spies. That was all she had to go on and she still acted in faith. In contrast to the Pharisees who had much knowledge and more information and took few risks. God rebuked the Pharisees and declared Rahab great in Heb 11. Ruth was a Moabitess and Bathsheba had been married to a Hittite both of whom were gentiles. So God includes gentiles in the lineage of Jesus emphasizing God’s choice to deal with all people in His grace.

3) The genealogy changes when Mary is mentioned in 1:16. It had repeated the father of until Mary. Now changed to of whom was born Jesus. Reveals that Jesus is the physical child of Mary but Joseph not His physical father. So. the point made is that Jesus was born of Mary and without a human father as stated in vs 18. The genealogy prepares us for this miraculous announcement. But at this point we should recall how Jesus so often said things like ‘I am from above, you are from below, or that ‘God sent His Son into the world’. There was a birth in Bethlehem to be sure. Jesus, the human, was born to Mary; the child was conceived supernaturally in her womb by the HS. But the Son, the divine Son, was sent into the world from heaven by the Father. Jesus had 2 natures—the earthly human and the eternal divine supernaturally united in Him.

4) The genealogy is a series of three lists of 14 generations each vs 17. They are selective highlighting the major contributors and begin with Abraham—thru whom the promises were made—rather than Adam as Luke does, thru David—who became the first king in the line of the covt promises, emphasizing the Jewish nature of the genealogy and the point of a Jewish king calling them not to an earthly kingdom but heavenly.


The fact the Mary has been mentioned as Jesus mother demands more explanation.

The Betrothal 18-19 A betrothal was tantamount to being married since it was a legal contract which required a divorce to break it vs 19—Joseph wanted to put her away privately. Engagements are social but betrothals are legal. They were considered to be husband and wife—Dt 22:23-24 the girl is called ‘wife’—and Joseph is called ‘a husband’ in vs 19. Vs 24 he took her as his wife. During this period the couple did not live together nor have sexual relations. So Joseph is considering ending this legal arrangement since she is pregnant and would seem to have been unfaithful to him.

Angelic Revelation 20-22 The passage says nothing about the difficulty of the situation for Mary and Joseph and their family. But that difficulty may be the reason that the angelic revelation was required.   Whenever something like his occurs, so removed from human experience, there is usually some revelation from God that sets hearts at ease and encourages faith. Mary had also received an angelic visit with same explanation Lk 1:26-38. Dreams in the Bible are a means of divine revelation and these dreams here are not ordinary but bring a clear word from God. At the heart of this revelation is the giving of the name “Jesus”. It means to save or deliver and OT usage often meant physical deliverance like from enemies. The followers of Jesus often thot more in sense of national deliverance from Rome than in a spiritual salvation from sin as announced by the angel. This supernatural birth, the revelation about it, the giving of this name identifies this Jesus as a child of destiny—a godsend—the coming of the Son of God into the world. So Joseph had to be willing to trust God with his own situation in lite of the bigger plan God had for the whole world. So both of them, in spite of any misunderstanding ir gossip, knew the true story of Mary’s pregnancy and God’s will for their lives. Interesting that God never took the time to explain to everyone else. God seems more interested in the process than he is the product.

Fulfills Prophecy 22-23 This miraculous conception fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy 700 yrs earlier that this Son would be God with us. God was guaranteeing a future for the royal Davidic family by an unexpected birth, a virgin would conceive and have a son in spite of threats and obscurity. So everything in Isa 7-11 describing one born of the virgin applies also to Christ.

Faith Response 24-25 As soon as awakened Joseph obeyed God. He violated custom by immediately taking Mary into his home to care and provide. No sexual relations until after Jesus birth. He was willing to give up to give to God.

From Joseph:

1. He could have done the right thing according to law and stoned her DT 22. Instead he desired secrecy, demonstrating his righteousness that went beyond what law stipulated. Matthew wants us to understand true righteousness not a system of dos’/don’t’s—it is a heart attitude of pleasing God. It is true we can do the rite thing legally. But do we go beyond what is legally rite and do what is rite in God’s eyes?

2. He did not want to disgrace Mary. Not thinking of his own possible embarrassment but for her and her difficulties. Our motive must not be protection from embarrassment but of the other person.

3. God interrupted Joseph’s life and Joseph had to be willing to trust God in his personal situation in lite of the bigger plan God had for the whole world. As you pray for you personal situations be willing to trust God’s judgment about them. Perhaps they are part of a plan that God has that goes way beyond you rite now.

4. Joseph Kept Mary until the birth even tho he had every rite not too. He was willing to give those up and Jesus calls us to deny ourselves if we are to follow Him.

>Except for what is written we cannot know what God id doing. We’d not predict a line developed thru fornication, lies, gentiles, adultery. If it is not written don’t try to predict what God will do.