We now begin the second phase of our safari through Scripture. Our desire is to see all 27 books as a whole—to see how they fit together, how they relate to us, and the value of each section to the person who reads and believes the Bible. Of special interest is the “flow” of thought carried through these books and letters of the New Testament.
Matthew, a tax collector by trade, wrote his book to emphasize Christ, the King. The book includes numerous facts and expressions, which would have appealed to the Jewish reader. The fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and the presentation of Jesus as Messiah are clearly emphasized. When we understand the book of Matthew we bow before King Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel.
If you aren’t Jewish, then you’re what the Bible calls a “Gentile.” Most folks who follow the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, are just that—Gentiles. And as Gentiles, most of us don’t always understand Jewish Scripture, the Old Testament. This is particularly true when it comes to reading the prophetic books of the Bible. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the Old Testament makes the first announcements of Messiah’s coming and ministry. And few prophetic books have more prophecies about Messiah Jesus than the book of Isaiah.
Just beneath the soft, newborn skin of this beautiful story is the flesh and bone of a theological truth that is older than creation: God planned to send a Saviour long before time began.
Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and Herod all heard God’s message. So what accounted for their different reactions? Zacharias doubted, Mary and Joseph believed, and Herod rejected the message. And each of their responses had significant results.
Everyone in Nazareth would have known Jesus’ mother, Mary, was pregnant before she and Joseph were married. While everyone knew about the scandal, no one understood Mary’s conception was miraculous and one day her baby would save the world.
“Do not be afraid.” We see this phrase recur throughout the Christmas story and it’s easy to gloss over without fully comprehending it.
The virgin birth circumvented the transmission of the sin nature and allowed the eternal God to become a perfect man. He never sinned, which qualified Him to be a righteous substitutionary sacrifice for sinners.
Sometimes cast aside as a minor player in the retelling of the Christmas story, Joseph’s story mirrored that of his wife in many ways. He sat with her marvelling at this baby. He wondered about the baby’s origin. And yet, Joseph was forced to make a choice that not even Mary had to make. Where Mary carried the baby within her, Joseph had to choose to stay, to involve himself in the baby’s life.
Reading through the Bible can be like taking a road trip. Each book has different scenes and along the way you meet interesting characters.