Your Plan for 2024

Commit to read the New Testament in 2024. Just one chapter every weekday, accompanied by a short devotional here.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

January 1 - Matthew 1

Key Verse: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Big Idea: The arrival of Jesus the King is both something ancient and something new.

Plenty of wide-eyed students have opened the New Testament enthusiastically and been shocked to find a genealogy. As you read Matthew 1, you might be thinking: “Who cares that Uzziah was the father of Jotham? Isn’t the Old Testament the one with all of the ‘begat’s? I thought the New Testament was going to be interesting!” But there is a good reason that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to begin his gospel this way. The coming of Jesus is not Plan B, as if God had been doing one thing throughout history and is now giving up on that to try a new approach. Jesus is the culmination of everything which came before, and so His genealogy firmly anchors Him as the climax of the story.

Jesus is fully human, so He is part of that long human story. He was born into a family with a history, both good and bad. That was no accident! Jesus did not enter the world at random; He came as the masterstroke when the chessboard was perfectly arranged. The successes and failures of everyone who came before laid out the path which Jesus fulfilled.

It is not enough to say that Jesus is fully human, though. As the angel told Joseph in verses 20 and 21: “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS for he shall save his people from their sins.” This child was the son of Mary and fully human, but also the Son of God and fully divine. The tension in this story is that Jesus was both the next step in a long line and something radically new and unexpected. He is a part of the legacy which has come before, but He is also the author’s unprecedented intrusion. This baby boy was Immanuel, God with us, who would grow up to die as a human being for the sins of human beings, and rise again as the victorious God who has set people free from the chains of sin and death.

Discussion idea: Do you recognize any of the names in the genealogy? What can you remember about them? How has God used your family to make you into the person He wants you to be?

Prayer focus: Thank God for someone in your family who has helped you to grow, whether through a challenge or a blessing.