Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit, before they had come together; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
But as he considered this, behold! — An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is 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.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means ‘God with us’.)
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.
Starting a book with a genealogy is, as others have said, not the most interesting approach. Evidently it mattered to the author, must have seemed very significant at the time.
My conjecture [believing that no-one truly knows, within a range of many decades, when this book was begun or when it was last amended] is that the gospels would first be put in written form near the time of Paul’s letters, for much the same reason those were written: to nail down church doctrine and practice when the movement had spread out of Palestine and was starting to include people who weren’t familiar with ‘what everyone knew’ back in Judea.
“Is this Jesus really Jewish, really a blood descendant of David?” — “Yep, here’s his family tree” etc.
“What about those stories we hear, that his father was a Roman soldier?” — “No, his mother’s husband was Joseph son of …. and he didn’t disown him.”
Later readers have observed… that the generations given here from Abraham to David, from David to the deportation to Babylon, from the deportation to Jesus’ birth, don’t really come out to 14 generations each. [I haven’t counted, myself.] The point is probably that these periods, of about the same length, are significant episodes in the history of Israel, that the birth of Jesus takes its meaning from its role in that history.
One remarkable feature… is that some of Jesus’ female ancestors are included. These are, of course, women whose stories were included in the scriptures — and it might be significant that these are women whose sexual history was slightly irregular. If the old argument: ” ‘virgin birth’ vs ‘had no father’ ” goes back this far — and it might — This may be implying: “Hey, God sometimes resorts to odd means to produce essential births.”
It does look like there was some sort of gossip — which would be consistent with a virgin birth, and also consistent with some more common irregularity — and that Luke’s significantly different birth story, which has Mary traveling to Palestine from Nazareth at the time, would make more sense as an effort to defuse such talk.
Two of the gospels get along just fine without birth stories, and why not?
The genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices they had prepared. Finding that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, they went inside; but the body was not to be found.
While they stood utterly at a loss, all of a sudden two men in dazzling garments were at their side.
They were terrified, and stood with eyes cast down, but the men said, “Why search among the dead for one who lives? Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, about the Son of Adam: how he must be given up into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and must rise again on the third day?”
Then they recalled his words, and returning from the tomb, they reported all this to the Eleven and all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; and they, with the other women, told the apostles.
But the story made no sense to them, and they would not believe it.
That same day, two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which lay about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all these happenings.
As they talked and discussed it with one another, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but something held their eyes from seeing who it was. He asked them, “What are you debating about?”
They halted, their faces full of gloom, and one, called Cleopas, answered, “Are you the only person staying in Jerusalem not to know what has happened there the last few days?”
“What do you mean?” he said.
“All this about Jesus of Nazareth, ” they replied, “a prophet mighty in word and deed before God and the whole people; how the Chief Priest and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and crucified. But we had been hoping that he was the man to liberate Israel. What is more, this is the third day since it happened, and now some women of our company have astounded us! They went early to the tomb, but failed to find his body, and returned saying they’d seen a vision of angels who told them he was alive. So some of our people went to the tomb and found things as the women had said; but him they did not see.”
“How dull you are!” he said. “How slow to believe all the prophets said! Was not the Messiah bound to suffer thus before entering into his glory?” Then he began with Moses and all the prophets, and explained to them the passages which referred to him in the scriptures.
By this time they had reached the village; and he made as if to continue his journey; but they pressed him: “Stay with us, for evening draws on; and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them. And when he had sat down with them, he took bread and said the blessing; he broke the bread and offered it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.
They said to one another, “Did we not feel our hearts on fire as he talked with us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” Without a moment’s delay they set out and returned to Jerusalem. There they found that The Eleven and the rest of the company had assembled, and were saying, “It is true: the Lord has risen; he has appeared to Simon.” Then they gave their account of the events of their journey and told how he had been recognized by them at the breaking of the bread.
As they were talking thus, there he was, standing among them.
Startled and terrified, they thought they were seeing a ghost.
But he said, “Why are you so perturbed? Why do questionings arise in your minds? Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself. Touch me; no ghost has flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
They were still unconvinced, still wondering, for it seemed too good to be true.
So he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They offered him a piece of fish they had cooked, which he took and ate before their eyes.
And he said to them, “This is what I meant by saying, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Torah and in the prophets and psalms was bound to be fulfilled.” Then he opened their eyes to understand the scriptures. “This,” he said, “is what is written: that the Messiah is to suffer death and to rise from the dead on the third day; and that in his name repentance bringing the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all nations.
“Begin from Jerusalem; it is you who are the witnesses to all this. And mark this, I am sending you my Father’s promised gift — So stay here in this city until you are armed with the power from above.”
Then he led them as far as Bethany, and blessed them with uplifted hands; and in the act of blessing he departed from them.
And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and spent all their time in the Temple praising God.
Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deeds; and he was looking for the Kingdom of God.
This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid.
It was the day of preparation; and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath day, they rested according to the commandment.
Two criminals were also led away to be put to death with him.
And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals on his left hand and on his right.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
They cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by watching; but their rulers scoffed at him, saying, “Let him save himself, if he is God’s chosen Messiah!”
The soldiers also mocked him, offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him: “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself, and us!”
But the other rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God? You’re suffering the same condemnation he is. And we’re condemned justly for our deeds, but he has done no harm.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your reign.”
And Jesus answered, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
It was now about the sixth hour; and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed, and the curtain of the Temple was torn in two.
Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!” Having said this, he breathed his last.
When the centurion saw what had happened he praised God, and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”
And all the multitudes who had assembled to see the sight, returned home beating their breasts. All his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.
As they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.
And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him.
But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
“For if they do these things when the wood is green, what shall happen when it is dry?”
Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying “We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and that he himself is the Messiah, a king.”
And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
And he answered him, “You say so.”
And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no fault with this man.”
But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length; but he made no answer.
The chief priests and the scribes stood by, accusing him.
And Herod, with his soldiers, treated him contemptuously and mocked hi; then, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, I did not find him guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him.”
But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas” — a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder.
Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!”
A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving of death, therefore I will chastise him and release him.”
But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for, but Jesus he delivered up to their will.
Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him.
When day came, an assembly of elders of the people gathered together, chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council. Where they said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us!”
But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask, you will not answer. But from now on this son of Adam will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”
And they said, “Are you the son of God, then?”
And he said to them, “You say that I am.”
And they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the High Priest’s house.
Peter followed at a distance; and when they had kindled a fire in the courtyard and sat down around it, Peter sat among them.
Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light, gazed at him and said, “This man also was with him.”
But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”
And a little later someone else saw him, and said, “You also are one of them.”
But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”
And after an interval of about an hour, still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was among them, for he is a Galilean.”
But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.”
And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.
And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.