Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Matthew 1: Annunciation

Matthew 1:18 begins the story as we know it, with the annunciation of Jesus' birth.  But rather than Mary it's Joseph that gets the news, in a dream. Mary is left offstage, and it's weird. She's been given this big, blow your mind revelation, center stage stuff that as an audience we want to see, but Matthew doesn't give it.

Maybe Matthew chooses this to suggest that what's important to him is not the drama, and not the news of Jesus' birth, but how people receive it and him.  Do they welcome Jesus, welcome the action of God, or do they turn away?

I also wonder if Matthew is trying in another way to connect his Gospel to the Old Testament. Joseph here echoes Abraham, the "man of the house" spoken to by the Lord and saying yes.  Yes, I'll pack my bags and leave my comfortable surroundings (a parallel which we'll see actually play out in the next chapter of Matthew).  Yes, I'll accept that this is the son of God and be the child's father.  

Sometimes I wish for a little more back and forth to appreciate the leap of faith that entailed, but when it comes to sacrifice Joseph, like Abraham and like many of our parents and parent-figures today, is reticent.