Jesus’ birth and childhood according to Matthew and Luke

           What we can come to understand surrounding the birth of Jesus is very surprising. If we do not take the time to clearly read the Gospels we will miss the fact that John the Baptist is not merely the forerunner of Jesus, he is also his cousin. Elizabeth was six months pregnant at the time Mary conceived Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was a major connection between the two of them while still in the womb John leapt for joy (Luke 1:40). In Matthews account of the birth of Jesus was told to Joseph in a dream by the angel of the Lord (Matt. 1:20) While in Luke’s account the angel Gabriel came and spoke with her informing her that she would be with child (Luke 1:31).
            After the birth of Jesus his life would be at risk from King Herod who felt he was the ultimate king of the Jews. Herod would hear of Jesus birth from the wise men (found in Matthew), while in Luke’s account shepherds would come to visit the infant king. Luke does mention that after Jesus’ birth he was taken to the temple where he is dedicated by Simeon and also comes into contact with the prophetess Anna, which is something that Matthew leaves completely out. However, Matthew tells us about the slaughter of males under the age of two due to the jealousy of Herod, which is when Joseph, Mary and Jesus flee to Egypt. After the death of Herod which is recorded in Matthew 2:19-23 Jesus’ family returns to Nazareth. There is only one other account from Jesus’ childhood and that is the trip to the temple when he we twelve years old. Luke is the only author again who records this event (Luke 2:41-52).
            Now areas that can often be a source of contention are the genealogies that first take place in the beginning of Matthew and Luke’s Gospels. As you read through the both of them you automatically notice several differences first Matthew starts his with Abraham, while Luke begins with Joseph. Matthew traced Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham with forty-one links to Joseph arranged in three sets of fourteen generations.[1]Also, in verse eight Matthew omitted three generations of kings Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah; while he used the term begat (KJV) it doesn’t mean father-son but more a line of descent.[2]Luke however worked backwards starting with Joseph, and the lineages are very similar from Abraham until David; but once it moves from David to Joseph things change dramatically.[3] In Lea and Black on page 174 there are several options offered about the best ways to reconcile these differences. I would suggest you read them over and be the judge.


[1] Thomas D.<!–[if supportFields]> BIBLIOGRAPHY  \l 1033 <![endif]–>Lea, and David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message. (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2003)173.<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>
[2]Ibid., 173.
[3]Ibid., 174.
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