Infancy Narrative: Matthew 1:18-2:23
Jesus’ infancy narrative runs from Matthew 1:18–2:23. This section is fairly brief, only 31 verses, compared to 116 verses in the Gospel of Luke. In this section, Matthew’s purpose was quite limited. Each of the five short paragraphs was designed to focus attention on one central fact: Jesus the Messiah had been born. Each paragraph tells a brief story, and then explains how that story fulfills the Old Testament expectations for the Messiah.
One of the most interesting things we learn in Jesus’ infancy narrative is that he didn’t have a human father. Instead, God was his father — literally. The Holy Spirit caused Mary to conceive Jesus even though she was still a virgin.
Now, some critics of Christianity have suggested that this is a weakness in Jesus’ genealogy, since he wasn’t physically a descendant of Joseph, through whom he claimed the throne of David. But it’s a well-recognized fact that biblical genealogies, such as those in 1 Chronicles 1–9, often trace ancestries through adoptive parents.
Moreover, because Jesus was the Son of God, he was also fully divine. And this meant that he was able to keep God’s covenant perfectly. Merely human kings had never perfectly obeyed God’s covenant. And therefore, they had never been able to inherit the full covenant blessings God had promised to Abraham and David. So, God sent his perfect Son to be King, in order to ensure that his covenant would be kept, so that his promises of blessing would be fulfilled.
In the introduction to his gospel, Matthew presented Jesus as the messianic King, the royal Son of David who received all the blessings God had promised to Abraham and the people of Israel. In this way, Matthew set the stage for the amazing good news that is the subject of the rest of his book.