Matthew is different from the Gospel of Mark in emphasis and viewpoint. The difference starts in chapter one.

Mark makes no mention of the infancy and childhood of Jesus. Rather, the Gospel of Mark starts with a reference to the ministry of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus.

Matthew, however, starts earlier giving us two chapters of additional information. He starts with a geneology of Jesus, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

After listing three sets of fourteen generations, the gospel of Matthew focuses on Joseph who receives a dream message not to be afraid to have Mary as wife: "...because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." chapter 1:20

Then we read the key message in chapter 1 verse 21: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

In contrast, verse one of Mark's first chapter states that Jesus is the anointed one, the Messiah. Matthew 1:21 gives a foundation to the claim that Jesus is the Messiah (Mark 1:1) by reference to the miraculous conception of Jesus through the Holy Spirit and reinforced by the affirmation of this fact by the angel who informs Joseph of the truth.

The writer of this Gospel tells us that Jesus is the fulfillment of ancient prophesy, 1:22 where he quotes Isaiah 7:14.

Allow me to give a viewpoint here: My opinion deals with the concept that Mary was a virgin.

Many people get all hung up on the idea that Mary was a virgin and conceived a child through the action of the Holy Spirit. Now, really!

If, and I admit it is a big "if", but nonetheless, if we concede there is a God who is the Creator, then it isn't much of a jump to assert that the all powerful, all present, all knowing God is capable of such a feat as virginal conception.

Please take note here of two things. Firstly, the conception of Jesus is a virginal conception. What is commonly called a virgin birth actually refers to the conception of Jesus. However, many people mistake all of this for some kind of weird idea of virginal birth!!

Secondly, many people confuse the biblical concept of the virginal conception of Jesus with the Church doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The conception of Jesus into the womb of the virgin Mary by the agency of the Holy Spirit is not the doctrine of the "Immaculate Conception."

The Immaculate Conception is a Church doctrine that refers to the conception of Mary the mother of Jesus and not to the conception Jesus. According to the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, Mary was born without the taint of "original sin" by an act of prevenient grace.

Many people thought that it was necessary for Mary to be without sin in order for Jesus to be holy. However, the scripture clearly states in Mt. 1:20; and Luke 1:35 that it is because Jesus in conceived through the agency of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is considered holy and is to be known as the Son of God.

Indeed, Mary's participation in the sin of all humankind is a big part of the whole story. Mary is completely human and has no divinity of herself. Yes, she is a faithful and "blessed" woman-Luke 1:45

However, Jesus is fully human according to the flesh and fully divine according to the Spirit. If Mary is less or more than human, the incarnation of Jesus as fully human is called into question. (now, I am sure many theological types have all kinds of reasons this is not so, but if we just take it on "face value" it seems to be what scripture intends for us to know.)

The point of all this discussion is to highlight the claim of the Bible that Jesus is the Promised One, the Anointed one, the Messiah. His purpose is to bring man to God and God to man.

At least that is the way one pastor understands this passage. So, let's move on.

Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the wall of separation between God and humankind is breeched; the great chasm that separated God and God's creation is bridged; and the gate to eternal life- once closed in paradise- can now be opened for all people.

The story of the Bible and of the Christian Church founded on the Bible, is the story of how God saved his creation from its own self inflicted destruction.

God accomplished this salvation through self sacrifice - which is the only solution to the problem of evil.

Human beings are not capable of getting back to Eden. People cannot become perfect through work or faith or any other self discipline.

Rather, God understood that only through the outpouring of God into humanity could the consequence of wrong decisons be thwarted. God would need to humble himself into the form of a human person in order that through that humiliation God might solve the problem of evil.

The thrust of the message of Jesus is that God created us for life and not for death. Death is the consequence of our own decisions,(wrongly made). They are decisions based upon a warped view of reality whereby human beings give up the glory of the only true God and replace that glory (understand "glory" here to mean wonder and power and life and awesome beauty) --

Humankind replaced the glory of the Creator with that which is created. We worship as beautiful that which is a copy (created) of the original(God). See Romans 1:18-23

In Matthew we see the emphasis placed on Jesus Messiah. Jesus is the fulfillment of divine prophesy. All of this culminates in Matthew 16:13. There Jesus asks, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

In Matthew it is Peter who gives the definitive reply, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God." Mt. 16:16

Matthew Mark Luke John Acts Romans 1-Corinthians