“Jesus Christ, Son of David, and Son of Abraham” – Matthew 1:1–17
Hear now the word of the Lord from Matthew 1:1-17.
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. Matthew 1:1-17, ESV
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God endures forever. This past Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, I was with my wife and my wife's parents and my wife's sister, Katie and Katie's husband, Dan. We had gotten all the children put to bed, and normally while we were doing children things while they are awake, we finally had some time to do adult things. So we played a game that was for adults. My wife and I picked it up the night before on a whim and brought it to this family gathering, and it was an incredibly fun game.
The way this game worked is you went around a circle when it was your turn, you would draw a card and you would read that card. On that card, there was a prompt, for example, "What is my life motto" or "What do I see when I look in the mirror?" or "What do I have an excess of?" Some things are big and deep. Some things are fairly light and insubstantial. When it was your turn, you would then write down what you would actually say in response to that prompt. Then everyone around the table would also write what they think you would say, not what they would say, but what you would say about that prompt. Then all the answers are collected and you would read all of them and everyone else has to guess which one is yours, which one was your actual answer.
As the night went on, well, this became a funnier and funnier game because of a couple of reasons. First of all, we all knew each other really, really well, so we could say some clever things about one another from a really deep knowledge. Also because we loved one another, we weren't cutting each other down, we were having a lot of fun enjoying the shared history that we had together.
You see, over the years, my wife and I are celebrating our 13th year of marriage at the end of this year here, and we were the second of the two siblings to get married. So we've known each other, all for about 15 years in total. Through that time, we've gotten to know one another's strengths and one another's weaknesses. We've known one another's quirks and their virtues. We've known some of the challenges and the setbacks that we faced, as well as some of the failures and successes. We know each other deeply, and through all of this, we've grown to love one another as a family, sometimes in spite of those things and sometimes because of those things.
So as we were all sharing these answers and trying to guess and get in the heads of one another. Someone mentioned afterwards, you know, this is a game you couldn't really play with strangers as an ice breaker. You have to know the other people deeply. From this, there was just this wonderful time of joy. We were just roaring at times, so loudly that our children had to come and tell us to pipe down because they were trying to sleep. Usually it works the other way, as parents, we tell the children to go to sleep, but this time it was the adults who were out of control and out of hand.
Well, as we come to the gospel of Matthew, Matthew wants to give us this kind of a deep knowledge of Jesus. A knowledge not of Jesus's quirks, but that Jesus is some of the things that may surprise us. Certainly, we're going to see the strengths of Jesus. We're going to see certainly his oppositions and all the ways that people are attacking him. Yet we won't see his failures. We will see his ultimate successes. Matthew wants to introduce us to this person, Jesus, who is called the Christ, and he wants to do this so that we might love him, that through this deep knowledge of who Jesus is, that we might grow to trust him and to love him as the Christ, the son of David and the son of Abraham.
What's interesting here in the passage that Matthew begins his gospel on is not a choice any of us would make if we were writing the life of Jesus, to start with a genealogy. He recognizes that the story of Jesus begins far before Jesus is born into this world, that you can't understand the history of Jesus, the story of Jesus, without understanding the story that precedes him. The story that leads up to him. So we have here a recitation and a reminder of virtually the entire Old Testament from Genesis 11, even on through the end of it and even into the entire testament period between the Old Testament and the New Testament, that this is some of the only records we have in the Bible.
We have all of this because what Matthew is showing us is that Jesus did not come into the world a moment too soon or a moment too late. He came at the perfect time. Our big idea, then, is that It is in the fullness of time that God sent forth his son. That's from Galatians 4:4, but it summarizes what Matthew is getting at and this opening genealogy to his gospel.
So this morning, three parts to studying this passage.
1. The Renewal of the Covenant
2. The Rightful King
3. The Restoration of Israel
The Renewal of the Covenant
So we'll start with the renewal of the covenant, and this will take us from verse one through the first part of our six. Now again, if we were writing the story of Jesus, we probably wouldn't start with a genealogy, and so we have to ask, why does Matthew begin his gospel of Jesus with a genealogy? Perhaps the better question is why does the Holy Spirit inspire Matthew to start right here with a genealogy?
Well, the opening words of verse one tells us a big part of why Matthew starts in this way. Look at those words, "the book of the genealogy". Now this is reflecting two words in the original Greek book and genealogy, but the written in such a way where this is the right way to translate it, "The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ." What's interesting about this word genealogy is this is the word that we get our word Genesis from, like the first the name of the first book of the Bible. There's a reason for that, because this word shows up throughout the entire book of Genesis in the Greek translation of it.
If you remember during our study of the Book of Genesis, I tried to draw attention to every time we read, these are the generations of so-and-so. You see these are the generations of Adam, these are the generations of Noah, these are the generations of Abraham and Isaac and Esau and Jacob. Every time you would read about the generations of someone you knew, you were going to hear their family history extending beyond them. We read it on the book of the generations, the book of the genealogy, however you want to translate this, twice in Genesis 2:4 and 5:1. Those two words, book and genesis, show up together.
So right from the beginning, Matthew is giving us an echo from the first book of the Bible, from the Book of Genesis. Now, this isn't the only gospel where that happens. You're probably familiar with the fact that the fourth gospel, this is the first gospel, the last gospel, the Gospel of John also begins with an echo of the book of Genesis. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God." That's a clear echo of Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens in the Earth."
So both in John and here in Matthew, right from the outset, we are given an echo, a reminder of Genesis. Well, why is this? It's because what Matthew wants us to pay attention to is that this is not just sort of a family history that you might have buried in your own house somewhere if you've done your genealogy. This is an incredibly important history. This is a sacred history. It's a sacred history of a new beginning, a new genesis, this is a momentous time in history. Matthew wants us to make no mistake, this is as if as important, if not more important, than the original story in Genesis of when God created the heavens and the Earth.
Particularly where Matthew wants us to see in the genealogy that he's giving is that the coming of Jesus comes as the fulfillment of every promise that God made to his people and the Old Testament. So Matthew shines a spotlight, we might say, on three factors of how Jesus comes as the fulfillment of all of the expectations based on the promises that God's people received from their Lord.
Look at what Matthew writes in verse one, he says, "This is the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ". The fact that Jesus is the Christ is the first part of this, it probably most of us the first time we hear the name Jesus Christ. We think that Christ is Jesus's last name, I remember as a child thinking this. In fact, Christ is not a name, it is a title. Christ is the Greek version of the Hebrew word Messiah. Both Messiah and Christ mean anointed one. To speak of God's anointed one means to speak of a mediator who will go between God and his people. While we saw many lowercase messiahs in the Old Testament who were mediating between God and his people, we saw prophets, priests, and kings. Jesus is coming as the Christ, as the mediator between God and men. So first, we see that Jesus is the Christ.
Second, Matthew wants us to know that he is the son of David. Now, if you look at all of the names in this list, you might wonder what led Matthew to pick out one of these to mention. Well, David was the recipient of a particular covenant promise that God made. You can read about this in 2 Samuel chapter seven or the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles seventeen. God made a covenant with David, promising to David that David would never lack one of his descendants to sit on the throne of Israel. Ever after, David would have one of his offspring, one of his children, one of his seed, to sit on the throne of Israel. Matthew is saying this is the rightful king.
Then third, we read that Jesus is the son of Abraham. Again, one in the long list of these names, how does he pick Abraham? Abraham is a reminder of the covenant promises. Out of all the world God chose Abraham as the one man through whom God would bless all the families of the Earth. God told Abraham, I will bless your family and it will be through your family, through your offspring, through which I will bless all the nations, all the families of the Earth.
So these are the three parts, that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the son of David and that he is the son of Abraham, that Matthew wants us to be aware of, right as we start this genealogy. So as we get into verse two, let me tell you, there are a couple of general things about how this genealogy works. The first is that you may know there's another genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke chapter three. There are some differences there. I don't have time to go into all of those. There's more information in my sermon notes. I'd encourage you to read through those talks about the differences between the genealogies and Luke and Matthew.
What I want to direct your attention to, what's happening here is the phrase "the father of". So Abraham was the father of an Isaac and Jacob, the father of, and on and on and on. The word here is hard to translate into words that we use currently in English. Probably the best translation is if you're reading from the King James Version is "begat". Abraham begat Isaac and Isaac begat to Jacob. We don't use that word very often, and there isn't a really good modern equivalent. The idea gets at the active biological paternity of the father, talking about the father's act in begetting the next generation.
What's important for us to think about is that this word is also related to that word for Genesis. So the book of the Genesis of Jesus Christ verse one, the beginning of Jesus Christ. Now we have all the begetting that happened before Jesus was begotten, as we'll read about in verse sixteen. We have here sort of a wall of begat, begat, begat, begat, begat, begat, begat, begat. There's this line in this chain that we're going to see is going somewhere.
Now let's get into this first section. What's happening here in verses two to the first part of six? If you're familiar with the Old Testament, you're going to find no surprises in this list of fathers, those doing the begetting, those begetting their children after them. This genealogy of the fathers shows up at several points in the Old Testament. What's a surprise in this passage are the mothers who were listed, not the fathers, but the mothers who were listed. There are some notable exclusions. For example, we don't read about Abraham's wife, Sarah. We don't read about Isaac's wife, Rebecca. We don't read about Jacob's wives, Rachel or Leah.
Instead, we read about in verse three Tamar. Tamar, you may remember from our Genesis series in Genesis thirty-eight, seduced Judah, the father of her dead husband, in order to have a child through her father because her father would not give her another husband from one of his remaining surviving children. It was a scandalous time when Judah hired, whom he thought was a prostitute, and from that came union came Perez and Zara. The next mother we have is Rahab in verse five. Rahab is also not a very savory figure in some ways. We meet Rahab when she is a Canaanite prostitute in the city of Jericho, but she believes in the God of Israel, and she gives shelter to the Israelites spies when they're spying out the city of Jericho, and so she and her family is saved. Well, then we come to Ruth in verse five. If you know the story of Ruth. Ruth is a Moabite woman. Well, the Old Testament forbid it for Moabites to enter into the assembly of the Lord.
Then if we peek ahead beyond this section into verse six, we also read about Bathsheba, although she's not named. She is the wife of Uriah. Again, there's a scandal there because David stole the wife of one of his closest friends, Uriah, and then to cover up the pregnancy, he murdered her husband so that he could take her as a wife so that no one would know what had happened. It was a wicked thing in the sight of the Lord.
We have four scandalous, in various ways, mothers. Now why is this? Well, a couple of different things are going on. The first is that Matthew is preparing us for the next story that we will look at Lord willing next week, when we come upon another scandalous mother, Mary, the mother of Jesus. Although in Mary's case, it's not a deserved scandal. It's a seeming scandal, but not a scandal. In reality, because Mary is not pregnant by the work of any human father, but by the conception that is brought upon her through the Holy Spirit. Matthew is preparing us for that.
What we are also seeing is a reminder of the scarred and tattered and tawdry past from which Jesus comes. This is not a pure line of succession of one perfect generation to the next. This is a scandalous past, which means it's going to be all the more glorious when Jesus arises from this history to save these broken people who were his ancestors, as well as broken people like you and me.
This first section then begins with a declaration of the beginning, the genesis of Jesus, who's the Christ, the son of David and the son of Abraham, and we get the first part of this genealogy tracing Abraham all the way to David. We are reminded that part of what it means for Jesus to be the Christ is that he is coming to renew God's covenant, to fulfill God's promises, especially the promises to bless the whole world through Abraham's offspring. We see that part of Jesus's genealogy traces all the way back to Abraham. We're reading about a new beginning, a new genesis leading to blessing peace, righteousness, justice and prosperity.
The Rightful King
The next question that Matthew has to tackle is, can this really come from Jesus? Can all of the fulfillments of God's promises and all these blessings really come through Jesus? One of the most important issues is, is he the rightful king? Is he the rightful king in the line of David to sit on the throne of David? And so this brings us to our second section about the rightful king, that Jesus is the rightful king in the second half of verse six all the way through verse eleven. We start this genealogy where we left off with David.
Now, as we start the second section, we should remind ourselves that David had many wives and from these wives, he had many children. You can read about these wives and their children in a few different passages, 2 Samuel 3:2-5, 2 Samuel 5:13-14 and 1 Chronicles 3:1-3. What Matthew is doing here is not to simply demonstrate that Jesus is a descendant. He's not having Jesus run one of those biological paternity tests to sort of figure out who his ancestry might be. He's demonstrating much more than this, that Jesus comes from the royal line of David, that he is the rightful heir to succeed the throne of David.
So in verses six b through eleven we are reading about a stretch of time through the entire history of the David Dynasty until the Babylonian exile. What we should know is that Matthew does skip a couple of generations. I won't tell you which ones right now. There's more information in the sermon notes. Matthew skips a number of generations along the way. Why does he do this? Well, it's important he's not simply recording census data. He is trying to give us a theological vision of the fullness of time in which Jesus come now. We'll return to that in the next section, but I'm just explain to you why he skips a couple of kings along the way that doesn't falsify what he's saying.
This idea of begetting so and so begat so and so doesn't need to refer to someone's direct son. It can refer to someone down the lineage. What Matthew is showing here is that just as the period from Abraham to David is a full period of time. So this period of David Kings is full and Jesus is the rightful king in the royal line of David. That's what's happening here in the second section.
Now, several years ago, I was waiting for a flight to take off from an airport, the Burbank airport, and as I was sitting there, I looked over and I saw a man spread out a number of materials that he clearly just acquired. I looked at them and they were all different religious kinds of materials, and there was some weird stuff in there. It spanned the gamut of all kinds of religions. So out of curiosity, I said, hey, out of curiosity, what's going on here? What is your interest in all these wide, different religions? He explained to me that he was a Jewish rabbi, actually just near here in Iowa, if I remember correctly. He explained to me that he was a Jewish rabbi who was interested in lots of different world religions, and this was just part of his collection of trying to collect these materials. Well, that was an interesting opening.
So I said, well, out of curiosity, if you're interested in world religions, what stops you from believing that Jesus is the long awaited messiah? You're a Jewish rabbi. You know the Old Testament? What stops you from believing that Jesus is the Messiah? His answer was not what I expected. He said, well, Jesus isn't the son of David. I was surprised by this. He said, "Well, yeah, he's not the son of David. We all know he's not the son of David." I said, "Well, let me open the Bible." We open to Matthew chapter one, I took him to the very first verse of the New Testament, where one of the very first things that Matthew says is that he is the son of David. You might not be interested in this, but Jews are interested in this. That was the first time in his entire life that he had heard that Jesus actually claimed to be the son of David. He thought that was entirely off the table, and that was the very first objection he had to believing that Jesus is the Christ.
Now, I assure you that for two reasons. First of all, you never know what might come from these airport conversations. We looked at Ecclesiastes, you never know, a couple of weeks ago, you never know what God is going to do with his word. To my knowledge, this man still does not believe that Jesus is the messiah, but you never know what God will do when you open up his word. When God's word is allowed to take down the barriers in people's minds from putting their faith in Jesus the Christ, the son of David and the son of Abraham.
The second reason I bring that up is to tell you that Jews take Jesus's status as the son of David very seriously. The son of David is the messiah that they are waiting for. So Matthew is including this information for these exact evangelistic conversations. If you were giving an evangelistic tract to someone, it would probably not be a list of the genealogy leading up to Jesus. Yet for Jews, that is precisely the information that they are looking for in order to believe that Jesus is the Christ.
Jesus, then, is not merely a descendant of David, but again, Matthew is really showing us that this is the king in the official legal royal line descending from David. For the Jews who were living in Jesus's day, there was another major challenge. I'd express it like this, ok, so maybe Jesus can trace his ancestry back to David and even the dividing line, but so what? What does that actually do for us now? You remember, the Jews at this point in time were under the subjugation of the Romans before that had been the Greeks. Before that had been the Median Persian Empire and before that led to the Babylonian deportation that we read about in verses eleven and twelve. So what if Jesus can trace his lineage back to the dividing line?
You know, if you were to discover that you were a descendant of Genghis Khan the way that Genghis Khan carried out his conquests, it is estimated that today one in 200 men are direct descendants of Genghis Khan. He was that kind of a brutal conqueror. Or Julius Caesar, he had descendants, but no one knows quite who they are today. Let's say you were able to prove it, that you are a descendant of Julius Caesar. As for Alexander the Great, as far as we know, his line was completely extinguished. Yet let's even say that you find a previously unknown son of Alexander the Great and you are descended from him, even if you could prove DNA biological paternity, you couldn't resurrect the Greek Empire. You couldn't resurrect the Roman Empire or the Mongolian Empire.
The fact that you can trace your lineage from them means nothing unless you can do something about it. Jesus’ kingship means nothing if he is just one more in the line of the people who are after the deportation from Babylon, who are still under subjection to these Roman conquerors and oppressors. For Jesus's kingship to mean anything, you must restore the Kingdom of Israel. That gets to the third section the restoration of Israel.
The Restoration of Israel
The first three names in this third section, Jechoniah, Shealtiel, and Zerubbabel These are recorded elsewhere in the Bible and the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Hagai and Zachariah. These other names after them are recorded only here. So we don't know if Matthew skipped generations.
So why then is this section here? Well, one of the interesting things is this is putting this time period from the deportation to Babylon all the way to the time when Jesus was born on an equal footing with the time of the divided dynasty and also on an equal footing with the time from Abraham to David. This time, these time periods are on equal footing because what we are seeing here is that Matthew is showing that theologically. One of the big things that Jesus is doing is to restore the King of Israel, not just someone who can trace his paternity to the royal line. He is showing that Jesus is restoring the kingdom.
One of the interesting things that happens here, one of the decisive things that happens in this entire genealogy. Again, this this has been just a wall of begats, so and so begat so and so, who begat so and so, who begat, so and so, who begat so and so. All of that changes in verse sixteen when we read, "Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary." Now, that's odd. Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born.
Now this is that same verb, the verb from which we get our word genesis, but it's not in that active, paternal biological father kind of a sense. It's actually in a passive sense and doesn't describe Joseph's involvement at all. It only speaks of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. What we are reading here is what scholars call a divine passive. We're reading not about the active work of a human being to bring something about. We're reading about something that happens to Mary and something that God does to bring about God's redemption of his son into the world.
Now, imagine this is your first time reading through this genealogy. Imagine that you were a Jew who was used to reading this kind of genealogy and read it with great interest begat, begat, begat and then suddenly the line is broken at Joseph and you read the Joseph has apparently the legal father of Jesus, but he's not the biological father that would raise questions. Well, you have to wait till the next section to find the decisive answer to those questions. We are reading about the fact that Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph, but that Mary, his mother, was a virgin who conceived by the Holy Spirit. Again, Matthew is preparing us for that story in the way that he structures his genealogy, and it's for this reason that Jesus is called Christ in verse sixteen.
But then verse seventeen, we get to perhaps the most puzzling part of this story. We read about these fourteen generations. That the first section was fourteen generations, the second section was fourteen generations, and the third section is fourteen generations. Now, I'll be very clear, you should check my sermon notes. The counting is difficult in this. I'm not a very good counter, but you will notice if you count up the different names and the generations there count. Matthew is counting in different ways in some of these different sections. I won't go through the details here. You can read the sermon notes on this, but the question is why does Matthew want to make a big deal of this at all? Why is this fourteen such a big issue?
Well, as we see often in the Bible, numbers are not merely mathematics kinds of tools. The numbers don't only have mathematical significance, numbers very often have theological significance. Now, when we think about numbers, we're typically talking about them in a mathematical sense, one plus one equals two. Even for us, sometimes numbers go beyond their mathematical meaning. I've used this illustration in the past, it's the best I can think of. When you speak of 7-11, the convenience store, you are describing something very different than 9-11. There's one digit difference in that number, but those numbers have tremendously different significance. Numbers are not merely mathematical; they sometimes have significance beyond this.
Hear what Matthew is saying is there is a significance to the fact that these are fourteen generations that he wants to highlight in each section of the genealogy. What's going on here? One solution is what's called a Demetria. You can bring that up at parties in the future. Demetria has something to do with Hebrew numerology. Wo in Hebrew, letters are also used as numbers, and the particular name in question is David. In Hebrew, you just spell with consonants, the vowels are sort of marked above and below the consonants. So three consonants DVD and D is the number four, V is the number six and then D again. Four plus six plus four equals fourteen. So the argument is there's a Hebrew numerology word play off of David's name to get at the significance of fourteen in each generation, to really underscore the kingship, the divinity kingship of Jesus.
A lot of people think that, I find that hard to follow and hard to agree with, especially when you consider that Matthew was written in Greek and somehow there's a Hebrew word play going on that people are supposed to understand. I think what's a much better explanation for this is that this is getting at the fullness and the completeness of each generation. So sometimes numbers work like this in the Bible. You have to sort of divide them out, which if we're in division, we're already stretching my mathematical capabilities to the limit, but stick with me.
We have three sets here of fourteen, three sets of fourteen. Now, fourteen is the number seven twice over. Seven is a number that is very often used in the Bible to express completeness. The creation days, you don't have to get very far in the Bible to see that seven is a number of completion and you have in each section not only seven, but seven twice over. So this is a very complete, very full generation.
You have this three times, three is going to be an incredibly important number in Matthew's gospel. We are going to see the three names of the trinity highlighted in the Gospel of Matthew. Think at the very end of Matthew when Jesus instructs us to baptize in the singular name, one name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. So it's one name, but there are three names that are associated with this one name because God is one God who exists as three persons. Jesus also is going to lay in the grave for three days. Three is going to symbolize some kind of completion. So we have three sets of seven twice over. What we are seeing here is the complete fullness of this entire history leading up to Jesus. Jesus did not come one second to earlier, one second too late in the fullness of time God sent forth his son.
What's remarkable to think about is the contrast between the fullness of time to bring Jesus into the world and what parents are trying to do in the fullness of time when their own children leave the house? So when we're raising our children, I'm trying my hardest to get my children to a place of independence where they will survive when they leave the house. Now, when they are young, there's a lot to do. Hopefully, as they get older, there's less to do because they learn to do some of these things. When they go off into the world, they will be competent and equipped to live independently from their parents.
It's the exact opposite thing happening here, as we remember, each generation already from the beginning, it was filled with scandal and the second section it leads up to the Babylonian deportation and the third section, if you know anything of the time after Israel comes back from Babylonian captivity, you know their problems weren't fixed. There was still sin. There was still corruption. There was still division. And there was still a hardness of heart to God's word. In each section, the entire time God's people are demonstrating again and again and again that they can't live independently from God. It's at this moment when they are at the bottom of the depths of their misery and suffering under Roman oppression.
It's at this moment in the fullness of time that God sends forth his son. He was never training his people to live without him. He was proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that they can't live without him. At precisely that moment, God came near to them to establish his connection, to confirm his covenant, to take his throne as the rightful king and restore the Kingdom of Israel.
What do we do with a genealogy? There's not a whole lot of clear do this and do that kind of in this statement, so we have to understand what Matthew is doing here. I'd summarize the application this way, believe in Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Again, if we were writing this biography, we probably wouldn't start with a genealogy, but what we have here is crucial to Matthew's presentation, to give us that deep knowledge of Jesus so that we can love him and trust him with great joy. The spirit of God wants us to have this information. Right from the beginning, Matthew is weaving together this genealogy in such a way to bring out the key themes of this gospel.
So I would say there are three themes that we're seeing right from the beginning here. The first is this, this is a gospel about scripture fulfillment. We are told right from the beginning in verse one that this is a new book of Genesis. This is the genesis, the story that's leading to Jesus, the new beginning, the beginning of the new creation of God. We are reading that he has come to fulfill the promises that God made to Abraham in the beginning. One commentator, Grant Osborne, writes, "This first gospel, Matthew contains 60 quotations from the Old Testament and numerous allusions and echoes, making the Old Testament more central in Matthew than in any other gospel in terms of both frequency and emphasis." That's a gospel about how the scriptures are fulfilled in Christ. Everything that God promised in the Old Testament is now being fulfilled in Jesus. Who is the Christ? Do you believe this? Do you love this? Does this give you great joy?
Well, the second theme is this that this is the gospel about the Kingdom of God. Matthew will often call this the Kingdom of Heaven, but the point is that there is a king and this king is the rightful heir to David's throne. He's the long awaited son of David. Jesus, the king did not come initially in power and glory, instead, he veiled his power, he concealed his glory. Instead of outward displays of brute strength, he manifested his power instead in the glory of the cross, where he established and founded his kingdom through his own suffering and bleeding and dying for sinners like you and me out of the great overflow of his love. As we see him hanging and dying on the cross, we can't help but love him for it. Do you believe this? Does it fill you with joy? Do you love Jesus?
The final theme we see here is that this is a gospel about the restoration of God's people. Do you think about the time all of the years that these generations represent generation after generation is God's people. They were living their lives as they were marrying, as they were bearing children, and as they were burying their dead. Each passing year proved more and more clearly one unchangeable truth that God's people need their God. This point was underscored highlighted, italicized, bolded, put in a bigger font and given fourteen exclamation points when the people of Israel were carted off to Babylon, only to return and to see their nation and their homeland in shambles.
Even when they returned to the land, the problems weren't gone. They had just changed addresses a couple of times. Again, we read a more sin, more division, more hardness of heart. Yet it was here in the fullness of time when God sent forth his son. When there was the darkness, that was the darkest right before the dawn. Well, suddenly those who walked in darkness now see a great light in the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.
Maybe you this morning are in some of your darkest days. Maybe you are desperately trying to live out your life and learning again and again painfully that you can't do it on your own, that you need someone, you need Jesus, someone beyond you and your own strength. King Jesus came into this world to save sinners at the end of their rope and their darkest moments. He asked, do you trust him? Does he fill you with joy? Do you believe this? Do you submit to him? Do you love him?
There is joy in the deep knowledge and love of Jesus, and Matthew wants to give us this deep knowledge so that we can know him and trust him. So that it is in looking to him in faith that we might have our sins forgiven so that he, our mediator, might reconcile us to God. Is this your hope this morning? If not trust in Jesus. What keeps you from believing that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham? Matthew wants to see him and know him and trust him and find your joy in him.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for this gospel, this glimpse into our Lord Jesus, we are so thankful to have it, to treasure it. We pray that as we love Jesus, that you would continue to build in our hearts a joy in him that would increase all the days of our lives. It's in Christ's name we pray. Amen.