The Gracious King
A Study of Matthew’s Gospel
A crown, a robe, or a scepter usually identifies kingly royalty. King James V of Scotland would on occasion lay aside the royal robe of king and put on the simple robe of a peasant. In such a disguise, he was able to move freely about the land, making friends with ordinary folk, entering into their difficulties, appreciating their handicaps, sympathizing with them in their sorrow. And when as king he sat again upon the throne, he was better able to rule over them with fatherly compassion and mercy. Though he put off a royal robe and took on a beggar’s coat, His royalty remained. He did not cease to be a king. He is more of a king – when we recognize such compassion and grace.
The Gospel of Matthew identifies a King, without a robe, a crown, or a scepter. Nevertheless, this King still deserves the honor of our worship and the right to reign over the nations. Virtually every paragraph of Matthew points to something of His kingship.
Christmas, the season of the Incarnation, by it’s purest account, is a season of worship.
It stretches back in history to the gifts of the Magi or the three kings from the east, laying down their gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh before Jesus to worship Him. When they searched for Him in Jerusalem, their seeking was embodied in a question: Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?
Note the contrast with Pilate…
Matthew 27:11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” So Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”
Matthew 27:34 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
The Magi worship. Pilate is unsure and becomes party to His shameful death.
What will you do with Jesus? With the appropriate recognition of His rightful kingship, we should worship Him, too. That is Matthew’s point, to present us with the rightful King, worthy of our worship.
There are 3 proofs of His right to royalty in Matthew 1: His Coming, His Claim, & His Character.
1. A King’s Coming
Jesus’ coming fulfills prophetic promise. The Prophet’s foretold it…
Jeremiah 23:5-6 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
In particular, Psalm 72 heralds the coming of the King…
Matthew’s genealogy is really a proof of God’s order and timing. Look at verse 17 again. This is rather astounding. From the OT to the NT, from Abraham to Christ, God has planned and maintained the flow of history. In Scripture, the number 7 or any multiple of 7, symbolizes a completion of time or purpose.
Here’s Matthew’s point – God is in control and His promise of Messiah is for real! Paul concurred with that point…
Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son...
Consider the history summed up in this genealogy… It is marked by gross sin (Abraham, Judah, David), blatant idolatry, captivity in Egypt, captivity in Babylon, a succession of flawed kings, and hostile enemies, yet God’s plan is carried out to completion. It is as if God is saying, The famine in Egypt couldn’t starve My plan. 400 years of slavery in Egypt and another 70 in Babylonian captivity couldn’t shackle My plan. Murder, corruption, and idolatry could not stop My plan!
The lesson for us is clear - Jesus is a King of Divine promise, ordered and preserved by God for the right to rule. There are a couple of truths we need to grasp from this.
First, when your life seems out of control, God is always in control and wants to manifest the rule of His Son in your life to bring you hope, faith, and peace.
Secondly, we also need to consider that, while more prophecy remains to be fulfilled, God will certainly fulfill it. Jesus will come again to reign completely.
Matthew 24:30 The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
His Kingship is proven in His coming...
2. A King’s Claim
In order to legitimately by King of the Jews, Jesus needed a royal lineage. The two most important names in Matthew’s genealogy are listed first. Jesus’ lineage is tied to both Abraham and David. Jesus has the only legitimate claim to the throne of Israel and the nations.
He is the Son of Abraham. Genesis records the promises of God’s covenants to Abraham. Essentially, God promised Abraham descendants and lands, which would multiply to the whole earth and that through Abraham’s line a Savior would be born
He is the Son of David, having the right of God’s covenant with David to sit on the eternal throne of the Kingdom.
2 Samuel 7:12-16 When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
This is important in history because the transfer of property required proof of lineage to the rightful family. Since the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 no genealogies exist that can trace the ancestry of any Jew now living. The primary significance of that fact is that, for those Jews who reject Jesus and still look for the Messiah, his lineage to Abraham or David could never be established. Jesus Christ is the last verifiable claimant to the possessions of Abraham and throne of David, and therefore, He alone qualifies to be Messiah and King.
He has the coming and the claim of the rightful King, but He also has…
3. A King’s Character
We could point to almost any person in Matthew’s genealogy and find a sorrowful story of sin, but in its entirety we see beautiful reflections of God’s grace. Jesus was sent by a God of grace to be a King of grace. He has the claim and the coming of a King, but He would not be a King of law and of iron force, but a King of grace.
His royal credentials testify of royal grace. And the people He chose to be His ancestors reveal the wonder of grace, and give hope to all sinners.
Matthew’s genealogy shows us the work of God’s grace in His choosing four former outcasts, each of them women, through whom the Messiah and great King would descend. These women are exceptional illustrations of God’s grace and are included for that reason in the genealogy that otherwise is all men.
Verse 3 - Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar… In Genesis 38, Tamar practiced prostitution and seduced her father-in-law, Judah. As a result, Perez and Zerah were born. In spite of the ugly and gross sin of incest and prostitution, they are found in the line of the Messiah. In the genealogy, which proves His right to be King, Jesus does not shrink from associating with wicked people. She is included in the Messianic line, in spite of her treachery.
Verse 5 - Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab… Rahab’s story is found in Joshua 2. She, also, was a prostitute from Jericho, who actually came to believe on the Lord and became a key part in the victory at Jericho. She is included in the Messianic line, in spite of her nationality.
Verse 5 - Boaz begot Obed by Ruth… Ruth was a Moabite, who were a cursed people born of incest. The whole nation was cursed, yet Ruth chose to forsake the gods of the Moabites and worship the true God. Graciously, God had a plan for her and brought a righteous man, Boaz, into her life and married her. She is included in the line of Messiah in spite of her gods.
Verse 6 - David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah... Bathsheba gave King David a son in Solomon, but had been the wife of Uriah. Only after the adulterous affair with David, is she included in the line of Messiah. Obviously, God brought good out of the flawed actions of David and Bathsheba’s adultery. She is included in the Messianic line, in spite of her sin.
Two prostitutes, a cursed Moabite, and an adulteress – the grace of God is manifest by recognizing each of them in the line of Messiah, a gracious King, indeed, who came for sinners.
Matthew 9:13 For, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
Romans 5:8 God demonstrates His own love toward us, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.
The consequence of sin is always tragic, sorrow-filled, and painful. If you have failed or have turned from God, if you’ve sinned against God or your own family, you’ll know that sorrow and pain. From Romans 6:23, it comes like the pounding of a judges gavel at sentencing, "The wages of sin is death."
The wages of sin is death, but Romans 5:20 also shouts, …where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Jesus Christ is our hope, Who can offer pardon, freedom, and deep joy.
He has the right to be King, not by virtue of a robe or a crown, but by His coming, His claim and His gracious character. He is recognized by His graciousness.
Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities. Early one chilly December morning an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window he could see the mouth-watering morsels as they were being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them onto the glass-enclosed counter ever so carefully. The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him. "Son, would you like some of those?" The boy was startled. "Oh, yeah--I would!" The American stepped inside and bought a dozen, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag, and said simply: "Here you are." As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked back and heard the child ask quietly: "Mister, are you God?"
God the King is recognized by such graciousness. Amid the sorrow and ruins of a young English boy, a soldier stepped forward with generous grace. Amid the failures of our past and the pain of the present – King Jesus steps in with generous grace.