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Summary: Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus displays the scope of God’s grace. Matthew’s genealogy is unusual in that it contains the names of four women. Four unlikely women at that; three are gentiles, three are involved in some kind of sexual immorality, one is a pro

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A Genealogy of Grace

Matthew 1:1-3, 5-6, 16-17

By now you have no doubt turned in your Bibles to Matthew chapter one and if you did not already know you have noticed the complete chapter is a long genealogy – a list of names, most of them unpronounceable, at least for me. Because of that it is a portion of scripture that we tend to overlook. Let’s read verse one, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”

I have to admit that the study of genealogy fascinates me and scares me at the same time. I think it is fascinating to find out who your people are and where they come from. But it also scares me a little, you never know what you are going to dig up. There are some family skeletons you would just as soon remain in the closet. I am afraid, knowing a bit about my family that they may not all be fine upstanding citizens. How about you?

There are in fact two genealogies of Jesus in the New Testament, one in Matthew that traces his legal lineage to be king through Joseph. Yet when Matthew gets to Joseph (v. 16) notice that he changes the formula and states that Joseph was “the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born.” The “whom” is feminine in Greek, showing that Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus. (We will talk more about that in the next message.) But there is another genealogy in Luke that traces his lineage through his mother, Mary.

Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus does at least three things. First, God had said some 1,000 years earlier that the Messiah must come from the royal lineage of David (2 Samuel 7). Matthew proves that Jesus is qualified to be the King by being a physical descendant of David. Secondly, the genealogy establishes Jesus as a historical figure; our faith is rooted in history not in myth or legend.

And third, it displays the scope of God’s grace. Matthew’s genealogy is unusual in that it contains the names of four women. Four unlikely women at that; three are gentiles, three are involved in some kind of sexual immorality, one is a prostitute, one is an adulteress, and yet all four are in the line that leads to Jesus Christ, the savior of mankind. As read through the verses I want you to underline the names of these four women.

(vv. 1-3) “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: (2) Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. (3) Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar…”

(vv. 5-6) “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, (6) and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah (Bathsheba).”

(vv. 16-17) “And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. (17) So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.”


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