Summary: A Christmas message from Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. Big Idea: God’s plan always comes together.
Introduction: Many of us need to hear a message of hope this morning. Some in our church community are pretty discouraged right now. There’s a grayness that’s overshadowing our lives, and the season we’re in often makes it worse, not better.
ß Some are facing financial pressures that they just can’t seem to get out from underneath, and the season makes it worse not better.
ß Some are facing pressures at work or at school, and the season makes it worse not better.
ß Some are saddened by the loss of someone they loved, or a strained relationship with someone they love, and the season makes it worse not better.
We need hope. In the middle of our discouragement and despair, Matthew comes to us with a message of hope.
[READ 1:1-6a] You’re probably thinking, “Is this for real? This is going to be the text we look at today?” Yes, yes it is.
[READ 1:6b-11] You’re probably thinking, “If we left now, we could still make an 11:00 service at some other church.” Hang in there!
[READ 12-17] Matthew begins his Gospel with a message of hope. But where is it? This is the last place we’d expect to discover a message of hope. The genealogies in the Bible don’t make much sense to us. They seem to be boring, meaningless lists of ancestors and descendants—just interminable lists of monotonous names.
But Matthew has crafted this genealogy very carefully so that we can receive a message of hope. And that message can be illustrated by a beloved old TV show from years ago, a cherished holiday classic … THE A-TEAM!
Some of you remember The A-Team, don’t you? I’m not talking about the movie with Liam Neeson, I’m talking about Tuesdays at 8 on NBC, from 1983 to 1987, The A-Team—Mad Murdock, Face, B.A. Barracus, and Col. Hannibal Smith—would mete out truth & justice in the American way, with lots of cars and guns. It was a show that you could watch with no sound and still understand everything that was going on. A show you could set your watch by—30 minutes in, the A-Team would be stymied by the villains. At 40 minutes, the A-Team would go about setting a trap for the villains that always involved shots of assembling some large vehicle (like a tank) using stuff they conveniently had lying around, and accompanied by trap-setting montage music. At 50 minutes, the trap would be sprung, and a high-speed car chase would ensue with blazing machine guns, car crashes & explosions, in which not one single character ever got killed. And the A-Team would always emerge victorious, enabling George Peppard to breezily exclaim, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
What Matthew wants us to see from this genealogy, and the message of hope for us as we head toward Christmas, is that GOD’S PLAN ALWAYS COMES TOGETHER. Let’s look at this list a little more closely:
I. GOD ALWAYS HAS A PLAN, AND GOD’S PLAN ALWAYS COMES TOGETHER.
A. The genealogy from Abraham to David shows that God plan includes mercy (2-6a).
1. Matthew is making the case for his Jewish readers that Jesus is the Messiah. They would need Jesus’ credentials in order to believe.
a. “Descendant of Abraham” = Jewish, part of God’s promise
b. “Descendant of David” = royal lineage & role as King.
2. Four women are included in this genealogy: Tamar (3), Rahab (5), Ruth (5), and Bathsheba (6).
a. Tamar seduced her father-in-law Judah into an incestuous relationship
b. Rahab aided Hebrew spies and joined the Israelites, but she was a pagan prostitute
c. Ruth was from Moab, a Gentile
d. Bathsheba entered into the messianic line because of an adulterous affair with David.
B. The genealogy from David to the Babylonian captivity shows that God plans despite sin (6b-11).
1. At the onset of the Babylonian exile when the monarchy was destroyed and what was left of the nation was transported to Babylon in 587 BC.
2. From that time on, no heir of David sat on his throne. But now, Matthew was arguing, a descendant of David, Jesus the Messiah, had come to take the royal reins in hand once more.
C. The genealogy from the Babylonian captivity to Christ shows that God’s plan always comes together (12-17).
1. Christ was not only a Son of David, but the Son of God: he is listed as the descendant not of Joseph, but of Mary.
2. Consider the history summed up in this genealogy… It is marked by gross sin, 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! My plan always comes together.”