Summary: One of major purposes of Matthew’s Gospel is to establish Jesus’ right to Israel’s kingship. this genealogy is not just showing the royalty of Christ but the Grace of God. Four ways Matthew shows us the grace of God.
Title: The Genealogy of Grace
Most of you know I like to do a little woodworking. Have you ever been sawing a board and run into a knot. The saw blade just grinds its way through and slows it down.
Well, Jesus’ family tree has some knots in it. Usually when we read the Christmas story from Matthew’s gospel we like to begin around verse18. I mean what do all those begits and begats in the first 17 verses have to do with anything, especially Christmas?
Glad you asked, because Jesus’ ancestry may surprise you. There are some family members in here that you would be shocked to find in the royal line of the King of kings. Every name in this list gives us a lesson about God’s grace. It shows how God’s grace went to each generation as the Lord nurtured and protected the lineage He had chosen. A long-standing spiritual conflict has been going on throughout history, even to this day. But in the midst of all that conflict are those who found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
One of major purposes of Matthew’s Gospel is to establish Jesus’ right to Israel’s kingship. To Matthew’s mostly Jewish audience these verses vindicate Jesus’ claim that He was King of the Jews. Matthew proves that claim by giving the Royal Line of Israel’s kings. If Jesus is to claiming to be King there must be proof that He comes from the recognized royal family.
The royal line for the Jews must begin with David, because it was through him, Nathan the prophet said, that God promised that David’s descendants would bring the greatest King of all, who would reign over all Israel and establish His eternal kingdom (2 Sam. 7:12-16).
At the time of Jesus’ birth they were anticipating the arrival of the promised King and the restored glory of the kingdom of Israel.
Genealogy was an important thing in Israel. After they entered Canaan and they had conquered the land, they needed to have their own territories to live in, so they divided the land and cities by tribe. A person had to know what tribe he belonged to.
And after the exile in Babylon, Ezra the priest, had to disallow some sons of the priests because they couldn’t locate their ancestral registration (Ezra 2:61-62).
Any transfers of property required an accurate knowledge of the family in order to buy or sell it, like Boaz had to follow in order to get Ruth.
The census required by Rome at the time of Christ’s birth demanded that each Jewish family go back to the home of their ancestor in order to register who they were, so they could be taxed. That’s Joseph and Mary ended up in Bethlehem so that the prophecy could be fulfilled that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
Before his conversion, the apostle Paul was very concerned for his lineage, and could detail the fact that he was of the tribe of Benjamin.
When Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., when the temple was destroyed, it wiped every trace of the ancestry of any Jew. That’s significant for those Jews who are still looking for their Messiah to come, because they would now have no way to confirm the lineage of the one who would come and claim to be Messiah. Jesus is the last verifiable Person to the throne of David and the Messianic line.
In Matthew’s Gospel we have the ascending line from Abraham through David, through Joseph, to Jesus Christ. In Luke’s Gospel we have the descending line, starting from Jesus and going back through David, and Abraham and Adam, to God. Matthew’s intention is to validate the royal line of Jesus by given us His legal ascent, through Joseph, His legal but not natural father. Luke shows us Jesus’ royal blood ancestry through His earthly mother, giving us the racial descent of Jesus from David. So Jesus was the blood descendant through Mary, and the legal descendant through Joseph – making Him perfectly qualified on both grounds, legally and racially, to take the throne of David.
Yet, in spite of all this evidence, they still rejected Jesus as the Messiah who had come to set them free from the very sin that was keeping out of the Kingdom of heaven and from the King who had come to save them from their sin.
But this genealogy is not just showing the royalty of Christ but the Grace of God. Jesus was sent by the God of grace to be a King of grace.
Four ways Matthew shows us the grace of God. He shows us the knots in Jesus’ family tree.
1. His grace is seen in the choice of One Woman vs. 16
Jesus was going to come as a King of law and with an iron fist, but as the King of grace. This genealogy testifies to how gracious a King He is.