Summary: Matthew begins the story of Jesus with a genealogy to establish the fact that our faith is grounded on fact and history, not myth and legend.
Christmas Series - 2014
Sermon # 2
“The Genealogy of the King”
(vv. 1, 3-7, 16)
I have always been both fascinated by genealogy and a little apprehensive about discovering the history of my family. I know that it is likely that I will not be proud of everything I find out. And if you know much about your ancestors, it is likely that you know of a few skeletons in your family closet. If you were drawing up a family tree for the world to see, there are perhaps a few individuals that you would be tempted to leave out; family members whose lives we may not wish to be made public knowledge. I have often told you that I am a real “Hill-Billy” and that my father came from the Ozarks. My grandfather had a “moon-shine still” (and no I don’t still have it). My family was even in a real life feud. The feud began when my grandmother’s father shot and killed my grand-father’s brother. I am afraid if I dig deep into my family history there may be more.
Matthew begins his story of the birth of Jesus with a genealogy, which seems like an exceedingly dull way to begin a book much less to launch the New Testament. We might wonder why God would devote so much space in the Bible to recording a boring list of difficult to pronounce names of people who live thousands of years ago, half way around the world. Why is that relevant to us?
The fact that we have here a genealogy of Jesus Christ (1:1) establishes an important truth: our faith is rooted in history, not in myth or legend. As we noted in last week’s message there are more than 300 hundred prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus. Last week we looked at the centerpiece of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming king in Isaiah 9. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would “reign over the house of Israel forever” (Isaiah 9:7). So the coming king, the Messiah, would be a descendant of David, through Solomon, and would have an eternal reign. The presentation of Jesus, in Matthew begins by showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of those promises, He was the promised Messiah!
Notice three things as we examine the genealogy of Jesus!
First, Conflicts in the Genealogies of Jesus. (Matt. 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38)
There are in fact two genealogies of Jesus given in the New Testament, one in Matthew and the other in Luke. Matthew, written to the Jews, starts at Abraham goes forward to the birth of Jesus. Luke, written primarily to the Gentiles, goes backwards from Jesus, not just to Abraham but all the way to the father of all humanity - Adam.
If you study the genealogies in Matthew and Luke you will find that they are in pretty much in agreement until they get to King David. In Matthew the line is traced through Solomon and in the Luke the line is traced through another son of David, Nathan. Does this mean that there is an error in the Bible? No it does not!
Most people believe that Matthew is recording the line of Joseph and Luke is recording the line of Mary. Matthew shows that Jesus was legally in the kingly line of David. There are thirty-nine “begats” in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus but the most important one is the one that is not there! Matthew is careful not to make the claim that Jesus was the biological son of Joseph. He chooses his words very carefully when he says, “Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” (Matt-hew 1:16). By saying “of whom was born Jesus” -“whom” is feminine in Greek, showing that Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus. Still it was important that Jesus be shown to have legal claim to the throne of David through the father’s side, and this was true because he was “legally” Joseph’s oldest son. Thus Matthew established the legal claim to the throne that Jesus had.
Luke wanted to show that Jesus was human and traced the blood-line back through Mary to David. Both Joseph and Mary have the same lineage up to a point, they were distantly related but not close enough to be problem. But they were both descended from David the king.
Secondly, Outcasts In the Genealogy of Jesus.
Since Matthew is a Jew writing the genealogy of Jesus to a Jewish audience to prove that Jesus was their king, you would think that he would go out of his way to show that Jesus’ family tree was without any shame or embarrassing relatives. But the Bible doesn’t keep the door shut on the skeletons in the family closets of its heroes. Even when it comes to tracing the ancestry of the Messiah, he shows us the unsavory characters in the family line. The list includes an adulterer who murder-ed his lover’s husband to cover up the misdeed. There is a man who committed incest with his daughter- in-law, whom he thought was a prostitute (which says some-thing about his lack of morals). Another woman in the list was a prostitute. And, there is a notoriously wicked king who burned his sons to death as offerings to a pagan idol. It’s a rather unlikely mix to produce the Savior of the world!