Summary: how Jesus’ geneology (whakapapa) reveals his nature

MATTHEW 1 - verses 1 to 17. The whakapapa of Jesus.

Today we are going to continue on the advent theme by looking at Matthews account of the birth of the Christ child.

Matthew starts his account with a geneology

If we are being honest with ourselves many of us would never had read this scripture.

Many of us would simply skip this section and started Matthew’s gospel at verse 18.

Infact if someone was to write a book on the top ten least read pieces of scripture there would probably be a chapter or two on the genealogy of Jesus.

The question is though If you had been given a job to tell someone’s life story how would you start?


Maybe you’re going to be best man at a wedding,

and you just want to say a few words to sum up who the bride groom is.

Maybe you’ve been asked to give a tribute to a close friend.

Then again maybe its just a person you want to introduce to a friend or colleague


In our society

we would probably start by saying in a short sentence an introduction about the person.

Who they are

Maybe where they come from or what they do for a living.

Matthew though is not a Gentile Christian like us

infact he was probably a Jewish convert to Christianity,

a man who lived at a time when the majority of Christians wanted nothing to do with the Jewish origins of the Christian faith,

Matthew then was a Jew and he wanted to write a gospel with a Jewish flavor to it.

Something that he could use to evangelize his fellow Jews and bring them to faith in Christ.

So Matthew starts his gospel account in a way that relates to Jews with a genealogy

the most natural way to introduce Christ to a first century Jew.

You see in writing this Genealogy Matthew is able to say a lot more about Jesus than just where he comes from and what he does for a living.

Matthew has given the reader an opportunity to some how build up a picture of who this Jesus is,

he has given a sense of the identity of Jesus to his reader.


You could even say that a genealogy has much the same importance to a first century Jew as the whakapapa has to the Maori.

It not only traces the persons family back to a root, Abraham for the Jew,

and maybe Kupe for the Maori,

but It says that the person is someone,

that they have a pedigree.

Take Herod for instance his genealogy had absolutely no pedigree, because he was only half Jew

infact his genealogy was that much of an embracement to him that he ordered the burning of it, to hide his shame.

A geneology also says that this person didn’t just appear out of thin air,

but that this person belongs to a family,

that they have a history

and an identity.

From a whakapapa you get to know a person, without having to meet them.

And so what we have before us is the genealogy of Jesus, the whakapapa of Jesus.


Another way of looking at what Matthew hopes to achieve is to look at this genealogy or whakapapa like it was the credits to a movie or feature film.

So lets go on a journey 2000 years back in time to the Bethlehem Regent Cinema.

Now of course you are here to see a movie,

unfortunately you don’t know what the movie is called

but you know it must be a good movie because you’ve heard people talking about it everywhere,

they said it was an action adventure,

with just a hint of drama,

and some great historical settings,

the perfect way to spend your Sabbath afternoon.


Now you remember seeing a billboard poster about this movie

it said that this story has been over 4000 years in the making.

The culmination of a story that began with Abraham, continues to the birth of a nation,

and its fall,


and temporary restoration.

This story is more than just a story though,

because its about a promise, it’s about a promise that was made a very long time ago

a promise of deliverance.

Of course you are a Jew

as was your father

and his father

and his father’s father.

All of you have heard the rumors about this story

but your the lucky one,

the one who actually gets to see the events unfold before you on the silver screen.

Its no wonder then why so many people are excited about this movie,

why so many people have talked about nothing else


Imagine your shock then when you see the credits to this movie.

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Chris Stephanus Smeda

commented on Dec 10, 2017

Excellent ideas. I would like to use some of them in my Christmas sermon. God bless your ministry.

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