The Genealogy of Jesus - Matthew 1:1-17 (Sermon)
I am Pastor Rob. Who are you? I mean, who are you? Are you a Hosier, Michigander, or Chicagoan? Are you Irish or Italian, or Swedish? Who are you? What is your personality like? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What is your birth order? Are you the typical first born or second born? Are you more like your mom or dad? Do you think you are who you are because of your genetics or your upbringing? Have you ever done one of those genetic tests like 23-and-me? I haven’t. Genealogy ties us to history and helps define us. I do know I am a European mutt and a quarter Dutch. My family has done some genealogy. I am the son of David Nash,
Son of Lowell Nash,
Son of Floyd Nash,
Son of Loring Nash,
Son of Melissa Hutchinson,
Daughter of Loring Hutchingson,
Son of David Hutchinson,
Son of Alice Williams,
Daughter of Alice Metcalf,
Daughter of Joseph Metcalf,
Son of Alice Bradford,
Daughter of Major William Bradford Jr., who was the son of the man Governor William Bradford. Who, on November 11th, 1620, landed with his ship of Pilgrims. He came to make a new nation with freedom and blessing for all people. It worked out pretty well. That is my biggest claim to fame in fourteen generations. How about you? Who is the most famous person you are related to? How does your family history impact you? Knowing your ancestry can be helpful with medical history. We can discover some personality traits and possibly looks. It can connect us to history. In Jesus’s day, more than ours, whom a person was related to defined them. Jesus’s genealogy set the stage for what the book of Matthew is all about and will show us how we benefit.
Today, we are starting our sermon series in this first book in the New Testament. We will take our time to unpack what it means as pastors and a church. This will take over a year but less than two. The pastors came up with this melodic line, or in other words main idea, for the book:
You will see this poster around.
We will hear this theme again and again: Follow the Promised King Into His Kingdom.
Matthew is all about the church following Jesus.
Who do you think wrote Matthew? Good guess. Why do you say that? Well, that is the title. That is what the study notes say. That is what the introduction material says. Why? Nowhere in the book does it say that Matthew wrote it. We believe Matthew wrote it because the earliest sources attribute it to him.
Who was he then? Matthew was also known as Levi, indicating his ancestry from the Jewish tribe of Levi. He was a tax collector. Tax collectors were hated because they worked for the enemy, Rome, and made a living taking money from people. So Matthew left his lucrative business to follow Jesus around for three years. We read about this in Matthew chapter 9.
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9–13)
Thus, Jesus called Matthew to follow him, and he did. After Jesus died, rose, and ascended into heaven, Matthew went to share the gospel in what is modern-day Iran, then back through Israel to Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, he ended up dying shortly after writing this book. Like the other biographers of Jesus, Matthew shared the story first by word of mouth. Eventually, he wrote it out. Conservative scholarship thinks it was written sometime in the middle of the first century. The bottom line is that God inspired these words.
Typically, I have someone read us. I have not asked anyone this time. Does anyone want to read it? Any volunteers? I am kidding. That could be cruel.
Try pronouncing names like,
I am not going to even try to pronounce,
Do you see what I mean? Aren’t you glad your parents went with a name easier to pronounce? However, I would like us to look at some of these verses in chapter 1. If you have your Bibles, open to the book of Matthew. It is the first book in the New Testament. We are going to be preaching from verses 1 through 17. Let’s look at verses 1–3, 5–6, and 16–17. If you can, would you stand with me in honor of God’s Word?
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.
and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.
and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. (Matthew 1:1–3; 5–6; 16–17)
Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word, every word. You are good. Help us to know what the point of all this is. In Jesus Christ’s name, amen. You may be seated.
How did Matthew organize his thoughts? He tells us in verse 1 what these seventeen verses are all about, a genealogy of Jesus. Then, verses 2 through 6 trace the history from Abraham to King David. Verses 6 through 11 take us from David to the deportation of Israel. In verses 12 through 16, we go from the deportation to the birth of Jesus. Finally, verse 17 restates this structure.
I find three fascinating issues that can distract us from Matthew’s main point. The first is the number, the second is the missing kings, and the third is the difference between Matthew and Luke’s genealogy.
I went on paper, adding up the number of generations, and I came up with forty-one generations. That is a problem. I added it up three times. I did the math correctly. What was going on? Fourteen plus fourteen plus fourteen, three even numbers should equal an actual number, forty-two, not forty-one. What was Matthew doing? Even numbers added together never add up to odd numbers. I did more research and found several explanations. Many have speculated as to why there are 41 names. If you count David twice, you get forty-two. In Sunday school, someone suggested counting Jesus twice. Or, one may be counted but not counting one of the four missing kings. A king is missing after verse 11. Josiah was the grandfather of Jeconiah. He had a son by the name of Jehoiakim. He was not really in the line of kings because he was a puppet king of Pharaoh in Egypt. (Possibly, the numeric value of the consonants for David’s name is 14. The Hebrew word for David is composed of a D, V, and D. Those are the fourth and sixth letters. If you had the values of the consonants together, you get fourteen. If you count David twice, you get forty-two names. Another oddity is that fourteen divided by two is seven. Thus, there are six groups of seven generations. Meaning after Christ is the seventh generation and the perfect number. The scholar I read said that these may or may not have been on Matthew’s mind.) Those may or may not be the solutions to the problem with the generations. Why does Matthew make such a big deal about the number fourteen? Indeed, the number fourteen creates symmetry and is easier to memorize. We don’t know exactly; from the plain reading of the text, the point is not the numbers themselves. Matthew is getting at something here, and it is repeated. (https://www.gotquestions.org/14-generations.html )
Another problem that can distract us is Matthew left off three kings in verse 8 after Joram: Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. So not only do we have Jehoiakim missing from the list three other ancestors are missing. Why might that be? My favorite suggestion was from a man named Hilary of Poitiers. He was a bishop in the fourth century. In AD 356, the emperor of Rome exiled him for his faith in an area near Galatia, modern Turkey. While there, he wrote a commentary on Matthew and made this observation about the three missing kings, “It was done in this way because Joram begot Ahaziah from a pagan woman, that is, from the household of Ahab, and it was declared by the prophet that not until the fourth generation would anyone from the household of Ahab sit on the throne of the kingdom of Israel…By removing the disgrace of a pagan family and bypassing its ancestry, the royal origin of those to follow in the fourth generation is then counted.” (https://ca.thegospelcoalition.org/columns/detrinitate/why-does-matthew-skip-4-names-in-the-genealogy-of-jesus/ ). Hilary cited the prophecy found in 2 Kings chapter 10, verse 30, to lay out a plausible solution for Matthew skipping three generations. What was Matthew doing? Hilary suggested Matthew was persevering the royal line from David to Jesus by cutting out these kings.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MATTHEW AND LUKE
Then what do we do with the difference between Luke and Matthew? It is often explained as one goes through the line of Mary and the other Joseph. The fact is Matthew was making a point.
What was Matthew’s point? Please, write this down.
Jewish history has pointed to a coming king that will bless all people and that king is Jesus.
These verses are like a treasure map directing us to this point. There are little markers about Jesus that the Jewish person would see or hear when the names of these people were read.
WHAT WE KNOW
Go to the first verse.
“The book of the genealogy” (Matthew 1:1).
The Greek words are Βίβλος γενέσεως. The word γενέσεως means genealogy and is the same root word Genesis γένεσις. They are just in different forms, genitive versus nominative. Genealogy organizes the book of Genesis. Thus, it makes sense that Matthew begins the New Testament.
Jewish history has pointed to a coming king that will bless all people and that king is Jesus.
But that is not all we discover in the first verse. Keep reading for more treasure.
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:1).
The word Christ is a key in Matthew. He used it sixteen times. Now, you likely know Christ is not his last name. It was a title. It meant anointed one. In the Jewish culture, kings were anointed with oil. The Jews believed, and some still do, that one would come after king David and fulfill 2 Samuel 7 verses 12 through 14.
2 SAMUEL 7
God spoke to King David. The prophet Samuel recorded it for us to read. It is part of the Davidic Covenant. Let’s read it now.
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. (2 Samuel 7:12–14)
When David died, God promised to raise a descendant who would establish his kingdom forever, and Solomon was not him. Rehoboam was not him. Abijah was not him. Asaph was not him. Jehoshaphat was not him. Joram was not him. Uzziah was not him. Jotham was not him. Ahaz was not him. Hezekiah was a good king, but he was not him. Manasseh was certainly not him. Amos was not him. Josiah was not him. Jechoniah was not him. This descendant would build a temple, a house, and a kingdom that would never end. God was Jesus’s Father. The time had come. The King was coming into his kingdom.
SON OF DAVID
Let’s keep digging for treasure. Go back to verse 1.
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1).
For Jesus to be the promised anointed one, he would have to be an ancestor of King David. Verse 1 tells us that he was. Matthew will prove this with over two dozen witnesses as we will see beyond this genealogy.
In chapter 1 verse 20, the Angel of the Lord called Joseph, Jesus’s step-dad, a “Son of David.”
In chapter 2, verse 1, several wisemen from the east come to Jerusalem and ask king Herod, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews.”
Chief priests and scribes tell Herod the Great that Christ would be born in Bethlehem of Judea, chapter 2, verse 4. They based this proclamation on a prophecy from Micah chapter 5, verse 2.
In Matthew 9:27, two blind men call out to Jesus for mercy as the son of David.
In the prison of Herod Antipas (Herod the Great’s son), the rumor was that Jesus was the Christ in 11:2. John the Baptist inquired of Jesus through his followers if this rumor was true.
Indirectly, Jesus affirmed this identity to John the Baptist.
In chapter 15, verse 22, a Canaanite woman asked Jesus the “Son of David” for help with her demon possessed daughter.
In chapter 16, verse 16, Jesus said that God the Father revealed the truth to Simon Peter when he said of Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:16).
Jesus affirmed this title a few verses later.
Two more blind men repeatedly called Jesus Lord and the Son of David when he passed by the road in chapter 20, verse 30.
On the week Jesus was to die, children cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David” in Matthew chapter 21, verse 15.
Even the Pharisees acknowledged that whoever the Christ was to be would be a descendant of David in chapter 22, verse 42.
As you can see, the evidence is overwhelming within Matthew that the “Christ,” the anointed one, would be a son of David and that Jesus was this “Christ” in question.
We aren’t done. Let’s get back and find more treasure in verse 1. Jesus was not only the son of David and a fulfillment of a promise from a thousand years before but an even longer awaited answer to God’s promise to Abraham. Look at verse 1.
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).
This connection is meant to evoke a reminder of Genesis chapter 12. Keep your bookmark in Matthew and turn to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Now go to the 12th chapter. Look at verse 2. God spoke to Abraham.
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:2–3)
If you remember, Abraham only had one son of Sarah. He didn’t have a million to make a nation. If you remember, he was wealthy, but not so rich that he had enough land to make a country. God was communicating to him about a reality coming from his progeny, his descendants. And Jesus was his descendant. And he would bless all the families of the earth. Out of his work will result in a new royal nation, a holy people of God’s possession who will proclaim how excellent God is. We will discover more about Jesus’s purpose in the coming weeks. In short, he came to die. He came to save his people from their sin. The fact that Jesus was a son of Abraham and David fulfilled God’s covenant promises. He was the one who would reverse the curse, bless all peoples, and become a King of kings and Lord of lords, who one day every knee shall bow and tongue confess as such. In the meantime, Abraham had to wait. King David had to wait. The prophets and people waited for God’s faithful completion of his Word. Over the years, decades, centuries, millennia, many could no longer wait and fell away. They gave up on God. And God gave them over to the nations. They were deported from Israel. However, God did not abandon his people altogether. He patiently bided his time for the planned opportunity to bring this Savior into the world. Thus, in one verse, we hear the pregnant hope realized in one name: Jesus.
GOD USED ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE
Through Jesus, God will bless all the families of the Earth. Not everyone will accept or receive this, but for those who do, they are welcomed the same. A foretaste of God’s universal invitation to all people to be part of God’s saving plan is this genealogy. God used men and women, Jews and Gentiles, even those deemed evil, to bring Jesus onto the stage of history. In the genealogy, in this masculine culture, there are five women represented. They are not all holy or Jewish. Tamar was a Canaanite who continued her line with sin; Rahab was also a Canaanite who was a prostitute by trade and lied to rescue God’s people. Ruth was a Moabite who converted to Judaism. Bathsheba was not mentioned by name but was the wife of the Hittite man named Uriah. Her son was not Uriah’s, but the adulterer and murderer David’s. The line concludes with a teenage nobody named Mary. God uses all types of people however he chooses for his purposes.
Jewish history went through ups and downs, mostly downs. It went from God’s covenant blessing to being slaves in Egypt to freedom to wandering for forty years in the wilderness to the Promised Land to a time of judges and doing what is right in one’s own eyes to the rise of the kings to their fall, to the destruction of the temple, and exile. People longed for relief, hope, freedom, victory, and help right up to Jesus’s arrival. We still have these longings for comfort. Jesus’s life began with a scandal, teenage pregnancy, angelic visions, a small town living, mass murder, no-name fishers, and other ragtag followers. Then, it unfurls like a flower showing God’s miraculous power, complexity, and wisdom. It concludes with the surprising twist of death, resurrection, redemption, and commission to tell the world about Jesus, who will bless all peoples.
This is a remarkable book that calls us to worship. We are to respond in faith and praise. We serve a God who cares so much that he sent his one and only Son Jesus to come, live, die, and rise on our behalf. The king fulfills his promise and blesses all nations, including you and me. That is the point of these verses.
Jewish history has pointed to a coming king that will bless all people and he was Jesus.
If you have not believed this, do so.
How are we blessed? Amazingly, we can become part of the family tree of Jesus, a son or daughter of God, and brother to Christ by faith through grace. You may not be related to William Bradford or anyone famous, for that matter. Don’t be jealous. You have a far better relationship. You can be connected to the most famous person, Jesus, the Christ, son of David and son of Abraham. He was the most incredible man ever to have lived.
On top of that, he was the perfect god-man. He came to make a new nation and bring freedom from sin and blessing to all people who would follow and believe. We will talk more about that in the coming weeks. Galatians chapter 4 says this,
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4–7)
You are blessed, church, by faith through grace. Who are you? If you believe, then you are adopted into God’s family. He is your heavenly Father, and you are an heir apparent. Isn’t that amazing! Let us praise God for Jesus.
Pray with me. Heavenly Father, give us the grace to hear what you want. Help us worship your Son Jesus today and every day. He is the Christ, the anointed one, son of David, and son of Abraham. He is our blessing; he is our hope and joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.
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