Matthew 1:1-17, The King has Come!
As Jesus comes in the world via His incarnation, His incarnation needs to come into us the leader. Christian leadership is all about operating in and by Christ, being His Hands and Feet with His precepts!
Matthew starts his gospel with a seemingly dry and boring discourse to which we may say, "What's up with this string of names?" We do not even give a thought or a glance to what personal or ecclesiastical benefit can be had here or what spiritual insight can be gleaned. However, this is a list of people-people like us who testify to how God works through the ages, through various people and through circumstances. This even tells us how God redeems and works with and through not only the people we may expect Him to, but also the unlikely people we would perhaps never consider as worthy. Jesus comes from an incredible line of diverse people, such as Patriarchs and kings whom we might expect; in addition, listed beside Him are righteous people as well as those who were improbable, dubious, and even wicked, such as captives, the obscure, and the insignificant-even traders, prisoners, adulterers, murderers, and harlots.
This is a pedigree seemingly unfit for a champion K-9, yet fit for the Ultimate LORD, Savior, and King of the Universe. It is a testimony and a testament of how God keeps His great promises, and shows Christ's right to the Kingship of the world through the lineage of David. Jesus is the King! And, the King has arrived! Spurgeon gives this passage and Book of Matthew the title, "The King Has Come," to which we must respond, my God and my King! This is the anticipation from the very beginnings of God's introduction into humanity, through Adam and Eve's failure and sin, and God's promises to bring redemption through their descendants-a Savior to save us from our fall into sin. Here is that list (Gen. 3).
1. Matthew is the only one of the four Gospels that begins with the genealogy of Jesus. A key point for us is that God made promises-and God keeps His promises!
a. Genealogy / Generation means "origin" also it can mean history and record (Gen. 2:4; 5:1).
b. Jesus the King, who was also the son of David and of Abraham, fulfilled that promise! Abraham is the one whom God used to initiate His promise and plant His seed. It was a linage of faith from the Patriarchs and their descendants, birthing a nation that was to honor the One, True, Sovereign God. Judaism was meant to show who God was and how all can know Him through the priesthood, law, the faith of obedience, and the heart. It was a call to show the carnal world His Way by faith and obedience, and finally bringing The Way-Christ, as Savior and Lord (Gen 12:1-3).
c. Matthew starts his Gospel with the same phrase as Genesis 2:4, a hallmark to grab the attention of his Jewish audience.
d. Some may consider this passage dry and arduous; however, 2 Tim. 3:16-17 tells us that all Scripture is profitable:
i. It is profitable for doctrine!
ii. It is profitable for instruction in righteousness!
iii. Thus, we have great things to learn, even from this seemingly obscure passage.
2. Why does Matthew begin with this genealogy? Mainly, because Matthew wrote for the Jews; so, this genealogy is of paramount importance to convince Jews that Jesus has the right to be and, in fact, is the Messiah, the promised King, and Deliverer. Since Mark wrote for the Romans, Luke wrote for the Greeks, and John wrote for the world and the new church, they did not need to do that (Gen. 5, 10, 1 Chron. 1-9).
a. The father of / Begot/ beget, a verb that means as modern translators have stated, the father of.
b. Matthew's aim was to show how Jesus fulfilled Jewish prophecy (Matt. 1:22-23; 2:4-6,14-15,17-18,23)
c. The Messiah had to be a descendant of Abraham (Gen 22:18)
d. The Messiah had to be a descendant of David (Isa. 11:1-2)
e. If Jesus had not been a descendant of David, He could not have been the Messiah!
3. This passage, written in the Greek, is in a poetic and metrical form. The genealogy is divided into three sections of fourteen names each, covering over 2000 years in a rich, rhythmic sequence, perhaps for easy memorization (1:17)
a. Generations means an age or period not always a literal 40 year period or equal periods of time or a timeline of a persons life, hence the time discrepancy.
b. Abraham to David is 1000 years
c. David to the Babylonian captivity is 400 years
d. Babylonian captivity to Jesus is 600 years.
e. Jesus' "legal" right to David's throne is established.
f. It is very unusual that women are mentioned! This would be the start of liberation, how God uses unlikely people, and the relationship of Christ to stained and sinful humanity.
i. Tamar, a "pretend" harlot who represented Judas's failure through sin and incest. That tells us Christ is the friend of sinners, giving us hope and redemption!
ii. Rahab, a prostitute, one God would use even though society threw her away.
iii. Ruth, who was of unclean Gentile blood, but whose lineage birthed David, showing that God s a friend of the humble, poor, and obscure, and He favors faith over pedigree.
iv. Ruth, a non-Jew, who was under a curse ("Moab," Duet. 23:3-5) and who "corrupted" the royal blood line with Gentile blood.
v. David, the favored king, whose heart was after His, but who sinned grievously and suffered the consequences, and how God accepted his repentance.
vi. Bathsheba, an adulteress who fell to sin, but who received the great promise to be in the lineage of the Messiah (2 Sam 11)!
vii. A lineage of faithful kings of character, all of whom struggled with sin, unfaithfulness to God and country, and were not perfect, as well as those who were as bad as can be-even unspeakably evil.
viii. A lineage of the forgotten, those whose contributions have been lost, those who made no contribution, prisoners and captives, the poor and the ordinary that shows us that God does not forget; we can either be prisoners of sin or liberated with hope; Christ gives us the key.
4. There are several theories regarding the difference between the genealogies of Luke and Matthew. The prevailing Evangelical view is that Matthew shows Joseph's lineage, and Luke shows Mary's, descending from David through his son Nathan. The "problem" is that Luke starts with Joseph, who is the adoptive parent and Jesus inherited his "physical" heritage. The reality is that both sets of genealogies are "gap" genealogies that only show a survey of key individuals to make the point that Jesus is descended from David and has the right to the throne. Matthew's point is that Jesus is Jewish and has the "legal" right to be Messiah.
a. Luke goes back to Adam (Luke 3:23-38), while Matthew comes through Solomon and goes to Abraham. This suggests that there are "gaps" between the names, or that they are abridged, especially when you take into account the time passages versus the life spans. Only principle names were used, and that is why they are different. Obviously, not all of the names of people could be used. Such omissions were the normal practice in Jewish genealogies as minor figures were deleted to make room for established, essential connections.
b. The most likely scenario is that Matthew does not give direct ancestors, but rather the names of those who are "legally" in line to the throne, while Luke gives direct ancestry names. Both start with David. One is from the "flesh" while the other is from the "legal."
c. Salvation is not by birth or lineage; it is by what God has done and by the faith He gives that we receive; Christ had to intervene in history and in us personally.
What can we learn today from an obscure list of ancient names, of which only a few may be familiar? These names are all born of promise and purpose, with mixed character and maturity, who struggled with carnality and life. None of these people were perfect; even David was an adulterer and murderer. All of them made both good and bad decisions, struggling with following their own will or being surrendered over to God. Some glorified God and some lived to themselves, just as we do personally and collectively as people today. Even Christian leaders and pastors have the same standards and call to be of faith and to obey. God works it all out for His glory as stated in Romans, chapter eight. God is indeed a friend to all who will call Him Lord. He is a friend to sinners, the obscure, the poor, and the friendless-His hand is always reaching out. Perhaps, this passage is a small glance into the mystery and wonder of God's Grace and incarnation, and how He intercedes and loves. It all points us to Christ, the One who saved us and the One whom we worship and trust as Lord over all-with our lives too!
Take this key point to heart and into the streets of your life: God is the God of promises. God made promises, and God keeps His promises! This means for you too! We all have hope beyond all hope, reason, and purpose! We have faith that is deeper and wider than we could ever imagine, a gift that we did not earn or deserve. Jesus the King, who was also the son of David and the son of Abraham, fulfilled that promise and demonstrated this faith! In addition, when you accepted Him, you became part of the promise and faith fulfilled.
Faith is not inherited! We cannot get it from our parents or our church, even though our lineage may be passed down for generations. Faith is personal and relational to Christ for each individual person who is in community with the Church, and it is to be real! As parents, we are responsible for bringing our children up in His light and character, but we are also responsible for receiving His grace and modeling His faith!
· We can have the faith and confidence that God does keep His word!
· We can trust Him with all of our needs, worries, and problems, even if we do not understand what God is doing!
· God transcends time. Therefore, when we are going though trials and tribulations, He is there-before, during, and after-carrying us through! Likewise, we can emulate Christ by keeping our promises to our faith, and our behaviors toward others around us!
· We are reminded of God's mercy!
Jesus is the ultimate humbler; He humbled Himself by taking on the likeness of a mere man; He was still also fully God when He came to this earth. He is God, Messiah, the Lord who was foretold and who has come, our Lord, our Savior and the King (Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 2:9-18)!
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
1. Have you ever researched your family tree? How far back can you trace your family? What does knowing your family history tell you about whom you are? What did your family pass on to you (consider genetics, behaviors, culture, etc.)?
2. Who were the significant spiritual people who influenced your faith and journey with Christ? What did they pass on to you?
3. Does this passage seem dry and boring? Why?
4. Why does Matthew begin with the genealogy of Jesus? Why is it important?
5. How can knowing the stories behind the people in this genealogy-all of the adventures, faith, struggles, and such-inspire you?
6. How does knowing that God works through diverse people, regardless of wealth, culture, or position, give you hope and assurance?
7. How assured are you that Christ will keep His great promises? How does this help you keep promises, and trust in Him and His promises?
8. Matthew shows Christ's right to the Kingship of the world. Does He have this right in you? What have you done with His Kingship-Lordship in you?
9. Before reading this study, did you see or consider that there are great things to learn even from this seemingly obscure passage? How can this help motivate your Bible reading?
10. How important to your faith is Jesus' "legal" right to be the Messiah?
11. What do you think about the role of women in a culture that considered them lower than farm animals, and that even harlots and an adulteress are used in the royal line? How does this give you more faith?
12. What can be learned today from an obscure list of ancient names, of which only a few may be familiar?
13. How can this passage help you know that God makes promises and God keeps His promises through all generations?
14. Can you trust Him with all of your needs, worries, and problems, even if you do not understand what is going on?
15. God transcends time. Therefore, when we are going though trials and tribulations, He is there-before, during, and after-carrying us through. How does this give you hope in times of distress?
16. What reminds you of God's mercy? Why can't faith be inherited?
17. How have you been reminded of God's mercy? How can you witness and take in the promise o have hope beyond hope, and a reason and purpose for your life?
18. How can you emulate Christ by keeping your promises to your faith and your behaviors/characters to others around you?
19. Jesus is the ultimate humbler: He humbled Himself by taking on the likeness of a mere man; He was still also fully God when He came to this earth. Knowing this, how can you live your life with an attitude of humility?
20. Read Phil. 2:5-8. How will your life, your actions, and your behaviors be changed with this passage rooted in your mind and heart?
"Wonder suppressing all wonders; the Word by whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh, and dwelt among us!" (Spurgeon)
© 2002, revised 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org