Writers are usually told to start their books with a hook that will immediately engage their readers. Matthew begins his gospel with a list of names. Could anything be more boring? Yet Matthew did start with a bang. This list is relevant to every human being who ever lived.
Matthew begins his gospel like this:
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. – Matthew 1:1
Matthew identifies Jesus as the Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham and David are the two most important people for Jesus to be related to.
Abraham was a man chosen by God for extraordinary things.
1Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2And 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. 3I 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 12:1-3
- God promised to bless Abraham, and through him, to bless all the families of the earth.
- The promise is to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and his descendants (Genesis 26:1-5).
- Then the promise goes to Isaac’s son Jacob, who is renamed “Israel” (Genesis 28:10-15).
- Jacob is the father of 12 sons who become the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel.
- God gave Jacob the name of Israel and the nation is named Israel after Jacob.
- As the book of Genesis ends, God has promised a great and wonderful blessing to all the nations of the earth, and this blessing will come through the Jewish people, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- Matthew tells us, Jesus is a son of Abraham.
And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. – 2 Samuel 7:16
- Eventually, God settled the descendants of Jacob’s 12 sons into the land of Israel and they became their own nation.
- After some time in the land as their own nation, God chose David to be king over the children of Israel.
- God made a great promise to David, as great as the promise God made earlier to Abraham (2 Samuel 7:1-17).
- God is going to bless the world through the throne of David.
- God tells David that his descendants will sit on the throne of Israel forever.
- As a descendant of Abraham, David is a crucial part of how Abraham’s descendants are going to bless the world.
- Only a descendant of David is qualified to sit on David’s throne.
- Matthew tells us, Jesus is a son of David.
- David was followed by his son Solomon.
- After the death of Solomon, two of his sons fought for the throne which ended in a civil war that split the kingdom. The northern part of Israel split away from David’s kingdom and formed a new kingdom with a new king who was one of David’s sons. The southern part formed a nation with a different son of David on the throne.
- Ultimately, both the northern and southern nations fell into godlessness and rebellion.
- God judged them by destroying the throne of David and sending the children of Israel into captivity in Babylon.
- The prophets said, that God was still going to keep His promise to David that his throne would last forever.
- The prophets said, one day a descendant of David will come who would sit on David’s throne forever. This coming king will abolish evil, establish justice, bring peace, and conquer death. This one king, a son of David, will bring blessing to the entire world.
- Over time, people started calling this coming king “the Anointed One” or the Messiah.
- Our word “Christ” comes from the Greek word for “the Anointed One.”
- The Messiah, the Christ is the coming king who will re-establish David’s throne and rule over all the earth, bringing God’s promised blessing to all the nations.
- Matthew tells us, Jesus is the Christ.
- Matthew announces in his first verse that those promises to Abraham and David are fulfilled in Jesus who is the 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 1:17
- This story is further reflected in the structure of the genealogy itself.
- God promises Abraham that the world will be blessed through his descendants. The first section lists Abraham’s descendants, culminating in David.
1The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6and Jesse the father of David the king. – Matthew 1:1-6
- God promised David that one of his descendants will sit on his throne forever and will bless the entire world through his rule.
- The second part of the genealogy lists the kings of Israel when God’s promises are focused on David.
6And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. – Matthew 1:6-11
- The line of kings comes to an end at the hands of the Babylonians, and people are waiting for the true Anointed One to come.
- The third part of the genealogy deals with the time after the exile.
- The third list records David’s descendants who were not kings, but who were waiting for the true king to come.
- That hope is realized with the birth of Jesus, the Christ.
12And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 17So 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 1:12-17
The fundamental message of the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel is: This man Jesus is the Christ, the son of David and the son of Abraham.