Saturday, August 26, 2023

2023.08.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 1:1–17

Read Matthew 1:1–17

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Matthew 1:1 call this book (cf. Genesis 5:1)? Whose genealogy—what is His Name, and what is His title? From which two fathers is He highlighted to have originated? Which four patriarchs are named in Matthew 1:2? Who else are added at the end? Which three more male ancestors are named in Matthew 1:3? Which seven more are named in Matthew 1:4-6? Which four female ancestors are identified? What do they have in common? Who are the ancestors named in Matthew 1:6-11? What event interrupts the line of David? Through whom does Jeconiah connect to Jesus (Matthew 1:12-16)? Why would He be traced through His earthly father (Matthew 1:16)? What is His mother’s name? What is He called? What does Matthew 1:17 point out about these generations?

How and why did God bring Jesus Christ into the world? Matthew 1:1–17 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seventeen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Jesus Christ is the Son of promise and authority, Who accomplishes God’s mission in the world. 

The Son of Adam. Psalm 24 famously asks, “Who is this King of glory?” The gospel of Matthew is all about the Lord Jesus as the King. So, the introduction introduces us to the King. And it ties Him back to Abraham and David, but further than that. The opening of the book is a direct quote of Genesis 5:1 (one of the ten “generations” statements that punctuate the book of Genesis). In that case, it was what was generated from Adam, but in this case it is from where the incarnate Jesus Christ was generated. 

The genealogy in Genesis 5 is looking for the Seed Who will crush the serpent’s head. It doesn’t mention Cain. It doesn’t mention Abel. It only mentions that they were created and blessed in the image of God (cf. Genesis 5:1–2) and then jumps straight to Seth (cf. Genesis 5:3). The question is: how will man return to that likeness and blessedness? Who will be the promised Seed? It is this thread that Matthew now picks up with Jesus Christ. In Greek, Matthew 1:1 here literally reads, “The book of the genesis of Jesus Christ.”

The Son of Abraham. Genesis 5 really concludes with Noah, but after Noah was spared by God (Genesis 6–9:17), his line again fell very quickly into sin (Genesis 9:18–28). Many nations descended from him (Genesis 10), but they all end up united in Satanic self-exaltation, and the Lord mercifully un-unites them (Genesis 11:1–9). The nations that came from Shem had been listed in Genesis 10:21–31 as part of the “families, generations, and nations” of the earth (cf. Genesis 10:32). But the Holy Spirit follows the merciful scattering from Babel with a more focused genealogy: more focused, that is, upon Abram (cf. Genesis 11:10–32). For, it was to Abram that YHWH now said, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c).

So, when Matthew  writes, “the Son of Abraham,” the Holy Spirit is making the point that Jesus Christ is the Son in Whom that promise would come true. Not because Abraham was good. Indeed, he and Terah had been idolators (cf. Joshua 24:2). Only because God was gracious. The line from Abraham to David really brings this out. God chooses to use the younger (Isaac, Jacob, Judah) to show that blessedness comes not by right but by promise. God chooses to use sinners, especially highlighted by Tamar (and Judah, who was more wicked than she in that incident, cf. Genesis 38:26), Rahab the prostitute, and David (whose sin, rather than his righteousness, is emphasized by the statement in Matthew 1:6b), to show that blessing comes not by merit but by mercy. God chooses to use outsiders, especially highlighted again by Tamar and Rahab, to whom we may add Ruth, to show that blessedness is not by descent but by sovereign election. Matthew writes of the One Who will bring blessedness to all nations (cf. Matthew 28:19). Jesus Christ is the Son of Abraham, the Son of promise.

The Son of David. In addition to being the Son of promise, Jesus is the Son of authority. This too belongs to the triumphant conclusion of the book (cf. Matthew 28:18). In this case, He is not only the Son of Abraham, but especially the Son of David, from whom the forever-King was to descend (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12–16). From David to Jesus, we have not one 14-generation span, but two. There is an interruption in Matthew 1:11-12, where the promise seems to hang by a thread. This is, in part, to show God’s grace that is His blessing for those who deserve only curse. The kingly line declines more and more, and there are some truly wicked men in the lineage. And it is like king, like nation, for they persist in the very sins for which the Lord had warned them in Deuteronomy that He would expel them from the land. 

But there is also, here, the point that the kingdom comes by God’s grace in that His strength is made perfect in weakness. There were men of little renown in the previous list (we know quite little about Hezron or Ram, for instance), but there are now quite a few of them from Babylon to Joseph. Jesus comes from a royal line, but He is born into a time in that line in which it has come into a very low condition. Blessing through those who deserved only curse; strength through those who had only weakness. Truly, the genesis of Jesus Christ, the origin of Jesus Christ is all of grace—even humanly speaking, with reference to the line from which He came.

The Christ. All of this brings us to the summary statement in Matthew 1:17—one that may strike us odd for a couple of reasons. First, if we examine various genealogies closely, we know that not all the generations are listed here. Second, even if they were all listed, we might not know what to make out of three fourteens. The answer is that these are not intended to convey exact number of chronology, but making the point that the reason the Spirit gives us these exact names is to communicate something theological. From Abraham to Christ are three fourteens, which is six sevens. Now, the Christ comes to be, by Himself, the seventh seven. He is the fulfillment of the promises, the fulfillment of all redemptive history. In Jesus, the promise and kingdom have come!

Dear reader, all of human history finds its goal in Jesus Christ. All promise finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. All authority in heaven and earth belongs to Jesus Christ. Through the families of Abraham and David, blessing and kingdom were to come. And now, in Jesus Christ, they have! He is the King of glory. Hope in Him for all your blessing, and rejoice to have Him as your King!

From where has your cursedness come? From whom can come your blessedness? Under whose reign did you come into this world? What King can deliver you and take you as His? What is the point of all that God is doing in the nations?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Your Son to be the Seed Who crushed the serpent’s head, the Son of Abraham in Whom we are blessed, and the Son of David Who delivers us and reigns over us. Give us to live in Him, we ask through His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH24B “The Earth and Its Riches”

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