The Genealogy of Jesus 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 (ESV)
The Gospel of Matthew. Written by the least likely of disciples, Matthew the tax collector. Whenever we read a new book in the Bible context starts with who wrote it, when they wrote it and who they were writing to. Matthew was the scourge of Hebrew society. Tax collectors were viewed as traitors to their own people. They were seen as tools of the oppressive Roman empire and would routinely gouge their own people for extra monies, lining their pockets with illicit gain from their own brethren. That is an eerily similar look into our current darkness and the gouging of Christians we see from people in the pulpits lining their own pockets from the sheep they were entrusted with. If one wants further proof of the state of the tax collector during Matthew's day we can see it in the story of Zacchaeus in Luke's Gospel:
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." - Luke 19: 8-10 (ESV)
Note the implicit admission of defrauding and how money was his master before Jesus came into his home. The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost beloved. All of us. Not just in our neighborhood. Not just in our country. Not just in our ethnicity. Not just in our denominations. Matthew was as hated in his day as we see many hating Muslims today. Or homosexuals. Or atheists. I saw a sermon last year where a Mega church pastor was bellowing for all atheists to "get on a plane and get out of my country." That's an odd evangelism strategy. The self righteous Pharisees would often ask why Jesus hung around with such scum of society and His answer remains true through all time. He has not come for those who are well. It is the sick who need a doctor. Matthew was one of the sickest in his day yet he left it to follow Jesus and here he is, decades after the cross writing a Gospel that you and I read thousands of years later. THAT is how Jesus changes our lives.
Matthew opens up his Gospel account with the genealogy of Jesus Christ because his Gospel account was written to his fellow Jews. While seemingly unimportant, nothing is wasted in the Word of God. The first thing we see is that God is a God or order. Exactly fourteen generations between Abraham and David, between David and the exile, and between the exile and Jesus. What do the numbers mean? Absolutely nothing. Do not get drawn into the world of numerology, which we see exploding in these end times. God has not planted secret codes in His Word for us to crack. He has made known His will plainly for us to obey. The balance however indicates that God is an orderly God. He is not random. He does not do oopsies and accidents. The other main point I would cite is the presence of three women within the genealogy. Typically, women were not included in such genealogies during this male dominated world. Yet Matthew includes them because his listeners would immediately recognize them from Scripture but what it does for us today is reinforce the overall point about Jesus using anyone. The tax collector, the leper, the outcast. For who were these three women?
The first woman mentioned is Rahab the prostitute, who was found living in the idol worshiping, pagan city of Jericho. A foreshadowing of the church, Rahab had no benefit in her upbringing to know God. But she had heard about the God the Israelites served and when she had the opportunity, she helped the spies who had been sent into Jericho and as such, they spared her life when they overran the city. She is in fact the first recorded gentile conversion. Like the church to come, once spared by the grace of God, she was cleansed of her past, accepted into the culture of the Jewish people and would marry an Israelite named Salmon. Her son would be Boaz and Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, would be a direct descendent.
The above mentioned Boaz would marry a woman named Ruth, who is the second woman listed in the genealogy. Ruth was also a pagan, Moabite by birth. Ruth had married the son of an Israelite family while they were living in Moab. Yet we discover that sadly, her father-in-law, her husband, and her husband's only brother passed away. So Ruth had to decide whether to stay in Moab, her home, or to go with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Judah, a land she had never known. Her sister in law Orpah returned to Moab but Ruth would not leave Naomi. A picture for us of faithfulness in action. God rewards the faithful beloved:
But Boaz answered her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!" - Ruth 2: 11-12 (ESV)
When Ruth meets Boaz the tales of her faithfulness had already reached him and he was predisposed towards her. The Lord would repay her for what she had done and she would marry Boaz and her great grandson would be a man after God's own heart; King David. Blessed to be in the lineage of Jesus Christ. The final woman listed here is a familiar name, Bathsheba. Although that is not exactly how she is listed:
and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, - Matthew 1: 6 (ESV)
By the wife of Uriah. Ouch. The story of David's greatest failure. When he lusted and coveted another man's wife and then had him killed so he could cover up his adultery. We need to remember that if we ever think that we can get away with our sins and cover them up. God sees all and the Bible says He will bring to light that which we hide in the dark. One day we will stand bare before God and answer for our lives beloved. David did repent and God would restore but the conceived child died. It is interesting here that God does not reference her by her name. nor does He even reference her as the wife of David, which she was when Solomon was conceived and born. It is a stark reminder to us that God does not trifle with sin. It is no small matter that Uriah, who did nothing wrong, was cheated out of his covenant with God and his wife and eventually his own life. In this day and age where sin is a taboo subject or treated as if it is not a big deal, the mere genealogy of Christ screams at us that it is a big deal to a holy God. Solomon by the wife of Uriah.
The Birth of Jesus Christ
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." - Matthew 1: 21 (ESV)
I listened and reviewed a sermon recently from a mega church pastor who was using this section of Scripture as his base. The story of the birth of our Lord and Savior. Was it a sermon on the grand plan of God? Perhaps a message about the promises of salvation? No. it was about what to do when life throws you a curve ball. Because Mary was thrown a curveball. Joseph was thrown a curveball. Ugh. You have got to be kidding me. Let me briefly explain two hermeneutical terms. Two terms about Bible interpretation. One is exegesis and the other is eisegesis. I present this because there is a growing sentiment in the church that there are a plethora of plausible interpretations for Scripture and they are all right. That is a lie from the pits of hell. Of course Satan wants us to believe that our own unique perspectives are just so valuable but they are not. God intends one interpretation beloved. Only His perspective matters. There may be multiple applications but God was not schizophrenic when He wrote the Bible. He knew exactly what He was saying even if we do not want to hear Him. Exegesis is to exposit the Bible correctly. To approach the Bible to hear what sayeth the Lord. Eisegesis is to approach the Bible with your pre-supposed biases and place them into the text. It is to manipulate the Scriptures for an outcome you decided you wanted before you started reading. Deciding you want to preach about how to handle the curve balls of life and then strip mining the Bible to rip the story of the birth of Christ out to prop up your desire is the definition of eisegesis.