Matthew 1:1-17 - Roots

Hello and welcome to this brand new series titled the Bite-Sized Gospel. Every day we will read a small portion of the gospel and reflect on it briefly. We will begin with the Gospel of Matthew, which starts with a rather long genealogy of Jesus. Now I know that most of us skip through genealogies because we find them boring, but please stick with me until the end and you might be in for a surprise. Ready?  

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.


I’m pretty sure many of you were waiting for that to get over, probably wondering why Matthew would start his gospel with a long genealogy, instead of getting straight into the action like Mark did, or beginning with a tale of two miracle births like Luke did, or have the operatic opening of John (In the beginning was the Word). The reason is because genealogy was very important to the Jewish people who were Matthew’s main audience.

Let us see what we can learn from what Matthew writes. He begins by writing: “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” He introduces Jesus straight off the bat as the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior, then links him to the line of David and Abraham. Being of the line of Abraham places him in the nation. Being of the line of David puts him on the throne. Establishing this shows his Jewish readers that Jesus is from the lineage that has been prophesied about so many times. 

Then we see that Matthew arranges his genealogy in three sections of fourteen. One reason for this was undoubtedly as an aid to memorization. Yeah, seriously. People in those days didn’t find genealogies boring; they would actually be able to recite their own genealogies back to Jacob whose sons led the twelve tribes of Israel. 

A second reason for this arrangement is to highlight the importance of David in this genealogy. The numeric value of the Hebrew name David is 14. Numbers play an important role in Scripture, as we will see as we go along.

Now, there are quite a few lessons we can learn from this genealogy. One is the overriding providence of God. He doesn’t play by the rules of man — even ones he may have set! — and you will see how time and time again, it is he who chooses who comes in the line, sidelining those who should have been there. He chooses Abraham to start the line, but then Isaac, not Ishmael is chosen to continue it. Again, it is Jacob, not first-born Esau that continues the line. David, too, was not the oldest in his family.

Another thing we learn is about the grace of God. Five women are included in this genealogy (see if you can spot them all), four of whom were Gentiles. And three of them guilty of sexual immorality. This signifies the gospel is for everybody, male and female, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor. And, of course, most importantly, for the sinner. 

And, finally, we learn that God keeps his promise. Remember way back in Genesis he said that the seed of the woman would crush the head of serpent. Well, here he was: Jesus Christ, redeemer of the world.

So. Not so boring after all, right? 

May the Spirit be with you.

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