The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.Matthew 1:1
As we enter the advent season, it is reasonable to investigate what the gospel writers have to say about the events surrounding the incarnation and birth of the most important person to have ever walked the earth. Matthew, as a Jewish disciple of Jesus and known outcast as a tax collector, provides us with some keen insights into the purpose of his gospel and the nature of the who Jesus was.
The word that is rendered as “genealogy” in the first verse is the Greek word “genesis”, meaning simply “the beginning.” Just as Moses began the Pentateuch with the story of human origins, Matthew’s gospel begins with telling us the origins of a new human – a Messiah who was promised, A King who would deliver, and a Covenant He would fulfill.
The Messiah Who Was Promised
As far back as Genesis 3:15, God had promised to deliver mankind through a Messiah that would crush the head of the serpent that brought deception and death to humanity through a sacrificial offering of Himself. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring, he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal.” This the first promise of salvation for humanity that found its fulfillment in a descendent of the woman – Jesus. The gospel of Luke meticulously traces the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Adam and Eve, illustrating the fulfillment of this prophecy recorded by Moses in the beginning. It is a prophecy that finds its final fulfillment on the cross of Calvary.
The King Who Would Deliver
As Matthew was a known tax collector, it is reasonable to extrapolate that he had an intimate knowledge of law and quite possibly the implications of inheritance law. As a result, he leveraged this knowledge as he traced Jesus’ lineage through his earthly, foster father Joseph as a descendent of King David, of the tribe of Judah. This establishes Jesus’ legal right to the throne of Israel, in spite of the occupation of the Roman Empire of the day. Again, a Kingdom prophecy spoken by Jacob over his sons finds its fulfillment here:
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.” (Genesis 49:10, 11)
The Covenant That Is Fulfilled
Matthew further traces back to his own Jewish roots to illustrate fulfillment of a covenant promise of the Messiah as the son of Abraham, the ultimate patriarch of the Jewish people. By invoking the Abrahamic covenant, Matthew reminds his readers that not only was Abraham a sojourner in a foreign land, Israel was effectively the same under Roman rule. Yet God promised a new covenant to Abraham in that He would bless him and through his descendants all people would be blessed:
“And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his[a] enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:16-18)
It is through this Son Jesus that God has made it possible for all the nations of the earth to be blessed, not just the nation of Israel. As a result, any who places their faith in Him as the Messiah is adopted into the Abrahamic family covenant of blessing as promised by the Lord Himself. Because Abraham did not withold his only Son from the Lord, God Himself chose to not withhold His only Son, Jesus from the sacrifice of Calvary that paid the price for sins of the world.
Grace to you this Christmas advent season, my friend. Cling to the promised Messiah. Bow to the delivering King. Remember His covenant just as He remembered it 2000 years ago and continues its fulfillment to this day.