The New Testament begins in Matthew 1 with what’s called ” the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.” Have you ever wondered why?
Matthew’s gospel doesn’t begin with the Nativity itself… The star, the shepherds in the manger. Instead, It begins with a long list of ancestry. And let’s be honest – how many times have we skipped through this?
In his book, Hidden Christmas, Pastor Timothy Keller gives us perspective on why Matthew started the story of Jesus this way. He reminds us that Christmas is not just about a birth, it is about a coming.
The birth of the Son of God into the world is a gospel, a good news, an announcements that says, you don’t have to save yourself – God has come to save you. Of course, Christmas is just the beginning of the story of how God came to save us. Jesus will have to go to the Cross. But you begin with Christ by reading this report about what has happened in history. Matthew tells here that this story is no fairy tale – Jesus is real!
Matthew doesn’t start his book with “Once Upon a Time.” That is the way fairy tales or legendary fantasy stories begin. Matthew is grounding who Jesus Christ is and what he does in history with the genealogy. Keller reminds us in Matthew 1, we learn that Jesus is not a metaphor – he is real. This all happened!
In this genealogy at the beginning of the New Testament, what else is Matthew saying? Pastor Keller writes that the list of Jesus’ genealogy is also a type of resume. In those times, your family, pedigree, and clan made up your resume. Therefore, this list is really saying, “This is who Jesus is.”
Matthew’s genealogy is shockingly different from the other ones of his time. First, there are five women in the list. Three of them. Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth are Gentiles. The Jews would have considered them unclean. In fact, Tamar was a prostitute. He also refers to “Uriah’s wife,” who you may know as Bathsheba. These names recall some of the most difficult stories is in the Old Testament. Yet, they are in Jesus’s genealogy. Why?
But wait, in verse 6 we have the name King David. So, we might think “now there is somebody we want in out genealogy!” David, after all, was the boy who killed Goliath, favored by Saul, anointed as king, and the man who conquers Jerusalem. David also was a flawed man, who arranged the killing of his friend Uriah and whose son Solomon was the result of an affair with Bathsheba. Yet out of that deeply flawed man, the Messiah came. These people are all acknowledged in Matthew 1 as the ancestors of Jesus.
So what does that mean? Tim Keller asks us to think about it this way :
It means that people who are excluded by culture, society and even by the laws God can be brought into Jesus’s family. If you repent and believe in him, the grace of Jesus covers your sin and unites you with him.
Moreover, with King David, it means even the powerful and great are still in need of the grace of Christ. It is not what you have done; it is what Christ has done for you!
God is not ashamed of us. We are all in his family.
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-Hannah and Todd