The Book of Matthew starts with a list of names. At first glance, this doesn't seem like the most exciting way to introduce the Saviour until you realise the question that it is answering. Today, Pastor Ray Galea helps us to understand both the question and the answer.
There is a growing interest in finding out about where we come from, going back through records. I think we want to find out who we are by finding out where we come from. I was given a birthday gift to do my DNA Ancestry.
No wonder I’m confused. Who am I? Who are you? But if you want to know who you are then you need to find out who is Jesus? To find out who Jesus is you need to see where he comes from.
The genealogy in Matthew begins to tell us who Jesus is and where he came from. Let's be honest, it's not the most interesting way to start the gospel and begin the New Testament. The list of names puts Jesus in context. The whole of the Old Testament is compressed into 17 verses. What is the purpose of a genealogy? It answers the question people were asking.
In the words of John the Baptist, "Are you Jesus the one or should we wait for another." The waiting is over.
1. The origins of Jesus
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: ~Matthew 1:1 (NIV)
It is literally the genesis/origin of Jesus Christ. Although Jesus goes back into eternity, according to the flesh, Jesus goes back to Abraham, the father of God's people. Jesus doesn't just burst on the scene unannounced, claiming to be Lord Christ, and Lord without credentials. Of all the people on the list, Jesus is seen as the Son of Abraham and Son of David. Jesus is the YES to the promise to Abraham who lived 2000 years before Jesus
The LORD had said to Abram, ... all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” ~Genesis 12.1,3 (NIV)
Jesus is now the agent of world blessing. Jesus is the YES to the promise to David who lived 1000 years before Jesus
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you,...and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. ~2 Samuel 7:12,13 (NIV)
Jesus locks into both co-ordinates, son of Abraham and son of David. God had been planning Jesus' arrival for a long time.
Blaise Pascal who I think said:
"The climax of all that was foretold was to demonstrate that it could not be said it was all due to chance. Anyone with only a week to live is not interested in believing that all this is merely the work of chance"
In the words of Jesus to the Samaritan Women, Salvation from the Jews, God's plan of salvation is not through the Chinese or Maltese or Americans it was only through the one nation, the Jews. Someone who could trace his line through to David and Abraham. It is pointless looking for a saviour anywhere else, don’t waste your time, but it has been a long wait.
Rise and fall and rise again. What we have here in the genealogy is a selected list of names, great and not so great. It is a quick overview of the Old Testament, where the history of Israel is broken into 3 sections. Each section with 14 generations on view.
The first comes from the time of Abraham to King David, a promise to an old man ends up with Gods people living in
God's place under God's King. The second period is the downfall of David's family line, his dynasty. God's people lose their land, their temple, their blessings and their king and sent them into exile. So what happened to God's promise? No saviour to bless the world and no king to rule the world. But the promises to Abraham and David still stand. God is not in a hurry. Life went on after the exile and the promises given to
David and Abraham cried out to be fulfilled.
…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. ~Matthew 1:16 (NIV)
The waiting is over, the roller coaster of Israel finally ends with Jesus. God has kept his word. While the Saviour had to come from the Jews, He is the saviour for the world.
As you scan the names, you notice what? In this Jewish male line you have 4 women, not only four women but non-Jewish women, not just non-Jewish women but women who were victims of sexual abuse or participated in sexual immorality
verse 3 - Tamar, who was abandoned and forced to seduce her father in law, Judah.verse 5 - Rahab, not a Jew and a prostitute
verse 5 - Ruth was a Moabitess, the arch-enemy of Israel
verse 6 - Uriah's wife Bethsheba was the wife of a Hittite, a non-Jew and a victim of abuse caught up in adultery
Jesus is not from thoroughbred stock, He too had a shady past.
The bible does not do pretend, rather than hiding the shameful past, it highlights it. So what is the point? This Jesus has come to invite Jew and Non-Jew, Male and Female, Saints and sinners, they include his own family line
... For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. ~Matthew 9:13 (NIV)
As you read you might think that Mary is part of this suspicious past of Jesus.
2. This was not your normal pregnancy
A teenager who got pregnant outside of marriage.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. ~Matthew 1:18 (NIV)
Before the days of obstetricians and IVF. Joseph a Jewish nobody in the line of King David, discovered that his fiancée Mary is pregnant. It's not impossible to be pregnant without being married. In Australia, 56,000 children came into this world without having mum and dad married. What made this pregnancy different is that it happened without sex, before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph didn't know that of course, he thought Mary had sex with another guy, so he was about to quietly break it off.
Hard for Mary and hard for Joseph.
Righteous Joseph did not want to bring shame to Mary even though Joseph thought Mary brought shame on him. To break a betrothal you needed a divorce. Joseph would have felt so hurt and it would have been so easy to make Mary pay. The righteous thing was to love. Then he gets the astonishing news that Mary was made pregnant by God. The point here is that Joseph is not the natural father of Jesus but the adopted one.
The word ‘father’ is missing to describe Joseph's relationship with Jesus.
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah ~Matthew 1:16 (NIV)
Jesus does not have Joseph's DNA in him. Jesus is part of this family line, but not his bloodline. This birth is different because this man, Jesus, is different. The one who left the womb of Mary would be no less than God himself.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). ~Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV)
The wonder is not that a woman bore a child without sex, the wonder is that God has become a human. That is why this Jesus can require so much when you’re God.
When Joseph names Jesus he is recognizing that Mary's child is his legitimate son. So, what's in a name? I once paid $20 to find out that Galea comes from a noble family. The man who gave us this record said that some people get really upset when they find out what their name means. A lady with a common Irish name wanted to find out what it means and upon the computer came the meaning "One with an ugly head."
The angel who came with the news went on to tell Joseph not only is the child born of the Spirit but a name that will remind everyone then and for generations to come as to why he came.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” ~Matthew 1:21 (NIV)
He is to be named Jesus/Joshua because he will save his people from their sin. The name Jesus tells you he is the Saviour. The title Immanuel: tells us that he is God, Jesus fully God and fully man. Our Saviour needed to be human because
only a human can take the sins of another human, only God can endure the punishment that our sins experienced.
From the moment he entered that womb he was on a one way road that would lead him to his death, a death on a cross.
Jesus is God's great rescue plan
Jesus saves his own ancestors from their sins.
As you look over the names of his ancestors you see they needed saving. The worst was Manasseh who offered his own son in child sacrifices to false gods. King David the pick of the bunch was himself a murderer. The ancestors of Jesus burst the bubble of Jewish pride. God's people needed to be saved from their sins.
How were the Jews saved before the Saviour came to die? One of my favourite kid's talks is a family is lined up at an ice cream van with the father at the end of the line. Each child enjoys the ice cream before the father at the end of the line pays for each ice cream. Faithful Israel enjoyed forgiveness before sin was paid for and Jesus came so that we may be saved from our sins
There are 4 ways to misunderstand Jesus and miss out on his rescue plan
1. If you think there is no sins to be saved from.
Gods got a case against you and can I say a darn good case.
There is only one guy that I’ve ever met who thought he was perfect. He had a dozen cans of beer that were empty. If I was smart enough I should have asked his wife and she could have told me the truth.
2. Most admit that their not perfect but there is a refusal to admit that God will punish sin. God can't expect me to perfect, so I don’t expect he will punish me. But the wages of sin is death. Your upcoming death is the first reminder that God takes sin seriously.
3. You may heard some say "I don't have to wait for hell I have already suffered it." For every Christian, this earth is the worst it will ever get, for every non-Christian this earth is the best it will ever get.
4. If you have a very sensitive conscience you may think that something in your past is unforgivable. You may be here and thinking, could Jesus forgive my abortion, my adultery, or incest, or the way I treated my children or parents. Most names mean nothing but Jesus' name says it all.
And then Jesus says it himself.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest ~Matthew 11:28 (NIV)