The Beginning of Jesus the Messiah

nativity_13156ac
Matthew 1:1, 17
1 An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
What difference does the genealogy of Jesus make?  Matthew obviously thinks it important since he begins with it.  The Gospel of Matthew actually begins with the words, Biblos genesis Iesou Christou, The Book of the Genesis (the beginning) of Jesus the Messiah, and then goes on to mention two key figures in Jesus’ genealogy, “the son of David, the son of Abraham.”  The genealogy of Jesus is one of those passages we are tempted to pass over.  I know I do, whenever I see the “begat…begat…begat…”, my eyes begin to glaze over and I’m tempted to skip it.
In fact, Matthew has a purpose in starting with the genealogy of Jesus.  He wants to show his audience, probably primarily Jewish Christians, that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, and that as was prophesied in the Prophets, Jesus is descended from David and Abraham.
In first century Jewish society, genealogies were very important.  In most of the cultures of the Ancient Near East (ANE), people didn’t want to know who you were, they wanted to know who was your father.  So your ancestry, your heritage was very important.  David DeSilva wrote a book entitled Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity:  Unlocking New Testament Culture.  The culture of the ANE, marriage and family were extremely important as demonstrated by the Laws regarding protection of the marriage relationship (against divorce and adultery, for examply).  Clan and kinship were the primary ties rather than to ethnicity or nationality.  People thought of themselves first as members of a particular family and clan.  This is still true in places were tribalism is still the main form of identity, as the United States military has discovered to our detriment in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The question that they wanted to answer as Christian Jews was, who do we belong to?  What is our kinship in this New Kingdom of God?  And how does it relate to our former kinship with Abraham?
As Christians today, our understanding of who we are in Christ is affected by this genealogy.  We are grafted into this tree – Israel, from which the Messiah sprang.  We are the family of God.  Some Christians do not see continuity between the OT and the NT.  But Matthew takes great pains to point out the continuity between the 2 testaments, between the old covenant and the new.   This is one reason why the NT begins with the Gospel according to Matthew.  Matthew bridges the gap between the OT and the NT.  The story that began in Genesis, “in the beginning God…” is the same story that begins with Jesus, “The book of the beginning of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”  (Matt. 1:1)
Lord, the story that begins in Genesis continues through every verse of the OT, continues through the ministry of Jesus Christ, and now through the Holy Spirit working through the church and in the world.  We often think of this story as our story, the story of salvation.  But in reality, You are the focus of the story, the greatest story ever told.  The Bible is one story, the story of God, how You have revealed Yourself to particular people at particular times in history, and the greatest revelation of God is Jesus Christ.  Thank you for this love too marvelous to know!  That we should gain an interest in Your amazing love!  Amen.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: