The Genealogy Of Christ

Matthew 1:1-17




The New Testament begins with the history of the earthly life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is given four times, by four different men (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), from four points of view. Yet, in these four narratives there is one complete story, without a single contradiction. Four distinct gospel narratives tell the blessed story of Christ's doing and dying as the sinners' Substitute. Four times we read of his precious words, works, and worth as our God-man Mediator. How thankful we ought to be for the four gospels! Each one compliments and reenforces the others. "To know Christ is life eternal. To believe Christ is to have peace with God. To follow Christ is to be a true Christian. To be with Christ is heaven itself. We can never hear too much about the Lord Jesus Christ" (J.C. Ryle). Frequently, when reading the genealogical records of Scripture, there is a tendency to neglect them because many fail to see any meaning or value in them. That should never be the case. Clearly, there are five lessons to be learned from these seventeen verses.


     THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GENEALOGY ITSELF  - Matthew was directed by the Holy Spirit to begin his Gospel with a long list of names. Sixteen verses are taken up with tracing out the family tree of the Lord Jesus Christ as a man, from Abraham to David, from David to Jechonias, and from Jechonias to Joseph. The seventeenth verse divides the genealogy into three groups of fourteen generations. Do not foolishly imagine that these verses are useless. Nothing in God's creation is useless; and nothing in God's Word is useless. These lines were not written by a man alone, but by a man who wrote as he was inspired by God the Holy Spirit. They are to be read with serious thought. We have before us a very important document, a record of monumental significance.


     This genealogical record is important because it is an irrefutable proof that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Christ of God, the Son of David, the promised Seed of Abraham. The Jews, from the very beginning of their history, kept precise genealogical records. The Scribes and Pharisees studied those records with great care. They constantly raised questions about "endless genealogies" (I Tim. 1:4). If they could have disproved his genealogy, that alone would have been sufficient ground for their rejection of Jesus as the Christ; but they could not do it. Though the Jews argued about many things and constantly accused the Lord Jesus of horribly evil deeds, they never once brought up his ancestry. In fact, to this day, though religious heretics abound who try to undermine our faith in Christ, I know of none who have ever attempted to discredit his genealogy. The reason should be obvious to anyone. It is flawless! Though Luke's record of the genealogy gives additional details and omits others, there is not a single point of disagreement between the two.


     GOD'S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS WORD - In this long list of names we are made to see that God is faithful to his Word. He always keeps his Word. He promised long ago that all the nations of the earth would be blessed in the Seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:3); and Jesus Christ is Abraham's Seed in whom all nations are blessed (v. 1; Gal. 3:13-16). God promised that he would raise up One out of the family of David to be the Savior of his people (Isa. 11:1); and Jesus Christ is David's great Son and his Lord (v. 1; Acts 2:25-36). These seventeen verses are a demonstration of the fact that God always keeps his Word. Let every thoughtless scoffer remember this and tremble! Though men imagine that because God does not immediately punish sin he will never punish sin, it is not so. The righteous Lord, because he loves righteousness, will destroy the wicked with his everlasting wrath (Psa. 7:11; 11:5-7). Let every believer remember this and be comforted! Our heavenly Father will be true to all his promises. "He is not a man, that he should lie" (Num. 23:19). "He abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself" (II Tim. 2:13). "God, who cannot lie" (Tit. 1:2), has made some promises to his people; and all his promises in Christ Jesus are yea and amen (II Cor. 1:20). He has promised saving grace to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31), sufficient grace to his tried saints (II Cor. 12:9), sustaining grace to those who are tempted (I Cor. 10:13), strengthening grace to those who are weak (Isa. 41:10), restoring grace to those who are fallen (Psa. 37:24; Pro. 24:16), dying grace at the time appointed (Ex. 15:16; Heb. 2:15), and crowning grace to all who enter into heaven's glory (II Tim. 1:12; James 1:12). And what he has promised he will perform.


     THE SINFULNESS AND CORRUPTION OF MAN - Our Savior's genealogy is one of many almost incidental revelations of the universal depravity of our race. It is humbling, but instructive for us to observe how many in this list of names were godly parents who had wicked and ungodly sons. Roboam, Joram, Amon, and Jechonias were all terribly wicked men, though they had believing, godly fathers. Two lessons are obvious.


     1. Grace does not run in blood lines (John 1:13). Salvation is not inherited. There are some families in which several are the objects of grace, many families in which none are the objects of grace, and very few families in which all are the objects of grace. But in all cases salvation comes to chosen sinners according to God's sovereign prerogative (Rom. 9:11-24).


     2. Fathers are responsible to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; but they are not responsible for the salvation of their children or even for their behavior beyond childhood. David was a good father. He loved his children and trained them in the fear of God. However, for the most part, his children did not heed his instruction. David was not required for that reason to relinquish his calling either as the king of Israel or as the prophet of God.


     The simple fact is it takes more than a good example, good instruction, and faithful training to save our sons and daughters. It takes the grace of God (Eph. 2:8-9). It takes the Father's sovereign election (II Thess. 2:13), the Son's blood atonement (Heb. 9:22), and the Holy Spirit's effectual call (Psa. 65:4).


     THE GREAT MERCY, GRACE, COMPASSION, AND CONDESCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST - This is the genealogy of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the people from whom our Lord descended according to the flesh. Wonder of wonders, the eternal Son of God, the infinite, the almighty, the incomprehensible God assumed our nature! God took humanity into union with himself and identified himself with the people he came to save - sinners! Some of the names in this genealogy remind us of some of the saddest, most shameful events in history. Some of those here named are mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. But the last name in the list is the name of our Savior, Christ. So that he might save fallen men, the Son of God became a man (Phil. 2:6-8; II Cor. 8:9). "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!"


     It is worthy of observation that in the genealogy of Christ four of the five women mentioned were women with a reputation or a blemish that most would like to hide from their family tree. Our Savior chose to be numbered with transgressors even in his genealogy. Tamar was guilty of incest. Rahab was a harlot. Ruth was a Moabitess, a child of a cursed race. And Bathsheba was the adulteress wife of Uriah. Truly, he of whom this genealogy speaks is the Friend of sinners! He came into the world to save sinners!


     THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD'S SAVING GRACE - No one can read this genealogical record and fail to see God's sovereignty, unless he just does not want to see it. Most families and nations were passed over; but Abraham was chosen. Isaac was chosen, but not Abraham's other son, Ishmael. Jacob was chosen, but not Esau. Among all the families of Israel, the house of Jesse was chosen. From among all Jesse's sons, David was chosen. Even Manasses is named in the line of those who were chosen of God and called. Therefore it must be concluded that no human being is beyond the reach of Christ's saving arm or sympathetic heart. Our sins may have been as many and as vile as any who are here named, but they shall never be remembered against us by God if we trust him who is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Don Fortner