Matthew 1:1-17 (ESV)
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
Just a quick couple of notes here before we look at the passage. Usually, when a passage is this long I will simply include it as a link for you to access through the ESV website. But today, I wanted to include the passage so that you can see how it breaks down as each paragraph notes a different time in the history of the people of God.
Also, if you’ve been reading these devotionals with me over the last couple of years, you know that one of the things that I like to do is to read a Gospel in the fall. I find something stirs in me as I read about Jesus’ death and resurrection as we approach Christmas.
It’s going to be an incredible walk through Matthew this fall, one that we won’t be able to complete before Christmas, but well worth the journey, and I invite you to join me along the way.
As I was reading this passage, I was thinking about how people are interested in discovering their ancestry. There are a couple of popular companies who, for a small fee, will process your DNA and tell you your cultural heritage. The selling point for these companies is to help people get a sense of where they came from and who they are. As someone who is adopted, I’ve utilized these companies and I was astonished by the results. One of the great surprises was that I discovered that I share a middle eastern heritage through my biological father. I also discovered a large batch of living relatives, including six half brothers and sisters, and it’s been wonderful getting to know them.
As the Gospel of Matthew begins, we get a great statement about the history and identity of Jesus. It was a big deal to be able to trace one’s history back to Abraham, but an even bigger deal to be able to trace one’s history through the kingly line of David because it demonstrates that Jesus is part of the true royal family.
In addition to that, it’s important to notice that Jesus' history is broken up into three groups of fourteen. We could also say that His history is broken up into six groups of seven names. Seven was a symbolic number representing perfection and as we look through the line of Jesus’ history, it becomes clear that Jesus' history has a purpose; the purpose is to show Jesus as the goal of the whole list. In fact, if we look at the list in groups of sevens, we see that Jesus is the seventh of seven, the climax of the list.
That’s all very cool stuff but there is something that I think is even more amazing in this list; the surprising ways God works through the people in the list.
Judah wasn’t the firstborn son of Jacob, he was the fourth. Normally the firstborn was held in the highest regard, and so to give Judah that place of honor is very interesting. Not only that, the birth of Perez through Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar is a colorful account (Genesis 38).
Boaz is also interesting in that his heritage isn’t purely Jewish. Boaz was the son of Jericho prostitute Rahab. And don’t forget that Ruth, the wife of Boaz, is not Jewish either, yet King David is a direct descendent of Boaz and Ruth.
All of these strange and bizarre notes in the history of Jesus point to something that I don’t want you to miss; if God worked in those situations, as unusual as they were, He is at work in yours as well.
One of the incredible things that I’m reminded of in this history of the line of Jesus is that God keeps His promises.
If you entrust your life to Jesus, remember that God is always at work in your life for your good. We may not always see it, we may not always understand how that good is unfolding, but know that God is at work, keeping His promises, for you, for me, and for all who entrust their lives to Jesus.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
God bless you, and know that you are constantly in my prayers.