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Advent 2013 #4 What About that BIG list of names?

21/12/2013

What About that BIG list of names?

Text  Matthew 1:1  (OT Reading Psalm 8)
A genealogy like this was very important to the Jews of Jesus’ day.  Without it, a Jew could never serve as a priest, and every Jewish man aspired to have his pedigree held in the official records.  These were kept by the Sanhedrin, and meticulously cared for.    Matthew wanted to get his message over to Jews so he writes as a Jewish evangelist would write.  He uses the genealogy to show that Jesus is the Son of David, that he is the King of the Jews.   Matthew 15:22    Matthew 21:9    Matthew 21:   So now we know why it is there, but what do WE learn from it?

1. It Tells Us Something About US.  (About mankind)
It tells us why we were created, what has happened to us since, and what can happen to us.  Now notice that this list of names falls into three groups of 14 people.  Matthew 1:17    Each of these groups are representative of different eras in the history of the Jewish people.

A)    From Abraham to David.  Now these were the days of glory and expansion in Israel.   David took a ragged collection of dispirit tribesmen and made them a nation under God.
B)    From Solomon to Exile.  Days of disappointment and decline and surrender to external pressures
C)    From Babylon to Christ.  Days of restoration, when the Jewish people were permitted to return to their land, Jerusalem was rebuilt, the temple restored, worship re-established and the culmination of that was when Christ was born, the One who would bring true liberation to His people and save them from wrath and destruction.

Now, in this deliberate arrangement of names and the implicit events that accompany them, we see a reflection of our own experience, for we were created for God’s Glory   Ps 8:4-9  Yet SIN has destroyed the ideal. But there can be restoration.  In Christ, the ideal can be restored.  He can rescue us, he can save us and bring us back into fellowship with God, in HIM we can be what God created us to be.
Now isn’t that a good illustration of the importance of this genealogy?  We can’t neglect it, for it accurately reflects our human condition, our original purpose, present sinfulness, and possible redemption in Christ.  Yet there is more…

2. It Tells Us Something About Jesus.
Well, it tells us quite a lot about Jesus, for the whole idea of the genealogy as we have learned, is to capture the attention of Jewish people and to introduce Christ to them, but in particular, I’m thinking about what it tells us about:-
a)    How Jesus Fulfils Our Hopes!  Because Jesus is described here as the Son of David, the original readers would have immediately had their memories jogged about their great national hope.  JESUS IS THE ANSWER TO THAT HOPE!  He was the fulfilment of all their hopes, he was their Messiah.

a.    He fulfilled God’s promises to Abraham!
b.    He fulfilled God’s promises to David!  Let’s just see how the early church proclaimed this fact:  Peter Acts 2:29    Cf Acts 2:36    Paul  Romans 1:3,  2 Tim. 2:8     John  Rev. 22:16

But ultimately it was the Jewish people themselves who recognised in Jesus that He was Great David’s Greater Son.   Matthew 12:23 Matthew 15:22  Matthew 21:15  The people wanted and longed for, a SON OF DAVID.  Jesus fulfilled that hope!
b)    How Jesus Fulfils OT Prophecy.  All of the history of the Old Testament leads up to Jesus.  He is the climax of God’s redemptive plan.    Because of Jesus we can be sure that History is meaningful and is going somewhere purposeful.
So, for us, the genealogy reinforces our understanding that in Jesus, all our hopes are realised, and we learn again that God is working history out in His way and in His sovereignty, and we can trust him.  Lastly,

3. It Tells Us What Jesus Did for Us.
Notice the number of women included in this genealogy.  Jews had a very low regard for women indeed, so, the names of women were not usually included in a Jewish genealogy.  But they are in this one!  And look at the women who are included…
Rahab, a prostitute.  Joshua 2:1-7 And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there  Ruth, a foreigner and an alien. Ruth 1:4   Tamar, a seductress and adulteress.   Bathsheba who committed adultery with David and married him after he had arranged to have her husband murdered under dreadful circumstances. And all of these are juxtaposed with Mary, the gentle, loving virgin mother of Christ.  Yet in this list of woman there are important and relevant lessons for us:-

a)    Jesus breaks down the barriers between Jew and Gentile.  Gentile woman are among those listed in the pedigree of Christ.
b)    Jesus breaks down the barriers between men and women.  The old corrupt status is gone and we are all equal in status before Christ.  We are all sinners and we all need salvation.  So Paul could later write, Galatians 3:28
c)    Jesus breaks down the barriers between God and sinners.  This is because God in Christ reached down to sinners, included them in his kingdom.  Matthew 9:13 : for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

So, Matthew’s genealogy teaches us three important lessons:-
1.    About mankind, who was created to be in God’s presence and who fell into sin and disgrace, but for whom there is hope in Christ.
2.    About Jesus, who fulfils all our hopes and aspirations and in whom all of history finds purpose.
3.    About what Jesus did for us at Calvary, when he broke down barriers, – including the most significant barrier of all, the barrier between God and man.
Bob McEvoy

From → Sabbath Mornings

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