I have heard it said that when writing a book you want to catch the reader in the first few lines. Most books have that line that grabs the readers imaginations or else they put it down and may never read it. But Matthew, under the inspiration of God chooses to start his book of the Christ…with a genealogy!
Many Bible readers generally skip over genealogies…you know the seemingly endless list of names, often difficult to pronounce and seemingly unimportant names of people who lived long, long ago…But for Matthew, the Gospel writer, it was vitally important. His sole desire throughout his gospel record was to point to Jesus as the rightful King.
If someone is going to be a king their royalty will depend on their royal lineage. They must be able to prove their right to the throne. This lineage that Matthew begins with…shows the kingly line of Jesus Christ.
As a genealogy…it shows that Jesus Christ is an actual part of human history….no one can question this fact. But it also shows that all of Jewish history from Abraham was preparing for His birth…God in His divine providence ruled and overruled time and time again to accomplish His great purpose…in bringing His Son into the world.
Someone has referred to this section as “The Skeletons in God’s Closet” Because it ain’t pretty! From Matthew’s listing…we see God’s beautiful hand of grace! Jesus was sent by a God of grace to be a King of grace! He was not going to be a rock star king! Nor a king of the law nor a king of iron force…but instead a King of Grace! His royal credentials speak of royal grace! And the people He chose to be His ancestral line…reveal the wonder of His grace!..Let me tell you today…this gives me hope…in fact it gives hope to every sinner!
GOD in His Grace PROVIDED A KING…through a line…I WOULD NOT HAVE CHOSEN…
I must confess through my idealistic eyes…I would not have chosen many on this list. But God did! Just for a moment follow along in Matthew 1:1-17 and pick out some of the well known names. These people were known for unfaithfulness, immorality, idolatry and apostasy (walking away from God)…and yet God deals with them by grace.
Abraham…was a liar…and Isaac learned real well from his daddy and was a liar too…and the apple did not fall far from the tree because Jacob…was a schemer and a cheat and a swindler. Judah…While Joseph was resisting temptation and living a blessed and holy life in Egypt, Judah was hanging out with his daughter-in-law Tamar, who was disguised as a prostitute and he had relations with her and got her pregnant. So their son Perez was illegitimate…born out of immorality. Goodness gracious…look al three are included as part of Jesus’ ancestors! Wow! Do you see where we’re going here?
Now, they weren’t all bad guys. Boaz was a very honourable man even though he married a Moabite woman who the Jewish Law forbid him to marry. Some of the kings were pretty good…David was a man after God’s own heart, but if truth be told…he was a murderer and he did commit adultery with Bathsheba who is also noted here in Jesus’ lineage.
And we may say with our self righteous judgement…it’s just not the lineage that I would have chosen. I would have chosen…you know pretty people. The best and the brightest. People who look good on a royal resume. Kind of like when Israel chose Saul to be the first king of Israel. They chose him because he looked like a king! He was handsome and stood head and shoulders above the rest. All in all he looked like a king. But make note… Israel chose him to be king…God didn’t. God instead chose David. A little ruddy shepherd boy that wasn’t even worth bringing in from the field to see the prophet. But doesn’t that show God’s goodness and mercy?
Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t just choose the best and the brightest?
He chooses to work through the weak, imperfect things of this world that we might see His grace/strength. God’s glory shines through this motley group of people…that’s the way that God works. People who were in no way qualified to be in the human lineage of the Son of God…
LESSON #1 God’s Choice is Not My Choice…
God’s ways are higher…than my ways…(Isaiah 55:8-9) you and I may look at the exterior…and maybe we are quick to make a judgement…but God is the One who looks at the heart…God is the One who looks at the heart He is the Potter who makes His vessel the instrument of His grace!
LESSON #2…GOD in His Grace…Chooses to Work Through Imperfect People…
Jacob is a great example. Known for his deceitful scheming, yet it is through Jacob that God would lead and sovereignly rule and overrule in his life to bring him to the point of submitting to God.
Just look at all the imperfect examples of faith full believers in Hebrews 11…
LESSON #3…GOD in His Grace…Chooses to Use the Weak Things of the World…
All of these men listed were sinful and often known for some kind of weakness or unfaithfulness But God was continually faithful to them…and His grace was always with them, even when they were in trouble or even in times when God was rebuking them. (See: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
LESSON #4…God in His Grace…Chooses to Use the Outcast…
Tamar…(v.3) In Genesis 38 Tamar, the recently widowed daughter in law of Judah, acted as a prostitute and tricked her father-in-law Judah into making her pregnant so that she could continue the line of her husband. Despite her prostitution and the incest…God’s grace fell on her and her son to be born as well as Judah.
Rahab…(v.5) In Joshua 2 also was a prostitute and a Gentile, a foreigner, living in Jericho. But she, in faith courageously rescued the 2 Hebrew spies. Not sure how she came to faith but somehow she knew about God and His people. By faith she knew she had better intervene on behalf of her family. She would marry Salmon and become the mother of Boaz, who would become king David’s great grandfather.
Ruth…(v.5) – She too was another foreigner, a Moabite and was under the Old Testament curse against Moabites found in Deuteronomy 23:3 “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever”. She was a descendent of the incestuous Lot. But we love Ruth. Her story of faith and commitment God has resounded for generations!
Bathsheba…(v.6) was the woman involved in David’s scandalous affair and cover-up. She would become the mother of the next king, Solomon.
So as you can see in this list you have some great people…but you have people with a scandalous past. You have men, women, adulterers, prostitutes, heroes, and Gentiles. And Jesus is the Saviour of them all. “Right from the start, Matthew is telling us that Jesus is immersed in the grit and the grime of fallen humanity…” To the world Jesus’ way seems foolish…but to those who are being saved it is the power of God! (1 Corinthians 1)
So what? God in His grace…took a lineage of broken, sinful, imperfect people and outcasts and used them for His purposes and His glory. He can do the same thing with us today. He can take worthless broken vessels like you and me and cleanse us with His blood and fill us with His presence and use us for His purposes and for His glory. No matter who you are, people like you are already part of Jesus’ story. Right from the start, God chooses the most sinful, broken, and unlikely people – people like you and me. (See Matthew 9:13) Tell me Matthew didn’t have this foremost in his heart as he walked with his Master and listened to Him speak and reach the last of people!
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSE…1. AWE-Some wonder…this is our Jesus! The King of Grace! It makes me want to sing of His grace…His love and mercy!
2. KNOW that God includes you and me…the fact that God uses these imperfect, weak people reminds you and I that God will take us and use us for His own purposes. Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners who did not come to call the righteous but sinners…to call the Zaccheus’ the Simon Peter’s, James’ and John. Reflected in His choice of disciples! JESUS CHRIST IS THE KING OF GRACE!