Last night I spoke from Matthew 1:1-17 — a passage well worth preaching. The first thing to ask is: Why does the most exciting book in history — the New Testament — open with a genealogy? I’d never think of beginning one of my books with a long list of hard-to-pronounce names. My publishers wouldn’t allow it. Why, then, would a book as vital as the New Testament begin with something as “dull” as a genealogy?
I’ll give you ten reasons:
- To show us that Jesus Himself cuts through the Old Testament like a Grand Canyon. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Covenants, the Old Testament Heroes, and the Old Testament prophecies. The story of the Old Testament is not a general history of ancient Israel but a particular history of one family line within Israel—the family from which the Messiah descended. All of Jewish history prepared the way for His birth.
- God takes the long view. This genealogy covers 2000 years. God was patiently preparing the way for Christ to come again. We always need to be long-viewed where God is concerned.
- The Messiah is universal. He is the Savior for both men and women. Five women are included in His family tree, which is highly unusual in ancient genealogical records. He’s also the Savior of both Jews and Gentiles, for several non-Jewish names are in this account.
- God’s Grace is spelled JESUS. Notice the five women mentioned: Tamar seduced her father-in-law through prostitution; Rahab was a prostitute; Ruth was a Moabite, Uriah’s wife was an adulterer. Only Mary had a respectable record. Among the men on the list are some of the most wicked and defiled characters in the Old Testament. As one commentator said, “The lineage is comprised of men, women, adulterers, prostitutes, heroes, and Gentiles—and Jesus will be Savior of all.”
- Jesus Christ is supernatural. His genealogy begins and ends with a supernatural birth. At the beginning of the line was Abraham whose son was a miracle baby; and at the end of the line was Jesus who was born of the virgin Mary.
- Jesus is God-Man. Matthew 1 divides into two parts. The first part (v. 1-17) stresses His human descent. The last part (v. 18-24) stresses His divine conception.
- We’re all part of a chain reaction of blessings. Just as every name on the list brought Jesus Christ to the world, each of us is part of the chain of bringing the news of Christ to the world.
- There are no “nobodies” in God’s lineup. In verse 3, we have two names — Hezron and Ram – of whom we know nothing. But there were not nothings; they were forbearers of the Messiah. We may not achieve any fame or fortune in the world, but God can mightily use us.
- God’s Plan is Perfect. Matthew summarizes the genealogy of Christ into three groups of fourteen, dividing Jewish history into three broad phrases. Fourteen is seven times two, and seven is the number of God’s completed work. Three is the number of God Himself. In Jesus Christ God was fulfilling His perfect plan for human history.
- History has hope because God is in control and Jesus in coming.