Matt 1:1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham
We all have history; it’s what makes us what we are. If we’re seventy years old we’ve got seventy years of history plus the family life that went before that made our parents what they were. In the past decade or so, finding out your genealogy has become a big thing for many people. History has become, not merely what we learnt in ‘History’ at school or college, but it’s the flow of what went in the life of my family – my parents, my grand parents, my great grand parents and so on.
Matthew, when he starts writing his Gospel, has a real sense about Jesus: he is linked to history. John records Jesus as saying he had come from his Father in heaven (Jn 6:32 -58 – read it and see how many times Jesus said it!), but Matthew wanted to touch base with his fellow Jews, and Jews were very conscious that they had history. Matthew is seriously into working out genealogies and he’s worked out that if Jesus was Joseph’s son, then you could trace him right back to Abraham, so the sixteen verses following this one do just that (possibly they don’t include every single father going back, but simply show the line with key figures). This first verse is a summary verse. Jesus, he says, is part of the royal family of King David, and of course he went back to Abraham, who the Jews considered to be the father of their race. That’s how Matthew sees it.
But how did God see it? Why did God inspire Matthew to dig out this genealogy? What was God wanting to say to us through it? Well, a variety of things, but as far as this first opening verse is concerned, God is saying that His Son is not ashamed to be identified with this people.
Now that is amazing really, because when you carefully read the Old Testament, the thing that stands out most about this people, is the way they kept on getting it wrong! The Old Testament is almost like looking through a microscope. When you do that you focus on one tiny thing and see it in detail. The whole human race is too big to observe so God gives us the nation of Israel to look at. What’s more they have had the benefit of God’s blessing and God’s help, and still they get it wrong. Oh no, if we had any high ideas about the human race, looking at this special nation would have shattered that illusion.
Now here’s the wonderful thing: this nation epitomizes the sinfulness and folly of human nature, but Jesus is not ashamed of identifying himself with them. There is a sense that because he was born into this nation at that particular point of history that, humanly speaking at least, he is very closely associated with them, but that’s not the key issue here.
When you get to know people from all walks of life, you increasingly see people who do not feel they are good enough for God. God wouldn’t want to know me because I’m not religious, I’m not good. Exactly! That is the point of this verse. We see it later in Jesus’ ministry again and again, Jesus coming across a group of people who, the religious people describe as ‘sinners’, and he settles down with them, loves them and accepts them as they are, and shares his Father’s love with them. That’s what this verse is all about! It’s saying Jesus came and associated himself completely with the human race. God in human form, yes, but this verse is like Jesus saying, ‘Hey, I’m with you guys. I’m part of your family. Abraham was a man of faith, but he often blew it! David was a man after God’s own heart, but he often blew it. This is my family. I’m not ashamed of them. I’ve come to be part of this family and love you. That’s what this is all about!