The Gospel according to Matthew is written to demonstrate the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the predicted Messiah, the King of the Jews, who was rejected by his own people, who was accepted by the Gentiles, and who someday will return to reign as King of kings and Lord of Lords. It is the story of the King who comes, the King who is rejected, and the King who will return.
Jesus is the king. Most kings rule with an iron fist. Most kings rule by the law. Jesus is not a king who rules with law but he rules with grace. Jesus is the gracious king.
Introduction to Mathew: The Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew the tax collector. At the time when Christ was born, Israel was under Roman domination. And there were many things about the Roman domination that were oppressive to Israel. One aspect of the oppression of Rome was the crushing taxation system. Two particular taxes were taken, one was the poll tax, which our income tax. The other was called the “ground tax” which is property or land tax. Roman law makers would hire tax collectors to do the actual tax gathering. Now tax gatherers were ranked with harlots. They were ranked with highwaymen, robbers, and murderers.
Now one of these tax collectors who worked for some wealthy coalition of Roman law maker was a man by the name of Matthew Levi, Matthew or Levi. And when Jesus spoke to him, he immediately followed, which leads us to believe that he was perhaps very familiar with Jesus. Jesus drew this man into an amazing inner circle of 12 people. Matthew wrote this gospel sometime between 50 and 70 AD, sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem.
The presentation of the King. If a king is to be heralded as a king, then it must start with the proof that he comes from the royal line. Matthew is doing that in Matthew 1:1-17
There was a royal line in Israel, and it came through David. In 2 Samuel 7, God said through the prophet Nathan to David that it would be through the loins of David that the king would come who would ultimately reign in Israel and set up an eternal kingdom. That was never fulfilled in Solomon. And so they waited and waited for one born of the seed of David to fulfill the prophecy. And so if Jesus is to be the king, it must be established that he has the right to reign because he descends from the genealogy of royalty.
Now that is precisely what verses 1 to 17 present. Why do we have all of this? First of all, the Jews were tenacious about their pedigrees. And if anybody was going to be presented to them as a king, it was absolutely essential that he have the pedigree to prove it.
For example, after the conquest of Canaan when they went into the land of Canaan and took the land flowing with milk and honey as God had promised, it was essential to determine what your tribe was and what your heritage was so that you knew where you were to live because the line of all the land was divided into tribes.
Transfer of property required accurate knowledge of the family tree. God wanted to keep tribal land within the tribe, and so there had to be pedigree in order to make some business transactions with land.
In Ezra 2:62 And what it means is that when after the Babylonian captivity, the people started coming back to Israel, at the end of the 70 years, they started flowing back many of them were claiming to be priests and they were claiming to be the tribe of Levi. And so when these people came back they had to be proven on the basis of their genealogy.
Luke 2 talks about Joseph and Mary are going down to be registered according to their own ancestry in their own place, because they were still identifying people in that manner.
You see, those identifications were still in existence at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Jews really were interested in everybody having their pedigree and knowing exactly to whom they belong.
Paul says in Romans 11:1 1 am an Israelite myself, a descendent of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. You see, he was still laying out his pedigree. To the Jewish people it was very important. And this is why you see there are at least 50 genealogies in the Old Testament. Because there were reasons for that. Not only the royal line, the priestly line, but in terms of property transfer, and so forth.
Now all of this has changed today. Jews today don’t know this. They have absolutely no record of their tribal ancestry today. No Jew existent in the world today could ever prove himself to be a son of David. There are some Orthodox Jews who still believe the Messiah is going to come, but the problem is there will never be any lineal way to prove that. What’s goes to say this: Jesus Christ is the last verifiable claimant to David’s throne. If he is not the Messiah, nobody else can ever lay believable claim to it.
Now in this genealogy in Matthew, we have what we call a descending record leading through Joseph to Jesus. It comes right on down from David and Abraham, descending down through Joseph to Jesus.
In the New Testament, Jesus’ genealogy is also recorded in the third chapter of Luke. But the genealogy in Luke is the reverse. It is an ascending genealogy. It starts with Jesus and goes back through Mary. So here you have a genealogy coming down through Joseph and there you have a genealogy going back through Mary. One begins with Jesus, the other ends with Jesus. It just goes both ways and it all comes out the same in the end. It’s as if the Spirit of God says, “Any way you cut it, this is the one.”
Now there are some other distinctions between this one and the Luke genealogy. Matthew is showing the legal descent of Jesus as the King of Israel. Luke is showing the lineal descent. In other words, Matthew shows us the royal line, whereas Luke shows us the blood line. You say, “What’s the difference?” The difference is this. The royal line always was passed through which parent? The father. It always came through the father. But Jesus had no human father. So in order to have the blood line to reign, he had to be a descendant of David through his mother, as well. Do you understand that?
And so the line of Mary is also the line of David. So through Mary comes the line of David and through Joseph comes the line of David. Through Mary he has the blood of David, and through Joseph he has the right to reign that belonged to David, even though Joseph was not his father in terms of actuality he was his legal father.
Now stay with me. We’ll cover it another way. Matthew follows the royal line through David and Solomon, David’s son. Matthew follows it all the way down, he gets to David and then the royal line went through Solomon. But David had other sons, one was Nathan. And Mary’s line came through Nathan. So what you have is one line coming down through David, and then it goes this way through Solomon. Through Nathan you come to Mary and through Solomon you come to Joseph. Both of them of the seed of David. Both of them passing on royal blood.
So lineally blood line he is of David. Legally as heir to the throne he is of David, both by his mother and his father. He is the actual seed of David through Mary. He is the legal heir of David through Joseph.
Now Look at Matthew 1:16 Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Isn’t that interesting? What doesn’t it say? The father of Jesus. Joseph was not the father of Jesus in a human way. He was the husband of Mary. The Bible never calls Joseph the father of Jesus. Matthew 1:16 Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. He was born not of Joseph. He was born of Mary.
And so every way possible Jesus Christ had the right to rule. The father was the one who granted the royal line. The mother was the one who granted the royal blood to Jesus.
Luke 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli. Though Jesus was not the physical son of Joseph, he was considered by everybody to be the son of Joseph.
Now most people thought, at least at the time of his birth, that he was the son of some illicit affair. But they called him the son of Joseph because Joseph was constituted his legal father. There was never any argument because they accepted what amounts to adoption in the legal sense with all the rights and privileges. Luke 4:22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Now Listen to Matthew 1:11-12 11and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 12After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel. Now I want you to know something very interesting. Remember whose line is this in Matthew? Joseph’s. And I want you to notice something. Jeremiah 22:30 This is what the Lord says: “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.
None of Jeconiah’s offspring will ever sit on the throne of David. That was the curse on Jeconiah. Now listen to me. If Jesus had been the real son of Joseph, he never could have sat on the throne of David. Did you get that? He would be under the curse. And yet, he had to be the legal son of Joseph to have the right. So God had to devise a plan by which he would be the legal heir to the throne, but that he would not be in the line of David descending through Jeconiah. And so God did it by the virgin birth, bypassing the actual blood line of Jeconiah and yet carrying the royal right to reign and descending the blood through the side of Mary.
It’s a fantastic thing, isn’t it? How God guarded every single detail. And the virgin birth solved it. So you see, the reason for the genealogy is to present the fact that this is the one who has the right to reign. Listen, it may take me a long time to unscramble the significance of this, but all the Jewish people had to do was read it and they got the message. They knew their Old Testament. They knew the curse on Jeconiah. They knew this line. They knew their pedigrees. And Matthew is establishing that he has the right to be king.
Matthew 1:1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: This is the story of how Jesus Christ came to be. This is the record of his origin, the record of his ancestry. Iēsous Christos is the Greek equivalent of the Old Testament Yeshua which means “Jehovah saves.” Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” And then there’s Christos, which means “the anointed.” And he was anointed as a prophet. He was anointed as a priest and he was also anointed as a king. After so my infallible proofs about his origin and lineage, the Jews never accepted Jesus Christ.
John 8:48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
So Matthew, you see, looks back on all this and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he writes down the book of the beginnings of Jesus Christ so there never needs to be a question about where he came from.
Jesus is the king. Most kings rule with an iron fist. Most kings rule by the law. Jesus is not a king who rules with law but he rules with grace. Jesus is the gracious king.
1. Grace abounding to Mary.
Matthew 1:16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Mary, became the mother of the Messiah. Nobody knew about Mary before this. Mary was like everybody else. Mary was no doubt a deeply devout and religious person, but she was a sinner who needed a savior and the Lord Jesus Christ had to be a savior to her as well as a son to her.
Mark 3:31-34 31Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus minimized the place of Mary. Mary was a face in the crowd.
Luke 11:27-28 27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” 28He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” It was nothing sanctimonious about Mary. The issue was obedience to his Word and Mary needed that as much as anybody else.
Luke 1:28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. You know what that is in the Greek? “You who are induced with grace.” Mary needed grace. Unmerited grace, given to sinners.
Mary prayed in Luke 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord. Hey, Mary was a wonderful lady. She was probably very devout, a pure lady, virgin. But she was a sinner who needed a savior. Hey, do you see God’s grace in that he chose a sinner to be his own mother?
2. Grace abounding to David and Abraham.
Matthew 1:1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: David was a sinner, Abraham was a sinner and God acted in grace toward them.
Imagine David, David who sinned so vilely with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered. David, the polygamist. David, who was sexually tormented. David, a bad father. David, who slaughtered multitudes of humanity, so many that his hands were too bloody to build the temple of God.
Imagine Abraham who lied about his wife in Egypt and brought them both into shame. Abraham who disbelieved God. Abraham who committed adultery with Hagar. Abraham, again at Gerar, lied about Sarah and gave her to the king as if she was his sister.
Here are two sinners and their seed was the Son of God. That’s grace. God used these two, one to father the nation of the Messiah, the other to father the royal line. Jesus is son of David, son of Abraham. His connection with the Hebrew people is racial and royal and it’s royal first and that’s why David comes first. That’s the point that Matthew wants to make. And by the way, grace was extended to every, to each of those men, even in their seed.
You may say David shaped up well and so did Abraham. Well, all right, but what about their children, Solomon and Isaac? The son of David, to whom David looked for the fulfillment of prophesy turned out to be a terrible, terrible tragedy. His story is a disastrous failure. In spite of his peaceful nature, in spite of his unmatched wisdom, Solomon lived a life of appalling folly. He sowed seeds of disruption by marrying foreign wives. He went way beyond his father in having hundreds of wives and concubines who turned his heart from the Lord.
Solomon shattered the unity of Israel. And God would have had every right to cancel his promise right then, but he didn’t. But some day there came a greater son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ who overcame the failures of David and overcame the failures of Solomon and with infinite wisdom he will build a temple that will never be destroyed.
Then there was the son of Abraham. The son to whom Abraham looked for the fulfillment of the amazing promise of God, the son who was born when Abraham was 100 years old. The son in whom his hope was resting. But that seed failed and Israel failed, and God set him aside and cut out a new channel, the church. And the story of Isaac and his seed is a story of weakness, and a story of failure, and a story of apostasy, and a story of idolatry, and a story of sin. But Jesus Christ, the ultimate son of Abraham came to fulfill everything that Isaac couldn’t do, and from him will spring forth a seed that will number as the sands of the seas and number as the stars of the heaven. And they will carry out the purposes of God forever.
So Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham came to overcome the failures of both of those lines and their seeds and to accomplish what they could never accomplish. But he came through the line of two sinners. That’s grace. God’s grace is seen in one woman and two men.
3. Grace abounding in the history of three eras.
Matthew 1:17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. Notice that? Three eras.
Now the first period is the period from Abraham to David. That’s the period of the patriarchs and the period of the Judges. Patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Joshua and the great judges like Deborah, Barak, Samson, Jephthah etc.. It’s that great period of heroism when Israel was made famous. You have people even like Ruth and people like Jesse, the father of David. Ah, it was a period of greatness.
The second period is the period from David to the exile of Babylon. It’s a period of decline. The first is a period of ascendency, as Israel goes from non-existence at Abraham’s time and oblivion to fame where Israel goes from victory after victory. The second period is the period of the monarchy. And as soon as the monarchy came with Saul, things started to go downhill.
And from David following, you have glory days in Solomon. But after Solomon, tragedy upon tragedy upon tragedy. Oh, every once in a while in the genealogy you get a little glimpse of a Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah; they were good and godly. But what seems to dominate is Rehoboams, Ahazes, Manassehs, who were evil men. And it’s a period of apostasy, and it’s a period of degeneracy that ultimately ends up in the devastation and destruction of Israel and the captivity in Babylon.
You say what’s the third period? The third period is from the captivity unto Christ. You don’t know anything about that period. It’s a period of 600 years shrouded in darkness. Names we don’t even know: Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Akim, Eliud, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob. We don’t know these people. Oblivion.
So the story of Israel is the story of three eras of glory, decline, and oblivion; nevertheless through that nation that the Messiah comes. That is grace. He’s the King of grace. God’s grace was given as evident in one woman, two men, and three eras in the history of a decaying nation.
4. Grace abounding to the four outcast women.
There are only four women mentioned in this genealogy. I want you to see who they are.
a. Tamar. Matthew 1:3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar.
What kind of a lady was Tamar? Let me introduce you to her from Genesis 38. Judah wanted a wife for his firstborn Er, so he took Tamar. Er was wicked and the Lord put him to death. Tamar was childless and she was given over to her brother. He too was wicked and the Lord put him to death. Then she was promised the third son and send back to her father’s house until he is ready for marriage.
Now Tamar’s father-in-law goes up to Timnath to shear his sheep. Tamar put her widow’s garments off from her, covers her head and sits in an open place. “When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her and said, ‘Come, let me come in unto thee.’ Little did he know that she was his daughter-in-law.
Judah had not brought money, so Tamar took a pledge of Judah’s signet ring, bracelets, and staff. She was conceived by him that day and her identity was proved. There was harlotry and incest. Out of that conception came twins, Pharez and Zarah. You know what’s amazing about that? They are the next people in the genealogy of the line of the Messiah.
b. Rahab. Matthew 1:5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.
When you say “Rahab,” what comes to your mind? “Rehab the harlot.” She is a Canaanite, outcast, Gentile, idolatress, a professional prostitute. Joshua chapter 2 tells us about it. She decided to stand for the Lord and God brought her into his lineage. From her came Boaz. And do you know something about Boaz? Oh, what a godly man. What a godly man.
c. Ruth. Matthew 1:5 Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth.
Boaz was married to Ruth. You say Ruth was not a prostitute. Yes, Ruth was a godly woman. But you know what Ruth was? She was a Gentile, a Moabite. She was an outcast.
Genesis 19 has the origin of Moabites. And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain cave with his two daughters. The firstborn said unto the younger, “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed from our father.” Incest.
“And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.” “And it came to pass on the next day, the firstborn said unto the younger, ‘Behold, I lay last night with my father: let us make him drink wine tonight also; and go in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed from our father.’ And they made their father drink wine that night also:” It’s tragic he didn’t have enough backbone to defend himself against somebody making him drunk.
And the younger arose, and lay with him. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab, the father of the Moabites.
Ruth was a Moabite. She was born of incest. God cursed her line: Deuteronomy 23:3 No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation. God picks up a cursed lady born of an incestuous relationship with the daughters of Judah. Now that’s thee interesting ladies who received grace.
She herself was a pure lady. She was the wife of Boaz, and you want to hear something wonderful? She became the grandmother of David.
d. Bathsheba. Matthew 1:6 David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife. According to 2 Samuel 11 & 12, she was up on a roof sunbathing and David was up there looking around. He said, “That’s the one I want.” Brought her over, had a relationship with her, produced a child. She was an adulteress.
You’ve got two harlots, one born out of incest, and an adulteress, and they’re the only four ladies mentioned in the entire genealogy of Jesus Christ. Now what do you think the message is? God is a God of what? Grace. Are you glad about that grace. I think that this genealogy was a literal knockout punch by Matthew against the Jews.
Coming through a nation whose history was a degenerative history, coming from two sinful men and born to one sinful lady was the King of all kings. Let it be known to Israel and anybody who listens Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners. Did you get that? He’s the friend of sinners. And he himself said it. “I have not come to call the righteous, but – ” what? “ sinners to repentance.”
This morning grace is available for those who turn to him. You may have messed up, you may have blown it up but God is willing to give you his grace this morning. Let’s pray.