We Need a King, Pt. 2
Jul 05, 2020
The case for the Jesus described in Matthew must be foolproof, otherwise all of our profession and trust in Him is a sham. Matthew proves Jesus is the true Christ who is our King.
- Credible as King
This genealogy is not something to dismiss or cast aside.
- It is strange to just work through a list of names and seeing purpose in that.
- This has to mean something!
1. The Context
Perhaps it is important to recognize that though we know little personally about Matthew (other names, Levi, a former tax collector) that this Jew, one of the twelve Apostles, Matthew was brilliant.
- More than a tax collector.
- Must have been literary and bilingual, perhaps trilingual, dealing with Jews, Greeks, and Romans.
- Powerfully precise in record keeping and something of a scribe for the apostolic band (harmonizing the Gospel accounts on Matthew).
- Not a prominent Apostle, very smart.
Matthew is on a mission to indict Jewish unbelief while exalting the saving power and grace that flows from the King!
Genealogies in Ancient Near East served diverse functions: economic, tribal, political, domestic to show family or geographical relationships.
- This, much more.
- Proves: Jesus is the Christ.
- Title given by Matthew – “Jesus Christ.”
- The only reference to full name title – Matthew otherwise “Jesus” as known commonly.
- Here Jesus affirmed as “Christ!” Messiah, King.
Genealogy reveals two particular things about this King.
- King is qualified
- King brings grace - ancestry full of grace.
2. The Goal
Matthew’s chief aim to show Jesus Christ is truly from David’s kingly line.
- The focus in verse 6 (cf. Matt. 1:1 “the son of David”).
ESV Matthew 1:6 and aJesse the father of David the king. And bDavid was the father of Solomon by cthe wife of Uriah
ESV 2 Samuel 7:12 aWhen your days are fulfilled and byou lie down with your fathers, cI will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.13 aHe shall build a house for my name, and bI will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.14 aI will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, bI will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,15 abut my steadfast love will not depart from him, bas I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.16 aAnd your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.1 aYour throne shall be established forever.'"
Proving he came through the line of David is the end state.
a. Proof from a human standpoint
Matthew’s reliability comes in the fact that the first two-thirds of the genealogy is taken from the Old Testament - LXX (1 Chronicle 1-3 and Ruth 4:12-22).
- After Zerubbabel (who rebuilt the temple after the exile), Matthew relies on extra-biblical
- As accurate as the Old Testament record.
- Recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through Matthew.
- The record is final for establishing the Messiah.
- The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, comes before the 400 years of silence.
- In AD 70, when the re-built temple was destroyed by Rome, other records also destroyed, so no genealogies exist to trace the ancestry of any Jew now living.
- Impossible to invent another way to establish the line to David’s throne.
- Impossible to find another Messiah through a different Genealogy!
Beginning this Gospel with a dauntingly long list of names to wade through may seem intimidating but when you break it down into bites, you see it with greater clarity.
- Remember this credential has to be accurate and for the Jewish mind!
- Same as genealogies in Genesis (cff. Gen. 5:1; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27).
- One misstep meant disqualification.
Ezra reorganizing worship of God, returning from exile, debarred from office some from the priesthood (Habaiah, Koz, and Barzillai) debarred from office, “unclean”
ESV Ezra 2:62 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and aso they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.
- A priest would have an unbroken pedigree reaching back to Aaron.
- Not slightest admixture of foreign blood or would lose rights as priest and Jew.
Still, not merely a legal record but read more like a story of someone’s life.
- A record of how someone came to be.
- Inspired, living history.
This pedigree carefully arranged in terms of three groups of fourteen people each.
Which accounts for verse 17.
ESV Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to athe Christ fourteen generations.
Each era symbolically categorized under a list of 14 generations which actually are 14 names of lifetimes representing phases of redemptive history.
- These three “fourteen generations” periods are not strictly mathematical.
- Scholars spiritualize the number 14 but this is technically a mnemonic/literary device to memorize it.
- Not many printed.
- are gaps within the list of kings
- Certain names overlap marking transitions and this makes up 14 generations in each era.
The three eras:
- First Abraham to David comprising 800-900 years
- Second David to exile comprising 400 years
- Third exile to Christ in the last 600 years.
- Covering roughly two thousand years proving Jesus is “the son of David” (v. 1).
The first period is the patriarchs, Abraham to David.
- Abraham representing God’s heart for the nations
- Matthew capstones this with the King’s commission at the end of his gospel (cf. Matt. 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”).
- Abraham’s name means “Father of a multitude of nations” (cf. Gen. 17:5).
The first section (vv. 1-6) takes the history first descends to Abraham and ascends back to David.
- Patriarchs prove the path to David.
- Story down to the rise of Israel’s greatest king – “David” (v. 6).
- Who made Israel and the Jews a power in the world.
The second section takes the story to the exile of Babylon (vv. 7-11).
- This tells of the nation’s shame, tragedy, and disaster.
- Israel insisted on having human kings like other nations.
- Kings predominately lead them away from God.
- A period of decline.
- Only a few kings like David and Josiah evidenced godliness.
Third period was captivity, exile, and return, bringing the 400 years known as the intertestamental period marking the time (vv. 12-15--- v.16).
- Most of who are mentioned are unknown apart from this list.
- Israel’s Dark Ages.
Still, this leads us to Jesus Christ who would liberate men from their slavery and disaster from tragedy to triumph.
Three stages stand for three stages in the spiritual history of mankind.
- God’s kingdom and glory manifest through a nation and people.
- God’s kingdom and glory were lost due to sin.
- God’s kingdom and glory to be restored by a coming King.
This lineage tells the story of Glory, Loss, Hope - Mercy, not left to tragedy.
b. Proof from a divine standpoint
Jesus knew he was King.
What he stated to Pilate.
ESV John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, a"You say that I am a king. bFor this purpose I was born and for this purpose cI have come into the world--dto bear witness to the truth. eEveryone who is fof the truth glistens to my voice."
Listen to Christ’s voice through the Truth woven together through these generations.
Important to note the women.
- Unusual to find names of women in genealogies but we have four.
- Women had no legal rights.
- Still, women might like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah – expected!
- Matthew’s four are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.
- All Gentiles and Ruth a Moabites (cf. Dt. 23:3 “not admitted in the congregation”).
These were improbable candidates. Three of the four had dubious reputations.
- Three of the four known to have illicit immoral sins.
- Tamar (v. 3) disguised herself as a prostitute and from her illicit union were born twins, Perez and Zerah (cf. Gen. 38).
- Perez joined Judah in the messianic line (v. 3).
- Rahab’s profession was prostitution and she lied to the messengers of the king of Jericho to save Israel’s spies.
- Still, God’s grace fell on them all and they were part of this line (cff. Josh. 2; 6).
- God sparing Rahab’s life brought her into the line as she married Salmon becoming the mother of godly Boaz (v. 5).
- Boaz who redeemed and married Ruth.
- Regarding Ruth, there is no scandal.
- Still, being Moabites (a Gentile) connects here to the Moabite people finding their origin through Lot’s daughters committing in immoral interfamily acts (cf. Gen. 19).
- Ruth was not only brought into the family of God but the grandmother of King David.
This is dropping barriers between Jew and Gentile and between male and female.
- These stories are about sinners.
- Though earthy, meant to pull the heartstrings as a symbol of Gospel mercy and love.
Verse 6, in a non-descript, discrete way brings up one more woman, Bathsheba, “the wife of Uriah” (v. 6).
- David committed adultery with her and had Uriah her husband sent to the battlefront to be killed and then took her as his wife.
- The son produced by adultery died in infancy, but the next son born to them was Solomon (cff. 2 Sam. 11; 12).
“If Matthew had ransacked the pages of the Old Testament for improbable candidates he could not have discovered four more incredible ancestors for Jesus Christ. There is something lovely here at the very beginning Matthew shows us symbol of essence of gospel of God in Jesus Christ…” [Barclay]
ESV Matthew 9:13 Go and learn awhat this means, bc'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For cI came not to call the righteous, dbut sinners."
3. The Question
This being the case, “How can a sinless Savior and King come from a line so soiled by sin and sinners?”
- This kind of mixed and checkered pedigree and history would appear disqualified for the position of Messiah.
- God chose from a wide-spectrum of humanity, repulsive to someone orthodox but actually is designed to invoke an opposite response.
Understanding the practical purpose of this line actually reveals the true Jesus Christ.
- Remember verse 1, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ” (v. 1).
- This list reveals Jesus.
- One who is as real life as earthy sin torn sinners while being without sin, to cleanse and rescue sinners!
To see this in Matthew’s genealogy you need to understand its direct purpose in light of Luke’s genealogy.
- Both lines meant to prove Jesus as a descendant of David but one is a royal line and the other a legal line (physical bloodline).
- Matthew proves the royal line through Joseph’s history
- Luke proving the legal/physical line.
- This is much more than a clarification between two lines.
Matthew’s line tracing Jesus through Joseph’s history and Luke’s history through Mary’s history.
- That said, Matthew records Joseph was the son of Jacob who descended from David through David’s son and successor King Solomon (Matt. 1:16)
- Luke states Joseph was the son of Heli who had descended from David through Nathan, also David’s son but Solomon’s brother (cf. Luke 3:23).
This distinction is not some kind of clerical error but actually opens up something important about the character of Jesus.
I am pulling this together from Donald Grey Barnhouse’s research.
Both lines run parallel from Abraham to David.
- Matthew comes down to Jesus by way of Solomon (cf. Matt. 1:6), son of David, and Luke comes down to Jesus by way of Nathan (cf. Luke 3:31), also a son of David.
- The two genealogies are lines of two brothers and their children from each line are cousins.
- This again establishes the difference between Solomon’s line being royal while Nathan’s line is the legal/bloodline.
For Luke’s line, Nathan was the older brother of Solomon, but the younger brother took the throne.
- Nathan’s line ran through the years and ultimately produced the Virgin Mary.
- Solomon’s line ran through the years and ultimately produced Joseph.
Matthew does not say Joseph begat Jesus, but was the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus (cf. Matt. 1:16).
4. The Resolution
“Why is it important to establish both lines?” “Would not one line suffice?”
It is important to understand that both lines were necessary to harmonize Jesus’ qualification to as divine Messiah and King.
- You have to have both to have the true Jesus Christ.
- This actually comes clear when you understand an obscure reference to a king named in Matthew’s genealogy in Matthew 1:11-12.
He was the final king in Israel’s history, penultimate king of Judah, dethroned by the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II in the 6th century B.C.
- Jeconiah’s wickedness represented the rebellion from Israel’s former kings which led to Israel’s exile.
- God placed a curse on Jeconiah’s line taking the throne away from any of his descendants.
ESV Jeremiah 22:30 Thus says the LORD: "Write this man down as achildless, a man who shall not succeed in his days, bfor none of his offspring shall succeed cin sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah."
Jeconiah’s curse is symbolic of what a mere human king could never accomplish!
- Sin-cursed leadership void of God’s blessing producing failure.
- Joseph’s line was the royal line but broken by sin and left to itself creates a problem requiring a solution.
Part of the solution is to know “Joseph” is “…the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born” (Matt. 1:16) meaning “Joseph” was Jesus’ “step-father.”
- If Joseph had been Jesus’ father by blood, Jesus could not have been Messiah.
- There would be a regal disqualification.
Not any of the seven blood sons (Jesus’ half-brothers) born to Joseph and Mary could have been king because of God’s curse.
Jesus was not under Jeconiah’s curse because of Mary’s line.
Her line came through David’s son Nathan (not Solomon) and was not a royal line.
- This line alone would not have credentialed Jesus as King but it does solve Jeconiah’s curse as Jesus came through different bloodline.
Luke 1:23 actually refers to Jesus as Joseph’s “son” and Joseph “as was supposed to Heli” (i.e “son-in-law” to “Heli”) - Mary’s father.
So, any son of Heli would have had to face the fact that this was not a regal line, coming through David to Nathan not Solomon who was one of Israel’s kings!
“How was this dilemma solved?”
[Barnhouse]: “The answer is this: The line that had no curse upon it produced Heli and his daughter the Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus Christ. He is therefore eligible by the line of Nathan and exhausts the line. The line that had a curse on it produced Joseph and exhausts the line of Solomon…”
- Joseph’s other children had an older brother who, legally, by adoption, is the royal heir.
- So, only by divine and sovereign design could you solve a curse on one line and a lack of reigning royalty in the other by marrying the two together!
- This is exactly what happened!
This is more than just cleaning up apparent contradictions or details!
“What does this tell you about your King?”
[Barnhouse] “When God the Holy Spirit bagat the Lord Jesus in the womb of the Virgin without any human father, the child that was born was the seed of David according to the flesh. And when Joseph married Mary and took the unborn child under his protecting care, giving him the title that had come down to him through his ancestor Solomon, the Lord Jesus became the legal Messiah, the royal Messiah, the uncursed Messiah, the true Messiah, the only possible Messiah.”
- These lines are exhausted so that no one else could be Christ!
- Without this kind of fulfillment without a miracle birth you have no Christ.
- Anyone else claiming to be Messiah is false, a liar a child of Satan.
Conclusion: On the other hand, you need to see what this proves about our King.
- He is not only qualified, he is real-life!
- Jesus comes from an earthy, sin cursed history!
- A line soiled by sinners attached to abhorrent sins.
- A line that is interracially mixed.
- A line reverberating with grace and merciful second chances and redemption stories!
“How can Jesus be part of this line?”
- He was fully human and fully divine!
- Jesus is fully but without sin.
ESV Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest awho is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been xtempted as we are, eyet without sin.
- Fully divine, God very God. Born of the virgin Mary.
ESV Matthew 1:16 and Jacob the father of aJoseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
ESV Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of aJesus Christ1 took place in this way. bWhen his mother Mary had been betrothed2 to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child cfrom the Holy Spirit.
What this means is Jesus is as earthly as a human but as righteous as a sinless savior.
Ryle: “Our sins may be as black as this list but nothing will shut us out of heaven”