Sunday, December 12, 2010

Matthew 1:1-17, Royal Heredity

How important are credentials to you? Let’s say you’re facing a serious medical problem and need to choose a specialist. How important is it to you for your doctor to be qualified? How would you treat their medical advice, their diagnosis of your condition, and the medical treatment they recommend if you had doubts about their medical degree?

When you entrust your child to a school, how important is to know that the school is qualified to teach your child? Don’t you want to know if the school is accredited, that the teachers have college degrees and are certified with the state?

And when you face spiritual questions that have to do with eternity, questions about your spiritual condition and what’s in store for you, how important is it to you that your savior be qualified, credentialed, accredited with a good reputation? Today we will be looking at Jesus’ credentials and consider whether you will accept His qualifications and put your trust in Him.

1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

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.

For you and me today, the sight of a genealogy like this one is enough to make our eyes glaze over. It’s a long list of unfamiliar names that are hard to pronounce, and don’t hold much meaning for us. The modern western reader would be inclined to skip this part so we can get to the good part, the actual story. But Matthew was writing to mainly Jews. When it came to biographies, for the ancient Jew, most often the genealogy made or broke the whole story. Since royalty depends on heredity, Jesus’ pedigree would have instantly piqued the ancient Jew’s interest because it instantly established Jesus’ right to the throne of David.

Careful records had to be kept of every Jew’s family relationships in order to authenticate that they were from the tribe and clan they claimed. At stake was each person’s claim to God's inheritance in Israel, an actual plot of land. But also at stake were the royal lineage of David in anticipation of Messiah, the priestly lineage of Aaron, in order to choose high priests, and the Levitical lineage in order to serve in the temple. All these public records were kept in the temple and were carefully protected along with the scriptures when the Jews went into exile.

You can read about how important the genealogical records were when the Jewish people returned from exile to Jerusalem in the book of Ezra. Three families claimed to be descended from Levi, but because no records could be found to prove it, they were barred from returning with the rest of the Levites (Ez 2:62).

The phrase “Son of David” referred to the Messiah, and could only be traced through the kings of Judah. The ancient Jewish reader would have understood that what Matthew wanted them to know was that Jesus' lineage proved that He was legitimately from the kingly line of David, and a direct descendant of Abraham. The presence of an unbroken record before and after the exile left no question that Jesus was Who He claimed to be.

[Tomorrow: The Women In Jesus' Geneology]

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