STUDY ONE: MATTHEW 1:1-17 - JESUS' FAMILY TREE

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2012

Matthew’s introduction to Jesus Christ provides us with a genealogy that links Jesus solidly with significant Old Testament characters and expectations.

A.THE ABRAHAM CONNECTION

 Matthew traces Jesus’ human ancestry back to Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews to whom God’s covenant of promise and of grace was originally given.

Read the scripture verses. What are the key covenant concepts in these verses?

Genesis 12:2

 

 

 

 

Genesis 12:3

 

 

 

 

Gen 15:4-5

 

 

Genesis 15:6

 

 

 In connecting Jesus with Abraham Matthew is connecting him with the covenant promises made by God to Abraham, and presenting to us the fact that Jesus is the promised offspring of Abraham through whom God would bless all nations.

He is also putting before us the fact that this blessing would come to us through Jesus by the same means that God’s blessing of imputed righteousness came to Abraham, that is, by faith. 

Thus Matthew links Jesus directly to the Abrahamic covenant, a covenant that preceded the Sinai/Law covenant by over 400 years, and with which the contemporary Jews had largely lost touch because of their focus on the Sinai covenant. Thus Matthew pulls us back beyond the law to Abraham, and the covenant promises God made to Abraham. This clash between Jesus and the covenant of promise and the contemporary Jewish exaltation of the law becomes evident as we read through Matthew’s Gospel.

 B. THE DAVID CONNECTION

David, the second king of the Israelites, was the most famous – he won the most victories, he extended the kingdom to its maximum territory, he was the ‘man after God’s own heart’, the writer of dozens of spiritual songs.  

It was to David that God made promises of a kingdom that would never end and an unending succession of his descendants on the throne. Yet David died. His kingdom was divided and conquered. His descendants lost his kingdom. Today, there is no David king and no Davidic kingdom. 

In his covenant with David God looked beyond the physical and temporal to the spiritual and eternal. God looked to the future, when his own Son, born as a human being in the lineage of David, would rule over an eternal spiritual kingdom.  

This connection with David identifies Jesus as both King and Messiah.

How do these verses look beyond any earthly king to the great King and Messiah, Jesus Christ?

2Samuel 7:12-17

 

 

 

2Samuel 23:5

 

 

 

Psalm 89:3,4

 

 

 

Psalm 89: 26-37

 

 

 

Psalm 132:11-18

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 55:3,4

 

 

 

 C. THE ‘LEFT FIELD’ CONNECTION 

While connecting Jesus with Abraham and David is rational and expected, the third significant connection Matthew makes is totally unexpected. He throws four people into this genealogy whom no one would have bothered to mention, firstly because they are women, and women had little significance to the Jewish male and did not normally feature in genealogies, and secondly because in one way or another each of them suffered a bad reputation: 

Tamar – Genesis 38

Pretended to be a prostitute and deliberately tricked her father-in-law into having sex with her.

Rahab – Joshua 2; 6:25

A prostitute by profession

Ruth 

 

Was a Moabite [non-Jew] and a widow

Bathsheba – 2Samuel 11-12

The wife of Uriah the Hittite with whom David committed adultery.

The inclusion of these women into this introduction which focuses on covenant and kingdom anticipates a key gospel perspective: that the covenant and the kingdom that is inaugurated by Jesus is also trans-national and redemptive: 

By this covenant and in this kingdom: 

It is God’s purpose to take hold of sinners and make them his own.

It is God’s purpose to take hold of the outcasts and include them in his family.

It is God’s purpose to take hold of the Gentiles and make them the people of God.

 

Not by their own actions but by his action in his Son.

Not by their merit but by his mercy.

Not because of their performance but because of his pleasure.

 

Just as out of these four wrecked lives the Messiah is born, so God, through this Messiah, redeems the sinner, not only Jewish sinners, but non-Jewish sinners also. The covenant and the kingdom he inaugurates are not based on human merit but on the will and the grace of God. 

This is the Jesus whose story and whose kingdom Matthew is about to record and describe.