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Matthew 1:1-17 The Genealogy of Jesus Reveals His Identity as Messiah

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If we made a thorough investigation into Jesus’ full birth certificate, we would conclude that He is Messiah. Matthew Henry wrote, “Unless Jesus is a Son of David, and a Son of Abraham, He is not the Messiah.”[i] Similarly, William MacDonald stated, “Unless it can be shown that Jesus is a legal descendant of David through the royal line, it is impossible to prove that He is the Messiah-the King of Israel.”[ii]

One might ask, was Yeshua a good man, a prophet or the Son of God? Really astute thinkers will recognise that He is all three being the only sinless Man, the Prophet like Moses and the Son of God.

The Bible has a unique, impeccable and detailed list of genealogies. Genesis 5 lists from Adam to Noah confirming ‘this is the book of the genealogy of Adam’, noticeably the same phrase is used regarding Jesus in Matthew 1:1. 1 Chronicles provides exhaustive lists and 1 and 2 Kings chronicle the kings, some of whom are in the ancestry of the Messiah. Ruth 4:18-22 records from Perez to David, Matthew lists the legal line from Abraham to Jesus and Luke 3 provides the line from Jesus all the way to Adam.

Today people frequently undertake online searches investigating their ancestral records in relation to their identity, or take DNA tests to determine their ethnicity. Genealogies are of course vital from a Jewish perspective and some of my Jewish friends have recently taken DNA tests. Records were kept in the Temple until the Temple was destroyed in AD70. J. Vernon McGee notes that those in opposition to Jesus did not question his genealogy since they could check the records.[iii]

Currently in the UK, we reside in a post-modern, post-truth, historically challenged, cancel culture. People are suspicious concerning the meta-narrative (main story) using the get out of jail free card that ‘history is written by the victors.’ There is some merit in this view as can be demonstrated from the many times Hatshepsut who was most likely the Egyptian princess that raised Moses has had her face defaced, on too many occasions! Nowadays people fall into that same default position and ironically pull-down statues of those they disagree with. This genealogy kicks into touch the assumed presupposition that inconvenient details are always omitted. In the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew 1, four women are mentioned, all Gentile, two were prostitutes and one committed adultery. Two out of those four were Canaanites, one a Moabite and another a Hittite.

A valuable application from this list is not to let your ancestry or life history be an obstacle to trusting in the Lord. Many people have a chequered history though redemption can be found through Messiah.

The Family line

Tamar perpetuated her family line though not in a godly manner yet she is listed in this genealogy.

Rahab was a harlot although she saved the spies and her act of faith meant that she was recorded in the great ‘hall of faith’ in Hebrews 11.

Ruth was a Moabite though a godly woman of remarkable character. She married Boaz and trusted in the Lord foreshadowing Gentile and Jewish believers being reconciled through Yeshua the Messiah.

Bathsheba committed adultery though in all fairness in her particular case, she probably had little choice in the matter. Some commentaries which I am inclined to agree with state she probably wrote the exemplary and inspired Proverbs 31. Certainly, her advice to the ‘king’ not to give himself to women or wine resemble David taking advantage of her and getting her husband Uriah drunk on purpose for his benefit.

But notice that Joseph was the husband of Mary of whom Jesus is born. Unlike the rest of the genealogy, Matthew does not state Joseph ‘begot’ or ‘is the father’ of Jesus. Mary is an example to everyone with respect of her calling, particularly for young people since she responded, “let it be according to Your word.” The Song of Mary contains tremendous theology and astonishing faith in her Saviour who is her Son.

The Son of David

Jesus the Messiah is the Son of David. 2 Samuel 7 foretold a greater Son whose kingdom would be established from the Davidic covenant. Solomon would build a temple, though David’s greater Son would rule forever. In the Brit Hadasha, the Pharisees asked a question about whose son Yeshua was, so He asked in return, regarding Psalm 110:1, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord’ saying: The LORD said to my Lord’, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’? David was the King of Israel, though he spoke of One far greater.

Yeshua was born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, David’s city. He was recognised by his talmidim (disciples) as the greater Prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22; 7:37), whom Moses foretold (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). He is also Priest and King, which again is a unique role (Psalm 110) and His reign is from everlasting to everlasting (Isaiah 9:6-7).

The Son of Abraham

There were three blessings from the Abrahamic covenant including the descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore, the land as an everlasting possession and that through him all families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:5; 17-7-9). Jesus is the Son of Abraham, a blessing to all nations and was the promised blessing through the Abrahamic covenant.

Yeshua is the Son of Abaham, yet He was also before Abraham (John 8:48-59). When Jesus said, “Before Abraham I AM,” he was referencing Exodus 3:14, and it was no surprise that those who heard him tried to stone Him, since He was making a claim of divinity and they considered that blasphemy. The seven I AM statements also point us to His divinity namely I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the door, I am the good shepherd, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the way, the truth and the life and I am the true vine.

So Jesus is the Author of life. He took on flesh and entered our world that He created. This genealogy shows that history is His story and that He owns history. In the Scriptures, prophecy is history written in advance and history is prophecy foretold.

Who do you say Jesus is?

This is the all-important question that divides the world. Jesus is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham and the Son of God. He is Prophet, Priest and King and His reign is an everlasting reign. He is the first and the last, the aleph and the tav, the beginning and the end. Have you turned to Him and are you trusting in Him?

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).”

[i] Matthew Henry Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible (Moody Press, Chicago), p673

[ii] William MacDonald Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 1995; Nashville), p1203

[iii] J Vernon McGee Thru the Bible Commentary Series Matthew Chapters 1-13 (Thomas Nelson, 1991; Nashville), p22