This holiday season, I wanted to take a look at Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth. Each gospel is written for a different purpose to a different audience. Matthew wrote his account of Jesus’ life to show the Jewish community that Jesus was the prophesied King. Matthew’s gospel is not comprehensive, nor is it chronological, but what he included was purposed in proving Jesus as King. Therefore, when he starts his book with the genealogy of Jesus, this would have been extremely important to his Jewish audience.
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
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 the Christ fourteen generations.
There are many Old Testament prophesies that spoke to Jesus coming from the line of David and reigning on David’s throne.
A sample of these prophecies include:
Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse… the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. -Isaiah 1-3, 10
…I will raise up a Righteous Branch of David. -Jeremiah 23:5-6
My servant David will be king over them… My servant David will be their prince forever. -Ezekiel 37:24-25
Ten times in Matthew, he writes that the events in Jesus’ life took place in order to fulfill prophecy. (1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17, 13:35; 21:4; 27:9) Matthew made it clear that God keeps His promises and fulfills His Word. Jesus is the promised Christ, the Messiah, the King.
You can look even further back for the beginning of the gospel to Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham was that he would be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:1-3). This was fully realized in Jesus. What Israel was expecting from the prophecies was a human king who would rule their country and lead them in military victory. But Jesus is King over all and reigns as Savior in our lives. His kingdom is both here and it is coming. How is it possible for something to be both here and coming? His kingdom is of heaven and it has come to earth with His birth. It is also coming again when He returns. And when we realize this, it changes everything about how we live.
What may be one of the most fascinating aspects of Jesus’ lineage is that he came from a line of human beings: sinful, fallible human beings. David himself committed adultery and murder! There were people guilty of incest, prostitution, immorality, and utter disobedience to God. But what we see in this line of people is that they were never outside the sovereign control of God. But why would God choose this path for His Son? Why are these people included in the line that leads to Jesus? For the same reason each of us is included in the line that leads from Jesus. Solely because of the sovereign grace of God.
See, too, that the lineage of Jesus does not just include Israel. If you remember the gospel blessing in Genesis 12 and realize that God sovereignly chose Gentiles in Jesus’ ancestry, then the picture becomes abundantly clear that God sent Jesus with a global purpose. God not only fulfilled prophecy to bless his chosen people, He also accomplishes His purpose in blessing all people. So even here in Jesus’ birth, the Great Commission is peeking out. If God sent His Son for all people, then the imperative for us to make disciples of those nations is clear from the beginning of Jesus’ life. This point cannot be missed.
And as you read the book of Matthew, you will find that there are three groups of people who respond to this mission. There are the religious leaders who reject Jesus. There are the masses of people who follow Jesus so long as He is giving them what they want. And there are the disciples of Jesus who follow Him unconditionally.
So as we look at the birth of Jesus in this four-part post, I hope that you’ll see it anew and not just through the conventional lens that we are used to seeing it. In fact, we may even debunk some of the songs we sing during the holidays and the nativities we depict. And I think it is important we shrug off those notions and see what the Bible really is telling us. May it affect the way we worship this holiday season and live obediently for God’s global purpose throughout the year.
Scripture quoted from the English Standard Version. Commentary from “Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Matthew” by B&H Publishing Group.