“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Do you know what a “honey do list” is? Have you every seen one of those? I still have flashbacks when I think of the list that Leah gave me when we bought our first house. Scary stuff, it’s like you can’t win. I mean, if you do them, well you have to do them so you don’t win, and if you don’t do them then you certainly don’t win…
What is a “honey do list”? It is a checklist of expectations. My wife, Leah, gave me a list and expected me to get everything done on that list. I am glad my wife is understanding, and the list wasn’t very long. That being said, there was stuff I had to get done within a few days of buying our house.
Well, today, in celebration of Christmas, we are looking at a “honey dew list” of sorts. We are talking about expectations, about what was on the Jewish “honey do list” for the Messiah. We see from Scripture and history that the “honey do list” was not as small and understanding as my wife’s. They had a huge list. Different people had different lists but any list would be a hard list to check off, actually all but impossible, in less of course God were to act in an amazing way.
There is a lot we could look at but we are only going to look at one verse from the genealogy of Jesus. This is important because it is as we understand what all the expectations were that we better understand and appreciate what Christmas is truly about. In the words of “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem,” it helps us understand that all “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”
So, we see from our text today, that Jesus is the Promised One, the long-awaited Messiah, that will fulfill all the prophecies and promises regarding Him. He will crush the serpent of old and lead the way back into Eden, He will bless all the nations of the earth, He will set up His righteous and eternal Kingdom; this is what this newborn baby will do! The baby whose birthday we celebrate on December 25th is no less than a king, indeed the King, Emmanuel, God with us!
A few years ago, I went to Ohio to visit my family, my dad showed me a family tree that one of my ancestors had made, he was the President at a Wesleyan school in Delaware (I believe in the 1800’s) and did a bunch of research. Well, his research revealed that I had an ancestor on the Mayflower. I was really excited. I got thinking to myself, wow, how cool. I am a pastor and I am related to a Puritan that was on the Mayflower. They had such an impact on this country, wow… Then, snap back to reality my dad kept talking, and apparently my ancestor was not a Puritan but a carpenter. I don’t think he even liked the Puritans, it was just a job for him; though he did get the lady (Pricilla)! His name is John Alden. He was one of the founders of the Plymouth Colony and the seventh to sign the Mayflower compact…
Genealogies are not as important to today but they were in Jesus’ day… We also see from my short example that it is important to know some background information… Well, in our story, background information is vital. However, we do not have the luxury of being brought up Jewish. So there is a lot of vital information that we need to understand so the full weight of what Matthew is saying here in his Christmas story can be appreciated.
Mark’s Gospel doesn’t contain the Christmas story but does begin with the words “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Though, Matthew does not come out and explicitly state this is good news like Mark does it is implied. Matthew is communicating good news about the Messiah, the Promised One. This truly is good news! God had, so to speak, been silent for a long time. During the intertestamental period (that is, between the Old and New Testaments), there had been a short time of excitement for God’s people during the Maccabean revolt, but that did not last. Many people’s hope was growing cold but here we see a claim that there is good news because the Christ, the long-awaited Promised One, had come! This would indeed be good news!
The first verse of Matthew’s Gospel is significant. It is the title of his whole book, and what do titles do for us? They tell us what the book is about and often where it is going, and that is exactly what Matthew’s title does. He says, “The book of the story of Jesus Christ.” So, this book is going to tell us about the story of Jesus and the word “story” is literally genesis. This recalls Genesis 2:4 and 5:1 and hints at the fact that Jesus’s story will bring a new creation. Jesus (Yeshua) is a shortened form of Joshua (Yehoshuah) and means, “Yahweh saves.” Notice next that it says, “Jesus Christ.” This may be the only place that Jesus and Christ are seen together in this way in the whole Gospel of Matthew (depending on what you do with manuscript evidence; v. 18 and 16:21 are disputed). However, either way, “Jesus Christ” here is significant, especially in such close proximity to the mention of David and Abraham. This is because there were major messianic promises given to both of them in reference to an heir, an offspring.
So Jesus is born and we celebrate this as Christmas but why is so much space seemingly wasted on a long genealogy in both Matthew and Luke? Why can’t we get to more of the cool stuff, the shepherds, stars, and angels? Couldn’t the Gospel writers have used the space taken up with genealogies to say what kind of animal Mary rode? And couldn’t they tell us whether or not the newborn baby Jesus cried? Didn’t they know that was important? What could explain their omission?
Well, it is quite possible that they thought that Jesus’ genealogy was more important, because it is. We will mainly be looking at Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.
If you read Jesus’ genealogy, you see some surprising names. You see women, even Gentile women, even prostitutes. To list a woman at all (in those times) is not normal and certainly not necessary so why would they be listed? Surely if you were going to try and make someone sound important you would leave out the bad stuff, right? On a resume, I hope you do not falsify stuff but I also hope you do not interject bad tidbits about your past, that just seems stupid.
So, why here? Why bring up Jesus’ less than spectacular ancestors? To highlight Jesus being spectacular! Matthew said this book is about Jesus, and Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He came for the spiritually ill, he came for the prostitutes, for the pimps, the drug abusers, for the everyday sinners like you and me. So, Sam Allberry has said, “Matthew’s genealogy includes the outcast, scandalous and foreigner. The family Jesus comes from anticipates the family he has come for.”
Thus, we see that the heir to the throne of David is also low and loving. We see that the line of the Messiah has been graciously and meticulously preserved (cf. esp. Ruth). We see that Jesus is bringing in a new Kingdom and creation that welcomes and changes all. So now let’s turn to the main point. Jesus is the Son of Adam (implied in Matthew and explicit in Luke 3:38) and the Son of Abraham and the son of David.
First, we see Jesus is the Promised Offspring of Adam. Why is this significant? Recall God’s long ago promise to Adam: Genesis 3:15. In what context did this promise take place? It was after the fall. Man sins against God and this brought chaos and death to the entire world. It is in this context that we see what we call the first gospel, or first good news (protoevangelium).
So first, we see that Jesus is the son of Adam. But aren’t we all sons of Adam, you ask? Yes, however, I believe Luke mentions Jesus being the son of Adam for a few reasons, one of them being to recall the promise given to Adam about the promised offspring. The Gospel writers are giving us a hint at who this child is that was born and what He did. We see a foretaste of what is to come when Jesus in the Gospels heals the sick and casts out demons. He shows He has the power to defeat Satan and sin and the consequences of sin; He shows He is the promised offspring to Adam.
Significance: Without the destruction of Satan that Jesus brings, death, sin, and suffering continue. This truth from Gen. 3:15 is a sweet comfort to me. Jesus crushes Satan! All of us have cried at the loss of loved ones. All of us have seen the ravages of cancer. Cancer is a result of the fall and will one day be done away with because Jesus defeated Satan and sin and death!
Second, we see Jesus is the Promised Offspring of Abraham. And why is this important? To answer that question it’s important to look at passages like Genesis 22:17-18. Paul quotes from Genesis and says, “In your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gal. 3:16 cf. Genesis. 12:3; 18:18; 26:4). What blessing is being referred to? Well, truly an infinite amount but my mind goes to Ephesians 1:3ff (it is interesting that later on Paul talks about being one in Christ, this is because Christ blesses all nations, Jews and Gentiles, and they must be one).
Significance: Blessings to all nations flows from Jesus! He alone is the way the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father except through Him! Without Jesus the only option are curses…
Third, we see Jesus is the Promised Offspring of David. This is important because of 1 Chron. 17:10b-12 (cf. 2 Sam. 7:8-13):
“And I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house.  When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.
It strikes me as significant that there is even a book of “kings,” Israel was looking for one King, singular. And He does not come until the coming of Jesus.
Well, if the Kingdom has come where is it, you ask? It has indeed come but strangely it is not of this world. Jesus will return and He will smite any foes and then He will establish His eternal Kingdom on earth. John the Baptizer went about preaching, repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, and it is. But it has not reached its full fruition, yet! Jesus is coming soon!
Isaiah (living approx. 700 yrs. before Jesus) pulls it all together and says,
“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian [when Gideon had victory with an unexpectedly small army].
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” (Is. 9:2-7).
Significance: Jesus is coming back on a white horse to strike down His enemies and reign. Are you ready? A while back I went to Germany and to Dachau, Germany’s first concentration camp. We were told as we went through the camp how overjoyed the prisoners were to see their victors come and rescue them, though this meant death to many of the guards. There were graphic pictures of bodies both of prisons and guards…
For the prisoners in Dachau in order to be freed wrath had to be brought upon the Nazi soldiers. When God comes back to liberate the captors and establish His peace He must first utterly destroy any resistance. Will you be part of the resistance, resistance against the all-powerful God, or will you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and join His side?
So then, what affect does all this talk of genealogies, promises, expectations, and Christ have to do with Christmas? Well, everything. Christmas, means Christ’s mass. It means Christmas, everything about it is about Him, or should be. It is all about the coming of the Promised One. There are a lot of Scriptures that pointed to His coming and in Christmas we get to celebrate that He came.
We also get to celebrate all it means for us. So what do the three main points of this message mean for us? The fact that He was the promised offspring to Adam in Genesis 3:15 means He is the one that defeats the evil serpent in the garden. It means He, and He alone, brings blessing to the nations. He is the one that has provided the way back into the garden were we can once again enjoy pure fellowship with God where every wrong will be righted. It mean we can enjoy His forever Kingdom and reign of peace and prosperity. As the Christmas song “Joy to the World” so beautifully captures. There will indeed be joy to the world eternally for those in Christ.
“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.”
The fact that He was the promised one to Abraham means that it is through Him and Him alone that all the nations of the earth can be blessed! All people can come to Him as their Savior. You can come to Him as your Savior!
So, we see is that Jesus is the true King and that will set up His Kingdom. He shall reign and all will be perfect! That is what we all truly long for! Notice, what the King says to His Kingdom in the book of Revelation, “I am the root and descendent of David, the bright and morning star” (22:16). He, King Jesus, is saying as He said in 1 Chronicles 17 (and 2 Samuel 7), “I am going to come back and establish my eternal Kingdom.” And we in turn respond, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
Don’t leave Jesus in the manger this year! He did come and was born in a manger but there is more to it. As we celebrate Christmas we’re celebrating God become flesh, we’re celebrating the Promised One that will set up His eternal and righteous Kingdom!
 His marriage to Priscilla Mullins was the subject of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, “The Courtship of Myles Standish,” which although a classic has little factual basis. John and Priscilla were among the founders of the town of Duxbury. In his later years, John Alden was on many juries, including a witch trial—though in Plymouth’s case, the jury found the accuser guilty of libel and the alleged witch was allowed to go free. Plymouth Colony only had two witch trials during its history, and in both cases the accuser was found guilty and punished. (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Alden-63). The famous minister, John Cotton, performed John Alden’s funeral.
 However, it is important to first seek to answer why two different genealogies exist between Luke and Matthew. Well, obviously, we cannot say for sure, but we can give good explanations for why it is the way it is. There are three likely options. 1) Luke gives Mary’s genealogy (this would have been unprecedented but so of course was virgin conception) and Matthew gives Joseph’s, 2) Luke gives the actual human ancestry and Matthew gives the legal ancestry by which Jesus would be the rightful heir to David’s throne, or 3) a combination of the two with Mary and Joseph sharing a common grand-father (Blomberg, 53-54). Whatever the case we know there is a good explanation for the difference.