Sermon – December 18, 2016
Matthew 1:1-17: Adventures in the Family Tree (mp3)
Introductions are important things. They set the place, time, themes, and genre of both literature and film. We typically gather a lot of information from them, even though we might not notice it. What does it mean, then, that Matthew’s Gospel starts with a genealogy? What does Jesus’ family tree tell us about the promised child, laying in a manger?
1. He is the Son of Abraham and David.
The most obvious answer to why Matthew included the genealogy is to make sure on the promise that Jesus was the long-awaited king. In order for this to be so, he needed to have a certain lineage, tracing his family back to David, and therefore, to Abraham. Matthew makes clear by his opening verse that Davidic lineage is the main point of the genealogy.
2. He is the Son of outcasts.
While tracing lineage back to David was of great importance, Matthew subtly drops hints that this is not all he is trying to do. Within the family tree, where men alone truly fulfill Matthew’s overall purpose, he oddly includes several women, and women who are of non-Jewish stock. These inclusions are not accidents on Matthew’s part, but reminders of just what type of Savior Jesus was always meant to be.
3. He is the Son of sinners.
While the women indicate something of God’s universal purposes, Matthew also drops hints as to the nature of the people God used to bring about his promises. These were not perfect men and women, a perfect lineage for a perfect child. But many on this list were deeply flawed and sinful. They were not just the misfits of society, but sinners before God. The saying is true, God does indeed use crooked sticks to make straight lines.
4. He is the Son of providence.
All of this shows the overwhelming hand of God. God has fashioned history for this child. Jesus is not the outcome of various and sundry happy accidents in history, a lucky coincidence that Christians enjoy today. Rather, the whole of history, both before and after Jesus’ birth and life, is focused upon him, and centers around him.
This week, as we prepare for Christmas, let us dwell on these facts. First, God clearly does not need perfect tools to bring about his desired will. God used Judah, David, and Eliakim to bring us Jesus; he can use you in his Kingdom as well. Secondly, dwell on just how important this child is. All the weight of history and redemption lies upon his shoulders, even as a child. How can a Jesus, able to carry that weight, fail you now? Will he not all the more finish the task he has started? Let this thought bring you great joy in this season: Christ has overcome!