Matthew 1 - Jesus is the Christ who was to come
The text that we read this morning will also be the text that we will consider for our Christmas Eve service.
Our text today is going to be Matthew 1:1 which says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
We will also consider Matthew 1:18-25,
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
The theologian, A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
We do not need to search long to discover what Matthew thought about when he considered God. In the very first chapter of his gospel we find that His mind would immediately think about Jesus Christ. From the very beginning of this gospel Matthew is bold, clear and unashamed to declare that Jesus is Immanuel – God is with us.
Dr. Steven Lawson said, “Who you believe God to be, what He is like, is the single most important factor in your life. High views of God lead to high and holy living. A high view of God leads to exalted, transcendent worship of God. But a low view of God will lead to low and base living.”
Matthew was a former tax collector. At one time he cared so much about amassing money at the expense of his countrymen that he was hated and despised by the Jewish people. But one day, while he sat at the tax collector’s booth, he met a man who called out to him saying, ‘Follow me’. In that moment, Matthew traded in his old life for a new life which would be characterized by a high and holy calling. Matthew traded in his lucrative business to become a worshiper of God.
Matthew could not be more clear about who we ought to think about when think about God. He testifies that Jesus is the Christ who has come to save His people from their sins. Jesus is the long-awaited king and deliverer.
Matthew, like the apostle John, takes every opportunity to boldly declare, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:1-4)
Matthew reveals his thoughts about Jesus so clearly when he divides Matthew 1 into two sections and begins each of the sections with a common theme – Jesus is the Christ.
In Matthew 1:1 he begins this gospel with these words, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ”.
In Matthew 1:18 he writes, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.”
Everything in this chapter, and everything in this entire gospel, is written to testify to the fact that Jesus is the Christ.
As we celebrate Christmas this week our thoughts are to be upon the person of Jesus Christ. As we reflect upon Jesus every one of us is to worship with a high and exalted praise. Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one. He is the long-awaited king and deliverer. He is the Son of the Living God. This was the message of all of the disciples as they went out at the risk of their own lives to declaring, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)
To that end, so that we can incline our hearts to worship Jesus this Christmas season as the Son of the living God, we turn our attention now to the Gospel of Matthew.
In this chapter we are given two namesfor the promised Christ: Jesus and Immanuel. This morning we will be primarily concerned with the name of Jesus. And at our Christmas Eve service we will consider the fact that Jesus is Immanuel, God is with us!
Jesus means, ‘Yahweh saves’. Matthew, the former tax collector, wants everyone to know that Jesus has come into the world to deliver His people from their sins. This is the greatest gift that anyone can receive because sin is our greatest danger. Sin brings upon us physical, emotional and relational death. Sin also brings upon us spiritual death. Sin separates us from God and if unresolved it will bring upon us the wrath of God.
The forgiveness of sins can only be received by those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There is no other name given among men by which you must be saved. (Acts 4:12)Matthew says this clearly when he writes, “She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (1:21) Jesus alone can save. Jesus alone can grant peace between God and His people.
You can imagine the gratitude that Matthew would have had towards Jesus when he came to realize that he had been saved from his sins. There must have been many days throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry when Matthew would learn something more about the grace of God that had reached out to him and saved him from his sins.
The words that Jesus spoke in Matthew 19:23-30 must have ingratiated Matthew to Jesus even more. One that day Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus continued, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew had been a rich tax collector at one time; could he be saved? I am sure that there were moments when Matthew struggled with giving up all that he had in this world to follow after Christ. All of us know what that struggle is like even in our own lives.
The disciples were astonished at this teaching and they said to Jesus, “Who then can be saved?”
Many of us find ourselves wondering at times if Jesus can save us? We have sinned so much. We have rebelled so greatly. We have disobeyed God so many times. Because of this we wonder, “Can God save someone like me?”
Jesus reply to this question ought to be such an encouragement to you and I. Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” When we get into the habit of looking at ourselves we could never believe that God would save us. But if we will look to Jesus and consider all that He accomplished for us we begin to realize that with God all things are possible.
In the first seventeen verses in Matthew’s gospel we are shown that God can do the impossible. Hew can preserve a righteous line through which the Messiah will come. He can preserve this line despite it being cluttered with sinful people and severe judgments and exile. God can save anyone. He can save the most unlikely people among us during the most unlikely of times. God can redeem the most desperate person among us. He can save the poor and needy who have nothing to give in return.
In this genealogy God can make barren women have children in their old age.
In this genealogy God blesses and gives the inheritance to the youngest and most unlikely person in the family. (Abraham, Jacob, Judah, David, Nathan)
In this genealogy we see that God honors women even though they were not respected and valued in their culture. Women at that time could not vote, they could not own property, they could not testify in a court of law. But Matthew makes clear that God saves women and uses them profoundly in His divine plan. He even saves women who were not originally from the lineage of Abraham like Rahab and Ruth. He uses women who have a sinful past. For example, one was a prostitute (Rahab) and two had engaged in adultery (Tamar, Bathsheba). And we see that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a poor girl living in the despised town of Nazareth. (John 1:46, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”) Yet, she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus.
In this genealogy not every king was good, noble, just and righteous. Jesus’ lineage reveals many wicked men (Raboam, Abijah, Joram).
In this genealogy we see that God can preserve His righteous line even through the captivity to Babylon which was a result of Israel’s great sin. God preserved His people through this captivity which many other nations were not preserved.
In this genealogy we see that God is breaking down barriers between male and female; Jews and Gentile; good people and bad people. All of us fall short of the glory of God and are justified by the grace of God alone.
This genealogy has forty-two generations of individuals and Matthew forms this list in such a way that this genealogy highlights three individuals: Abraham, David and Jesus Christ. The climax of this list is when Jesus Christ is born. Matthew presents the genealogy from Abraham to David, from David to the deportation of Israel into their captivity in Babylon, and from the Babylonian captivity to the birth of Jesus who is the Christ.
Matthew Henry summed up these sections of the genealogy the best by saying, “In the first fourteen, we have the family of David rising...in the second, we have it flourishing in the Mediterranean luster...in the third, we have it declining and growing less and less, dwindling into the family of a poor carpenter, and then Christ shines forth out of it, the glory of His people Israel.”
The genealogy in Matthew 1:1-17 is an important piece of evidence that is needed as Matthew tries to prove that Jesus is the promised Redeemer who was to come. Without it Matthew could not even begin to make the case that Jesus was the Christ. The king who was to come had to be of the lineage of David and the lineage of Abraham.
The other day I was talking to Jim Swanson about his father, Ralph, who passed away recently. He mentioned that because of COVID they were unable to be with Ralph as much as they would have liked .One of the things that they wanted to be able to do with him was to sit with him so that he could tell them about all of these people who are in old family photos. There are many in the photos that no one knows.
Now that Ralph has gone on to be with the LORD, the family may never know who some of these people are who are and what their lives were like. They are family members whose names and life stories will now be forgotten. There will be areal sadness and a real since of loss if they are not able to identify these people.
Things such as this happened throughout Israel’s history as well. For example, there were some Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity and they were unable to provide proof of their genealogy. As a result, they were considered unclean and they were excluded from the priesthood. We read of this in Ezra 2:59-62.
The following are those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-barsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers houses or their descent whether their fathers houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel; the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, 652. Also, of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barillai, the Gileadite, and was called by their name). These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.
Dr. Michael Green, in his commentary on Matthew, tells a fascinating story about Herod the Great and his reaction to not being able to trace his lineage back purely through Jewish genealogies. He writes, “Herod the Great was so embarrassed that, as half Jew, half Edomite, his name was not in the official genealogies, that he ordered their destruction, so that nobody could claim a purer pedigree than his own!”
I find it fascinating to consider that King Herod would roll over in his grave if he knew that decades after his death, Matthew would sit down and trace Jesus lineage back to Abraham who had received the promise that through him all nations would be blessed. (Genesis 12: 1-3; Genesis 15:5-6; Genesis 17:1-8)
What would have made this even more frustrating for Herod, is that not only did he try to destroy all records of the genealogy of the Jews, but he had tried to kill Jesus when he was only a baby. is Herod is the same man that we read about in Matthew 2 who became murderous when he heard that there was a child who had been born king of the Jews.
In Matthew 2: 16-18 we read, “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.’”
My friends, there is so much encouragement in all of this. The same God who preserved the righteous line through which He would fulfill His promise to provide a redeemer, is the same God who preserves you. The same God who preserved the lineage of Christ is the same God who knows every one of the names of His elect people and has these names written in the Book of Life to be preserved forever.
Psalm 112:6 - For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
Revelation 21:27 – But nothing unclean will ever enter it, not anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
The same God who preserved the baby Jesus from the evil intentions of king Herod is the same God who will deliver you safely into His eternal kingdom despite Satan’s best efforts to thwart God’s plan.
Paul displays this confidence in 2 Timothy 4:18when he says, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Jesus gives us such a confidence when he said in John 10:27-30, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
We began this sermon with a quote from A.W. Tozer who said, “What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” At Christmas, we have our lists, we have our agenda’s, we are well aware of our responsibilities. But in all of the business do not neglect to think long and hard about God. This is the most important thing about us.