• John Lenschow

Jesus' Family Tree

Preparation for his Birth

Day 9 Monday, December 7th

Matthew 1:1-16, emphasis on 1:1-6, 16

1. Recognize the Context:

Literary context:

Long before 23andme.com and ancestry.com, ancient civilizations would keep a written record of ancestry. We find this to be the case throughout the Bible.

But most Bible readers today struggle with the relevancy of biblical genealogies and gloss over them. Here in Matthew, we have a list of names, most we can't pronounce and only some we are familiar with, based on our knowledge of the Old Testament. In the ancient Near East and for the Jews during the time of Jesus, genealogies provided several purposes.

1. They served as a family record substantiating a person's ancestry.

2. They identified a person's inheritance rights.

3. They settled political disputes over the rightful heir to a kingdom or dynasty. Therefore, the genealogies were extremely significant.

2. Read the Scripture: Matthew 1:1-6, 16

1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

4 Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba),

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

3. Reflect on the Scripture:

Jesus’ genealogy has at least two distinct features. First, in verse 1, Matthew introduced Jesus with the same vocabulary found in Genesis 2:4 and 5:1 used in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, known as the Septuagint (sep-too-uh-jint). Genesis 2:4 identified the beginning or account of God’s creation, and Genesis 5:1 introduced the beginning of humanity with the first genealogy in the Bible. For Matthew, Jesus’ ancestry was established as a Son of David and Son of Abraham. However, Jesus also represented a new beginning. This new beginning had continuity with God’s saving work in the past, and it can be linked back to the opening chapters of Genesis.

A second unique feature of this genealogy was the mention of four women and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Although not unprecedented (1 Chron. 2:4, 3:5), it was extremely rare to find women mentioned in genealogies. Additionally, since these women were not Israelites, it’s shocking that they were identified in Scripture at all.

-Tamar was a Canaanite who seduced her father-in-law Judah (Gen. 38).

-Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho who helped God’s people (Joshua 2:1-21).

-Ruth was a Moabite woman, and Moabites were a despised people group (Deut. 23:3, the book of Ruth).

-Bathsheba was a Hittite woman who committed adultery with King David (2 Samuel 11).

So why the deliberate mention of these four women? At least one of Matthew’s goals was to open the reader’s eyes to the unique ways God has worked in the past to accomplish his purposes, using the least likely candidates by the "world's standards." Knowing this helps to prepare the way for the unique coming of the Messiah, in an unlikely and unexpected manner: Born of the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:23, Isa. 7:14).

4. Relate to life:

Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.

To pray:

Today, prayerfully consider what this genealogy reveals about God’s love and desire to reach sinful humanity.

Prayerfully reflect on the ministry of Jesus and his desire to reach “sinners.” Consider the people he encountered in the Gospels.

Today, prayerfully consider how you can reflect this ministry of Jesus to those around you.

To do: (Actions with the Holy Spirit's help)

Given the prayer suggestions above, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, co-workers.

Be specific and write it down.

To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)

Take some time this Advent to read through the Gospels and reflect on the ministry of Jesus. Make a list of the “sinners” he encountered. Write out the acts of love and compassion he showed them.

Luke emphasized the involvement of women in the life and ministry of Jesus. Read Luke 2:36-38; 7:11-17; 7:36-50; 8:1-3. Go through Luke and the other Gospels and look for other examples.

Read and reflect on the call of Matthew (Matt. 9:9-13). What does this passage reveal about the character of Jesus and the nature of his ministry?

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