Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sermon / Homily on St. Matthew 1:1-17

Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man - A Sermon Based On Matthew Chapter 1:1-17

by Pastor Tim Henry

It's easy sometimes, I think, as we read through the word of God, whether it's the Old Testament or the New Testament, is to skip past the difficult passages; especially those long lists of names.

Has anyone just passed right by a section or a few chapters because it just seemed so boring or repetitive? I certainly have. There big chunks of Numbers and Leviticus and Deuteronomy that are that way. 9 Chapters of 1 Chronicles are all names. And the books of Matthew and Luke both start with genealogies.

These sections are rarely read publicly and especially out loud. For one thing, no one really knows how all the names are pronounced. Even the best biblical scholars differ in their opinions, and at the end on the day we can only do our best, but we can really struggle with them. And even if we can sound out the English versions of these names and lists, the task often seems tedious, and there seems to be little to be gained from reading these things.

So we skip them. It's only natural. But something to remind ourselves, and hopefully we'll see some evidence of this today, and as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, 2 Timothy chapter 3 tells us: all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. It's profitable for many things, Paul says to Timothy that it's profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness - so we must conclude that no matter how difficult the passage or the reading might be, or no matter how little spiritual truth or insight we may think there is in certain verses or chapters, all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable.

Do we agree that all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable?

If we do, we're starting off on the same page together, because one of the tasks I have set myself to do in ministry is step up to the challenge of studying and preaching from the whole bible, from IN THE BEGINNING to the last word of revelation. There's 1189 chapters in the bible, many of which would take more than one week to cover to be fair to the material, so to read each one aloud with a short message or discussion, would take about 25 years, one Sunday morning at a time.

That's a lot of time, no matter how you slice it, and I think that might contribute as well to why churches and individuals just SKIP PAST the boring parts. The standard church bible reading calendar or lectionary covers the bible in 3 years and leaves out 80% of the text. A significant number of books of the bible are not read from at all in many churches.

Today, we're not going to skip past one of those spots, but I am going to cheat a little. I have a device on my computer called a proclaimer that reads the bible verse by verse, word by word. We have some information about this device and how it is being used by missionaries all around the world to bring God's world to people in the remotest places in hundreds and hundreds of languages. They have battery operated, solar and hand-cranked versions of "proclaimer", so it's great for spreading the Good News to children and people who don't read, as well as people who do not have electricity. I'm really excited about this mission tool, and can tell you more about it. It's the first time we've used it here in church this church, but I think it's helpful to hear the words pronounced as those who have studied such things feel they should be pronounced.

[From The CEV - Contemporary English Version]

1 Jesus Christ came from the family of King David and also from the family of Abraham. And this is a list of his ancestors. From Abraham to King David, his ancestors were:

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and his brothers (Judah's sons were Perez and Zerah, and their mother was Tamar), Hezron;

Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Obed (his mother was Ruth), Jesse, and King David.

From David to the time of the exile in Babylonia, the ancestors of Jesus were:

David, Solomon (his mother had been Uriah's wife), Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram;

Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, and Jehoiachin and his brothers.

12-16 From the exile to the birth of Jesus, his ancestors were:

Jehoiachin, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim;

Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, and Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

17 There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were also fourteen from David to the exile in Babylonia and fourteen more to the birth of the Messiah.

These verses of Scripture trace the ancestry of our Lord Jesus Christ right back to David the King, and they connect our Lord Jesus with all of the prophecies of the Messiah that are given in the Old Testament Scriptures.

But why, I'm sure your asking yourself, are these genealogies and names given at the very beginning of Matthew's gospel?

Matthew and Luke are the only two gospels that record the birth of Jesus. They each take a different approach to telling the same story. Luke tells the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah and the birth of John the Baptist. Luke tells us about Mary, the Heavenly Host, the Shepherds and the dedication of Jesus in the temple. Matthew focuses on Joseph, the visit of the Magi and the murder of the children in Bethlehem by Herod. Each writer has a different emphasis.

Matthew wrote primarily to Jews. From the very beginning he said, "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham". Right from the start Matthew is trying to show that Jesus is the One the Jews have been waiting for. He wants them to understand that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Throughout his account of the birth of Jesus he turns back to various fulfilled prophecies pointing to the validity of Jesus' claim as Savior and Lord.

The genealogies in the Gospels are really quite important. A person's family line was very important in the Jewish world of Jesus' day. Your family line was how you verified your Jewish heritage. The family line was important for knowing who could serve as a priest. Practically, these records were also important if you wanted to but or sell property in Israel. There were strict laws that said land could not be bought or sold across tribal lines. If you were of the family of David, the family line showed the "right of succession" when the throne of David would again be established.

Matthew shows us that Jesus was legally in the Kingly line of David. He had a claim to the throne of David. Matthew is careful not to make the claim that Jesus was actually the biological son of Joseph, rather he says, "Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

Matthew established the legal claim to the throne that Jesus had.

Throughout the Old Testament there were many promises of a coming Messiah. In Genesis 12:3 Abraham was promised that through him "All the families on earth will be blessed through you." In other words, one of Abraham's descendents would bring blessing to the entire world.

In Genesis 49:10 Jacob told Judah that "the scepter would not depart from Judah". The descendents of Judah would be the leaders of Israel.

In 2 Samuel 7:13-16 David (from the tribe of Judah) is told that God had chosen Solomon to succeed him. God promises that He will establish his kingdom forever.

In Isaiah 9:7 we are told that the Messiah "will reign over the house of David forever". The coming Messiah would be a descendent of David, through Solomon, and would have an eternal reign.

These promises are all fulfilled in Jesus. He was the one who was promised. The genealogy shows us that Jesus met the prerequisites to be the Messiah.

It doesn't prove He IS the Messiah, only that he meets the standard of prophesy.

Throughout the rest of the Gospel, Matthew sets out to show that Jesus was indeed different from all the others who could claim the throne. He alone was the true Messiah.

What else can we conclude from this often skimmed-by passage of Scripture, this geneology?

First. God is in control of Human History.

Throughout the years God never forgot His promise to Abraham, Judah, David or Isaiah. When God identified where Jesus would be born (in Isaiah & The Psalms), and when he would die (in Daniel), it showed that Jesus came to the world according to God's timetable.

As we look at the world around us, I think we need this reminder, this assurance.

In the news, we see ever changing moral values that seem out of touch with what God desires, we face uncertain economic times, weather disasters, and a sometimes volatile political environment and it's easy to get discouraged and conclude that things are out of control.

They are not out of control. God knows what he is doing and has a plan. He is leading history to its proper conclusion. We may not see how God is working, but He is.

The fulfilled prophecies shown in this list of names remind us that God keeps His Word. He promised that Christ would come, and He did. He has promised that Christ will return and He will. We must never forget that even though Jesus fulfilled the many prophecies related to His birth, many if not most people missed His coming. All their lives they asked God to send the promised Messiah. When He arrived, they could not see Him!

How different is that today?

People will say "I have been searching for God. I have been asking God to show me the truth. I will believe, if only I could be sure of the truth."

Guess what?

Here He is! The Christ.

Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies that were spoken hundreds or thousands of years before His birth! God came to earth as man and gave His life for you and me.

Christ is the truth we have been searching for.

From John 1

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn't recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn-not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.

What else does this list of names tell us?

It's a list of God's family. And we're on the list, too.

In his book Connecting, Larry Crabb writes:

A friend of mine was raised in an angry family. Mealtimes were either silent or sarcastically noisy. Down the street was an old-fashioned house with a big porch where a happy family lived. My friend told me that when he was about ten, he began excusing himself from his dinner table as soon as he could without being yelled at, and walking to the old-fashioned house down the street. If he arrived during dinnertime, he would crawl under the porch and just sit there, listening to the sounds of laughter.

When he told me this story, I asked him to imagine what it would have been like if, [instead], the father of the house somehow knew he was huddled beneath the porch and sent his son to invite him in. I asked him to envision what it would have meant to him to accept the invitation, to sit at the table, to accidentally spill his glass of water, and hear the father roar with delight, "Get him more water! And a dry shirt! I want him to enjoy the meal!"

We don't have to hide under the porch! The Father knows where we are and invites us in. We are invited to take our place with Abraham, Isaac, David, Zerubbabel, Joseph, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba and the billions of countless others on and off this list that share eternity together who have made a mess of things from time to time.

From Matthew 18

12 "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn't wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish.

We live our lives every day seeking the approval of others. We try to impress them, please them, and achieve their expectations for us. It's an exhausting and never-ending struggle. God does not offer us approval . . . He offers us forgiveness and new life.

An ad in a newspaper read: "We cater to Clutter. Dependable house, apartment or business cleaning."

That's was God does.

He offers eternal salvation to the clutter, the messy, the lost. Not the perfect. Not to those who think they have already made it. Not to those who don't need help.

God takes the outcast, the imperfect, the unfaithful, other words, He takes US and transforms US and gives new meaning to OUR lives, for His glory.

That's why Jesus came. That's why he's listed by name with other human beings.

Christ is God. Christ is US.

Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the son of man. Both aspects were and are vitally important truths.

Jesus was not just a ghost, as some early believers taught, He is Almighty God in breathing, laughing, walking, weeping, bleeding human flesh.

In Chapter 22 of Matthew and verse 42. The Lord Jesus posed this question to the Jews: 42 "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They replied, "He is the son of David."

God has left no room for any other man to claim to be the Christ, absolutely no room.

No wonder the Lord said: 'Many shall rise and call themselves Christ, but it will all be unfounded'.

Man would say: 'It's an impossibility', but God brings all these impossibilities together as the angel told Mary, "Nothing is impossible for God."

Galatians 4:4 says: 4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law."

Now you might be asking yourself...This list starts with Abraham. What about before Abraham?

Jesus said "Before Abraham I AM"

Revelation 1

8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega-the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. "I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come-the Almighty One."

John 1

...[the] Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, "Who are you?"
20 He came right out and said, "I am not the Messiah."
21 "Well then, who are you?" they asked. "Are you Elijah?"
"No," he replied.
"Are you the Prophet we are expecting?"
22 "Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?"
23 John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:

"I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
'Clear the way for the Lord's coming!'"

17 There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were also fourteen from David to the exile in Babylonia and fourteen more to the birth of the Messiah.

He is here! He is alive. Alleluia!


2008 Timothy Henry

See Also:

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the Sunday Before Christmas (Genealogy of Jesus Christ)

Malankara World Christmas Supplement (additional Sermons, articles, devotionals, etc. on Christmas)

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