O, What a Line!
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Jesus Messiah, Son of David...King! Christmas, 2018..
What do you enjoy reading in your leisure time? What oft captures my attention are the stories about people from the obituaries and wedding pages of newspapers, which ironically have something in common-noteworthy links to famous ancestors.
Ancestors. A whole industry has grown up around ancestry these days, and genealogy work has become very important to folks for a myriad of different reasons. For the Jewish people, family history has always been critical as it proved one's identity as a Jew, a partaker of the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and part of the people chosen by God.
The gospel of Matthew was written with a Jewish mindset, and the intent to establish to the Jewish people that Jesus was the exact fulfillment of all the prophetic words spoken in the Old Testament.
For more on prophecies about Jesus:http://pastorwoman.com/ReadArchive.aspx?id=2811, most of these given hundreds of years beforehand.
Still, of all the ways to begin his gospel, seems crazy that Matthew would start with begats and begots in 17 verses of mostly unfamiliar names that are difficult to pronounce! Why start the gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - with a family tree? Simply, the bloodline of Jesus Christ was critical to establish him as the long-awaited Messiah. To be in the royal line, Matthew had to show Jesus' relationship to David, the King of Israel; to be in the Hebrew line, had to trace back our Lord to Abraham.
Messiah and Christ have the same meaning, ' 'anointed';
Messiah is Hebrew, Christ is Greek.
Knowing genealogies were very important to the Jewish people, Matthew's intention was to prove that Jesus was not just Jewish, but he was the fulfillment of all of the prophecies made in the Old Testament to the Jewish people of the Messiah God would one day send.
Matthew traced Jesus' family tree back to Abraham, and then King David; in fact, many times in the gospels, Jesus is referred to as Jesus, Son of David. Why? David was God's choice for the king of Israel, while Jesus was the King of Kings! Jesus was the one who had been promised, the very one the people had been hearing about for hundreds of years.
"So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations." Matthew 1.17 Jesus the Christ. Genealogy. Bloodline. Family tree. Ancestry. And legitimacy.
A baby foretold of 700 years before by Isaiah is to be born; the star has moved into the Bethlehem sky - all is aligned. Jesus had the perfect lineage, with all of the ancestry to back up the prophetic.
As for Matthew . . . remember this was not a real-time report by him; the gospel of Matthew is believed to have been written in the 80s to 90s,* first century.
While we wonder how so many of the first-century Jews missed the Messiah, we fail to realize that they were not holding printed genealogical accounts, tracing Jesus to King David or even further back, to Abraham; they were not holding the written gospels or eye witness accounts which we can easily access in various translations.
While Jesus' teaching, love, miraculous works, crucifixion and certainly his resurrection(!) spoke mightily to the people of his day, we hold the accounts of all of those events-including the records of Jewish historian, Josephus, and first century Roman historian, Tacitus--plus the written prophecies, and hundreds of years of other corroborating evidence. Yes, there is the archaeological evidence too - places that have been excavated that bear witness to real people referenced in New Testament accounts - so truly, we have all of the ability to see that Jesus was the Christ, our Messiah.
So, what? So you and I have every reason to light our trees, sing 'Joy to the World', serve others in the name of Jesus, and wish a 'Merry Christmas' . . . we love and serve the legitimate Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Jesus, the promised Messiah. O, what a line!
*-Boston College, www.bc.edu/…/resour…/.../intro/the_dating_of_thegospels.html
The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey - a must read