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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 12/23/2015

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

MATTHEW 1:1-17

1An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, 4and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

17So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Genealogies rarely make for exciting reading, unless it's your own genealogy that you are reading (but even then you might get bored). Interest in genealogies across different cultures point to the belief that you are where you come from. That is, you are the product of your hereditary ancestry. Perhaps with the exception of Americans, hereditary family lines are thought of as a matter of great importance -- for matrimony, prospects for a happy life, wealth and status, and general station in life. Shows like Downton Abbey and novels like Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited trade on the public interest in the goings on of British aristocracy. Koreans have their version in the form of TV miniseries about certain dynastic families. Americans, on the other hand, eschew aristocratic entitlements and pretensions. Hard work, smarts, ingenuity, regardless of one's background, are the sorts of things Americans value. Democratic meritocracy over against aristocratic plutocracy. Abraham Lincoln is the iconic American hero. 


Jesus comes from a culture more similar to Brits and Koreans, rather than Americans. One's family line is important. Is it a kingly line? Is it a priestly line? (Hebrew kingship and priesthood followed patriarchal lineage, whereas there was no such as a "prophetic line" since prophets were called by God regardless of the person's lineage.) Jesus, we read, at the very beginning of Matthew's Gospel, is "the Messiah," "the son of David," "the son of Abraham."


Jesus is the "Anointed One" (i.e., Messiah). Each of the "son of" titles is a shorthand for covenant fulfillment. 2 Samuel 7:16 reads, "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever." Jesus comes to fulfill the Davidic Covenant: that YHWH will establish the Davidic reign forever. The Abrahamic Covenant comes from Genesis 12:2-3, "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Jesus fulfills the Abrahamic promise that all the peoples on earth will be blessed and that through faith in Christ all peoples will become children of Abraham. The fact that Jesus comes from these family lines validates His Messiahship. To be a son of David without actually being a "son of David" would have been impossible. 


But Jesus' line is not "pure." Jewish lines are patriarchal. In Matthew's genealogy five women are named: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (not directly named but referred to as "the wife of Uriah") and Mary. These women are outsiders. Three of them are Gentiles -- Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. The implicit message in this genealogy is that God's saving work is not limited to men and that God's saving grace extends beyond the people of Israel.


The Gospel of Matthew was written to a Jewish audience, so to begin the story of Jesus with His genealogy is fitting. But already at the very beginning the Great News of Salvation for All Peoples is hinted at from the list of names that compose the Savior's genealogy. 


Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you that you were born into the covenantal promises of your Father, that you were born as a son of Abraham and as a son of David in order that the promises made to Abraham and David would be fulfilled in You. Thank you for including all of us as recipients of your covenantal blessings. During this Christmas season, we find our salvation and peace in You and we pray that your great news of mercy be heard and received by countless around the world. In your name, amen.