If you would, open your Bibles to the first chapter of Matthew as we begin reading with verse one.
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. (Matthew 1:1-3 NASB)
Now let’s drop down to verse 15 and continue.
Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. (Matthew 1:15-16 NASB)
For those with the KJV or NKJV, we find the each of these men begot or begat their sons. Many of us have never used those words and for some they have no real meaning. However, we understand that someone is the father of someone else. So, we see that Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob and the list continues.
Yes, we skipped over several verses yet we certainly understand the history that is spelled out for us. There are times when I have referred to this section of scripture as a cure for insomnia. As we read through list of relatives in a family tree, our interest is often directly relative to the people we know. Even when considering our own family tree, once we get past our grandparents our interest soon fades.
When I have the opportunity to attend my family reunion, there are several volumes of family tree information. The person or people who compiled this data spent much energy to assemble several volumes of information about my ancestors. As I recall, their research goes back about 400 years.
It is amazing the amount of information that is available for me and others to read through. However, like most of my relatives, I gravitate toward those family members whom I recall and maybe look back one or two generations beyond my memory. The rest of the information holds little interest to me or others.
When we research our ancestors, we may find that some of our ancestors were historic heroes. We may find that some were less than stellar in their actions. For example, on my daddy’s side of the family, my granddaddy’s granddaddy was born in 1795 in Wales. He fled to America after he burned a tavern and killed 5 British officers. Colorful, yes, but not ideal example to inspire future generations. He lived to be 105 and died in 1900 after my granddaddy was born.
When we consider the genealogy of Jesus, as found in Matthew, we may see some surprises as well. Matthew and Luke both record the family tree of Jesus. Matthew traces the lineage from the perspective of Joseph (the husband of Mary). While Luke looks at the family tree from the perspective of Mary. The Jewish tradition for tracing ancestors focuses on males and not females. They are similar and there are a few differences. One traces from Abraham down to Jesus while the other traces from Jesus back to Adam to son of God.
As we read through the lists, we have a clearer view of Jesus as a human. Just as we might see various types of people in our family tree, we can see that Jesus has similar types of people in His lineage. Today, we will note that Jesus is the son of patriarchs, kings, sinners, and God.
First, we see Jesus as the son of patriarchs. A patriarch is the leader of a great family. Some of us may remember a father figure who was considered the head of the family. Perhaps families would gather around him on special occasions for meals or special times for the family and his presence was one of leadership and served as the glue for the family. He was revered within the family and possibly the neighborhood.
In the Bible we read of several men who fit the idea of patriarch. In Genesis the 12th chapter, we meet a man to whom God made a promise. His promise is to make this man great, to bless this man, and to bless all the families of the earth though him.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so, you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NASB)
This promise was made just a little over 2000 years before the birth of Jesus. It is a clear promise that a child of this family will be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, ties this promise to the Christ. The Messiah named Jesus.
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. (Galatians 3:16 NASB)
Jesus faced heavy opposition from the Jews when He told them that truth would make them free. Their response was that they were descended from Abraham and had never been slaves. The entire conversation may be found in John the 8th chapter. Finally, in the 51st verse, Jesus tells them that by keeping His word they would never see death. The Jews railed that Abraham and the prophets died and surely Jesus was not greater than Abraham.
Let’s look at the words of Jesus as He answered them.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So, the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:56-58 NASB)
Abraham was looking forward to the first Christmas. According to lineage, Jesus was the son of Abraham and the other patriarchs. Yet, as God, Jesus was the creator and thus father of those same patriarchs.
In essence, Jesus is father to all just as Isaiah prophesied.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NASB)
Second, we see Jesus as the son of kings. People who grow up in poverty are often obscure people. They are invisible to the world around them. No one seem to see or recognize them. Many of those people reflect back on their ancestors and find an element of pride where by they may have some dignity.
Mary and Joseph were no different. As we look at their lineage, they had a commonality They are remotely related to each other. Their lineage includes such notable kings as David and Solomon. When the Holy Spirit caused Mary to conceive Jesus, her son is the sone of kings.
The Magi knew that Jesus was born a king. Listen to their words as they made their journey to find Jesus.
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2 NASB)
The song asks the question Mary Did You Know? From what I read about this time and His birth; I truly believe she knew.
This child born that night to Mary, the son of kings, is revealed to John, on the Isle of Patmos, as king.
And on His robe and on His thigh, He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16 NASB)
Yes, Jesus is the son of kings while He is also lauded as KING OF KINGS. This child born in obscurity will return in wealth, power, and privilege of royalty. This is the son whose birth we celebrate.
Third, we see Jesus as the son of sinners. All family trees are likely to reveal those family skeletons that we wish were left in the closet. As I mentioned earlier, there is a murderous ancestor in my family tree. When we look at the ancestors of Jesus, we see the same thing.
In His ancestry, there are four women listed. This is not typical for Jewish lineage. Of these four women, consider three of them and their baggage. Bathsheba had an adulterous relationship with the king while her husband was away in battle. Rahab, according to the Holy Scripture earned her living as a prostitute. Tamar was not only guilty of adultery but incest when she had a child by her father-in-law.
Given a chance to omit these women from the ancestry record of Jesus would certainly add to the credibility of this child born to be king. Aside from these women, there were several men whose exploits were no less evil. Afterall, Bathsheba could not have sinned without David. However, God did not hide the fact that Jesus was born into a human family. His family is like yours and mine; it has good and bad people combining to make the family. There is a normalcy to the family into which this son is born.
Knowing the human nature of families, it is easier for us to identify that Jesus was the son of sinners. It is not hidden. Paul even tells us that Jesus was made human for our sake. It allows us to identify with Him and Him to identify with us. There is not a problem that we face that we cannot find a parallel in the family of Jesus.
He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)
Jesus, the son of sinners, went to the cross and overcame sin so that we could be made pure and righteous.
Fourth, and most importantly, we see Jesus as the son of God. Luke’s list of the ancestry ends with tracing Jesus back to …the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:38 NASB)
The story of the family of Jesus starts with nomads in tents and flows to the grand palaces of kings then to oppression and poverty. It is filled with love, romance, birth, death, war, peace, wealth, and poverty. In short, it covers every range of human experience.
This family tree that we find in Matthew and Luke cover over 2000 years and leads us to Bethlehem and that night when a son was born to the poor young girl named Mary.
All of the pieces of the puzzle were carefully and skillfully designed and put together by the master creator. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5 NASB)
Jesus Christ, the son of God, has come into this world to say to us that we can rise above it-that we have hope, that we have security, that we have a means to become citizens of the Kingdom of God. We don’t have to wait. We can live in His Kingdom today. We can do it, because the Son of Patriarchs, and the Son of Kings, and the Son of Sinners, is none less than the Son of God Himself. By His entrance into our world, He is inviting us to a better world, the one from which He came. He is the Son who came to save us.