Upon first opening the New Testament, we see in the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew a list of 42 curious names. This list, referred to as the genealogy of Jesus Christ, is often greeted by the reader with a quick scan, a brief look at some of the unfamiliar names, and a skip ahead to the next section.
Not so fast! While the first reading may not be the optimum time to delve into the list, there are many benefits to going back and following up on the rich stories behind each individual, as found in the Old Testament.
This genealogy is the royal lineage of the eternal king, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise that there will always be a king from the line of David on the throne of Israel into the Kingdom of Heaven (2 Samuel 7).
Here is a portion of Matthew’s version of the genealogy of Jesus:
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah…
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel…16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. Matthew 1:1-17 ESV (English Standard Version)
The genealogy can be divided into three sections, 1) the early fathers of the Jewish faith in the Lord, known as the Patriarchs, and their descendants up to the time of Israel’s King David, 2) the era of the kings of Israel, from David through Jechoniah, and 3) the governors of Judah, who fill the gap between the kings of Israel and the coming eternal King.
Notice that several women play key roles in the genealogy of the Christ. These include Rahab, Ruth, Tamar and Mary, Jesus’ mother. In addition, we will learn that Esther played a very key role in the preservation of the lineage.
The genealogy is a love story between God and His people. It is a story of preservation through hardship, of redemption and the offer of eternal life that is extended to all because of the genealogy and its Fruit, our Messiah.
Holy Spirit of God, be with us to teach us and guide us as we proceed through this study of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Help us to find new gold daily as we sift through Your precious word, and silver as You bring us new truths about Your desire to play a role in our daily lives. Amen.