The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1 KJV
It’s easy to think of the Christmas story simply as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus nestled closely together in a crowded barn with shepherds gathering to worship the newly born King. And while this is a beautiful, and perhaps the most entertaining part of the story, it is not the complete story. The whole story of Christmas actually started long before Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem.
As you prepare for Christmas this year, look at the first chapter of Matthew which opens with a short genealogy of Christ. Take a moment and reflect on its historical and spiritual significance to the complete Christmas story (and to you personally). The genealogy in Matthew isn’t just a list, it’s a glimpse at the enormity of God’s salvation plan revealed through generations in the promise of Christ.
Five Things to Know About Matthew’s Genealogy of Christ:
- Messianic and Covenant Promises Fulfilled in Jesus
“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” – Matthew 1:1
By tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to King David, through the line of the Davidic kings, the author of Matthew connects Jesus with His royal heritage. The purpose is to show that the messianic promises made to David’s family and the covenant promises made to Abraham are fulfilled in Jesus.
- The Promise of Jacob Fulfilled – Leadership Through Judah
“Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;” – Matthew 1:2
Judas is the Greek form of Judah, the father of the tribe so named. The promise of Jacob was that the leadership of the 12 tribes would come through Judah (Gen. 49:3-12).
- The Genealogy Is Deliberately Uncustomary
Matthew 1:3-8 includes four women of “questionable” qualification into Jesus’ genealogy (Thamar, Rachab, Ruth, and Bathsheba) in addition to Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. It was not customary to list the names of women in a genealogy; therefore, the inclusion of these names was deliberate on the part of the author. Christ is a gift to all.
- The Genealogy of Joseph
The genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew is that of Joseph, Jesus’ legal father, whereas the genealogy of Luke 3:23-38 is that of Mary, Jesus’ actual parent, showing His bloodline back to David.
- The Emphasis of the Virgin Birth
“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” – Matthew 1:16
The wording of Matthew 1:16 carefully avoids giving the impression that Joseph was the natural father of Jesus. As the husband of Mary, he was Jesus’ legal father and the one through whom He had a right to David’s throne. Every emphasis of the text at this point reinforces the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ.