Deacon's Desk

The Graceful God from the sinful genealogy…

Studying the genealogy of Jesus Christ is as an archaeologist troweling around a tomb, lifting up stones he finds warms, brushing away the dirt he finds few descent artifacts, indicating that something great could be found there! He keeps on excavating the site until he unveil the immaculate treasure!
This Graceful treasure: the free and unmerited favor of God was given to that line of Abraham and David to cleanse the generations before and after them from the ultimate sin and lift them up to righteousness. Jesus said: “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:13
I would like to start with a background about who was Matthew and how were the times when Christ was born; Palestine was under Roman domination. And there were many things about the Roman domination that were oppressive to all the people that lived in that region and among them were the Jews. One aspect of the oppression of Rome was the crushing taxation system. In the process of this tax collecting job, they use to hire slaves and countrymen from the nation as contractors whom were called publicans or better known as tax collectors or tax gatherers. And of course the people in the country would look at them as traitors, because they were gathering taxes from their own countrymen to give to people of a foreign nation, such as in the classic example of the man named Zaccheus, who had done this. Such publicans –tax collectors – were ranked with harlots. They were ranked with the heathen, the highwaymen, robbers, and murderers. So they didn’t run in very good company.
One of these publicans was a man by the name of Matthew – Levi. And as the story said in Matthew 9:9: “As Jesus passed forth from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting at the tax office; and He said unto him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose and followed Him.” And as simple as that Matthew the one known by people as a gouging criminal for the nature of his job, he rose and followed Jesus and he became the first of the twelve apostles to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the book of the Gospel.
The gospel of Matthew declares Jesus is the king and starts with the proof that he comes from the royal line, Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham, featuring the record of the genealogy.
There was a royal line in Israel, and it came through David. In 2nd Samuel chapter 7, God said through the prophet Nathan to David that it would be through the loins of David that the king would come who would ultimately reign in Israel and set up an eternal kingdom. That was never fulfilled in Solomon. And so they waited for one born of the seed of David to fulfill the prophecy. And so if Jesus is to be the king, it must be established that he has the right to reign because he descends from the genealogy of royalty.
Matthew 1:1-17 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac; and Isaac begot Jacob; and Jacob begot Judah and his brethren; And Judah begot Perez and Zerah of Tamar; and Perez begot Hezron and Hezron begot Ram; And Ram begot Amminidab; and Amminidab begot Nahshon; and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz of Rahab; and Boaz begot Obed of Ruth; and Obed begot Jesse; And Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam; and Rehoboam begot Abijah; and Abijah begot Asa; And Asa begot Jehoshaphat; and Jehoshaphat begot Joram; and Joram begot Uzziah; And Uzziah begot Joatham; and Joatham begot Ahaz; and Ahaz begot Hezekiah; And Hezekiah begot Manasseh; and Manasseh begot Amon; and Amon begot Josiah; And Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers, about the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah begot Shealtiel; and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel; And Zerubbabel begot Abihud; and Abihud begot Eliakim; and Eliakim begot Azor; And Azor begot Zadok; and Zadok begot Achim; and Achim begot Eliud; And Eliud begot Eleazar; and Eleazar begot Matthan; and Matthan begot Jacob. Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”
“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.”
So, why do we have to focus on this? First of all, the Jews were extremely firm about their pedigrees. And if anybody was going to be presented to them as a king, it was absolutely essential that he have the pedigree to prove it.
For example, when they came out of Egypt, after the conquering of the land of Canaan, it was essential to determine what your tribe, your family was and what your heritage was so that you knew where you were to live because the line of all the land was divided into tribes. So a pedigree was very important, tribal identification essential.
Another example, after the Babylonian captivity, at the end of the 70 years the people started coming back to Israel, many of them were claiming to be priests and they were claiming to be the tribe of Levi. Anybody who tried to play the role of a priest and wasn’t, was in great danger. For it says in Ezra 2:62 “These sought their registration among those who were reckoned by genealogy.” So they needed to know their pedigree for the exchange of land for their tribal location and for their priestly identification when they returned from captivity. This pedigree continues till the time Jesus was born, as we remember Joseph and Mary were going down from Galilee to the city of Nazareth, to Judea, which is the city of David to be registered according to their own ancestry in their own place because Joseph was of the house and lineage of David.
But all of this has changed today. Jews today have absolutely no record of their tribal ancestry. They can’t trace it at all. It is completely vanished. The writings of Josephus, the ancient historian describe the siege and destruction of the city of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. Orders were given by Titus Caesar to demolish the entire city and Temple, and it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation.
No Jew in the world today could ever prove himself to be a son of David! If anybody comes along claiming to be the Messiah, he’ll never be able to prove it. There are some Orthodox Jews who still believe the Messiah is going to come, but the problem is there will never be any lineal way to prove that. The fact is that: Jesus Christ is the last verifiable claimant to David’s throne. If he is not the Messiah, nobody else can ever lay believable claim to it.
This genealogy in Matthew is a descending record. It comes right on down from Abraham and David and descending down through Joseph to Jesus. While it is reversed in Luke chapter 3; it is an ascending genealogy. It starts with Jesus and goes back through Mary. So here you have a genealogy coming down through Joseph and there you have a genealogy going back through Mary. One begins with Jesus, the other ends with Jesus. It just goes both ways and it all comes out the same in the end. It’s the harmony of the original inspirer of the Gospel; the Spirit of God saying: Jesus is Lord and King.
So, Matthew is showing the legal descent of Jesus as the King of Israel. Luke is showing the lineal descent. In other words, Matthew shows us the royal line, whereas Luke shows us the blood line. While the royal line always was passed through the father, and since Jesus had no human father. So in order to have the blood line to reign, he had to be a descendant of David through his mother, as well. So through Mary and Joseph comes the line of David. Through Mary he has the blood of David, and through Joseph he has the right to reign, that belonged to David. Even though Joseph was not his father in terms of actuality he was his legal father. Joseph was not the father of Jesus in a human way. He was the husband of Mary. The Bible never calls Joseph the father of Jesus. Matthew 1:16 says: “Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus,” “of whom” in the Greek and the Aramaic is in the feminine gender. He was born not of Joseph. He was born of Mary.
So by righteous Joseph obeying the word of God through His angle and became Jesus’ legal father, and since he was through the line of Solomon, David’s son. Also, Mary was through the line of Nathan, who is another son of David. Thus, both of them of the seed of David and both of them were passing on royal blood. That makes Jesus the actual seed of David through Mary and He is the legal heir of David through Joseph.
Now to show how clear and perfect this fulfillment is, let us focus on Matthew 1:11 “Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brethren, about the time of the Babylonian captivity.” We recognize this name Jeconiah whom Joseph is from his line and we read Jeremiah 22:30 “Thus says the Lord, ‘Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; for no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’ ” That was the curse on Jeconiah, none of his offspring will ever sit on the throne of David. Now if Jesus had been the real son of Joseph, he never could have sat on the throne of David. He would be under the curse. And yet, he had to be the legal son of Joseph to have the right. So God had to devise a plan by which he would be the legal heir to the throne, but that he would not be in the line of David descending through Jeconiah. And so God did it by the virgin birth, bypassing the actual blood line of Jeconiah and yet carrying the royal right to reign and descending the blood through the side of Mary.
Let us highlight the following sinner’s line to complete drawing the graciousness of God in this genealogy and to focus on His great love to humanity:
Abraham lied about his wife in Egypt and brought them both into shame. Abraham who disbelieved God. Abraham who committed adultery with Hagar. Abraham, again at Gerar, lied about Sarah and gave her to the king as if she was his sister. A sinner and his seed was the Son of God. That is grace.
David the polygamist, who was sexually tormented and a rotten father. David Who sinned so vilely with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah murdered. David, who slaughtered multitudes of humanity, so many that his hands were too bloody to build the temple of God. A sinner and his seed was the Son of God. That’s grace.
Tamar in Genesis chapter 38, a dishonorable story with Judah. Harlotry and incest! Out of that conception came twins, Pharez and Zarah; who are the next people in the genealogy of the line of the Messiah.
Rahab in Joshua chapter 2, the harlot! Rahab was a Canaanites, unclean, outcast, Gentile, pagan, idolatress, a bad lady, a professional prostitute. “And Salmon begot Boaz of her” in Matthew 1:5. Boaz who was a godly man and that’s grace.
Ruth; even though she was a pure lady and the wife of Boaz and she became the grandmother of David, but she was born of incest. She was a Moabite, a descendent of Moab, a son of incest, who was born from Lot and his daughter, and the whole nation was cursed by God. Deuteronomy 23:3
From two sinful men, two harlots, one born out of incest, and an adulteress, from this line of sinners God decided to show His grace and to be born of a virgin called Mary, who was born from sin, but pure Mary made the difference by saving her soul and the souls of generations to come when she said: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:38, 46-47
To be able to present to you well documented facts, I had to spent considerable amount of time reading and researching through references such as historians, scholars, theologians and bishops whom in their turn spent considerable amount of time to research the facts… but for the Jewish people back then this was all in their hands, it was their daily studies and they knew it by heart, this is why Matthew inspired by the Holy spirit started with the genealogy of Jesus, that they knew very well, to remind them of the obvious truth that Jesus the one they rejected and killed was in fact the promised Messiah that they were waiting for.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

Deacon Michel Samuel Massoud