“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”-Matthew 1:1
I wish my memory would allow me to name the person who first suggested a study of the opening and closing verses of Bible books to me. It has been a most profitable tip for studying God’s word. How many times did I skip over the, “Paul to the church at…” or “Peace be with you” sections of New Testament epistles so I could get to the important, doctrinal stuff?!?! “Thank you God!” Someone corrected this oversight in my study. It has literally changed my Christian life. The words “grace and peace” have more meaning. The first five verses of Romans are now at the top of my list of Scriptures from which to teach the gospel. And this approach led me to rethink the first chapter of the New Testament.
Matthew begins his gospel with the family tree of Jesus. It seems like a tedious proof text of our Savior’s bona fides. But it is much more than just a list of the qualifications to be the Messiah. Let’s take a look at the beginning of Levi’s list.
Christ: Right out of the box, Matthew declares Jesus to be the Christ. The word Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew term Messiah. They both mean, “the anointed one.” The Jews were anxiously awaiting this chosen one of God whose, “kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,”-Daniel 7:27. The religious leaders of the Jews were looking for the coming of the Messiah (John 10:24), but they rejected Jesus as the Christ and crucified him instead. God announced to the world, that Jesus is the Messiah by raising him from the dead (Acts 2:32-26; Romans 1:4). Matthew calmly asserts the truth of God. Jesus is the Messiah. He had the lineage God promised he would have.
Son of David: Next, the apostle makes Jesus’ claim to royalty. God had promised king David he would always have a son on the throne of Israel (later Judah). The Lord saw this promise through in the books of Kings and Chronicles. The king over Jerusalem had to trace their family line to David. The genealogies presented in Matthew and Luke serve as public evidence that Jesus had the right to be king because he, “was descended from David according to the flesh”-Romans 1:3.
Son of Abraham: These three words tell an amazing story. Matthew wrote to people who knew the Scriptures. Luke takes his genealogy all the way back to Adam to declare Jesus to be a Son of God (Luke 3:38), because he is writing to an audience of mainly Gentiles. To the Jews for whom Matthew writing, the phrase “son of Abraham” is all they need to know. The rest they have read from a scroll of Genesis. To both Jews and Gentiles, this son of Abraham was promised to be the one man in the history of the world through whom, “all the nations of the earth be blessed,”-Genesis 22:18. Paul certifies what Matthew claims in the first verse of his history of Jesus. The Holy Spirit proclaims, if you are baptized in the name of Jesus, “then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”-Galatians 3:29.
What a blessing in one, short verse. This poor, peasant from Nazareth (so they thought) was really the anointed one of God. He is declared to be king because he descended from David of whom God said, “your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”-II Samuel 7:16. The promised son of Abraham shed a blessing on the world more precious than rubies or gold (I Peter 1:18-19). Praise God he chose Jesus to be anointed with the Spirit (Matthew 3:16; 12:18)! What a blessing it is to have an eternal king (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:13)! Thank you, Lord, for the precious, promised gift of Jesus, “that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”-Acts 2:21!! Not bad for one overlooked sentence.