1The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. 3Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, 6Jesse the father of David the king.
David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. 7Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. 8Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. 9Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. 10Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. 11Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.
12After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, 14Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, 15Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,16Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
Lessons from Jesus’ Genealogy
Jesus the fulfillment of the O.T. prophesies and The Beginning of the New Creation
Matthew opens his book with the phrase biblos geneseos normally translated as the book of the genealogy of…. Matthew’s use of geneseos seems to echo Gen 5:1 which is about the creation of “man in his [God’s] own likeness”. The succeeding list of parental succession (vv.2-16) takes on a deeper significance when read in relation to Gen 5:1. In parallel to Gen 5:1, the simple genealogy of Jesus could very well be seen as a new creation, a new beginning — the re-creation of humanity in Jesus. In Jesus, the old nature began in Adam is renewed.
However, this new beginning or this re-creation of Humanity in Jesus the Christ (Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term Messiah), for Matthew, is not separated from God’s acts in the History of Israel. Jesus descended from that royal line-age of David, the greatest king in the history of Israel and from whom the expected Messiah was to spring forth. Equally important to this royal blood line is an insistence that Jesus is likewise an heir of Abraham to whom the promise of salvation was initially given. In this simple introductory remark of Matthew (v.1) is a summary of who Jesus is, — the fulfillment of the messianic prophesies of old, as well as the fulfillment of humanity’s re-creation.
The Universal Character of God’s Salvation in Jesus
From Abraham down to Jacob (vv.2-16) a formula very much consistent is used: x egennesen y generally translated as x is the father of y. This formula underscores the natural process of begetting children-–A father gives birth to a son. From Abraham (v.2) down to Joseph (v.16) then, all, and there is no exemption, was born through the normal process. However, in verse 16 this formula is not used. Instead of the expected Joseph-is-the-father-of-Jesus formula, there is an abrupt change to – Joseph, the husband of Mary…of her was born Jesus…. Here Matthew with a simple stroke of his pen gives a signal to his readers the un-naturalness of the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ entrance into the world is not of the natural order but is of divine. Matthew will explain this divine reality surrounding the birth of Jesus in the succeeding narrative (18-25).
Up until this point then, Matthew is telling us who this Jesus is all about: He is the Messiah of the Old Testament, He is of royal line-age, but he is of divine origin.
Paying closer attention to the detail of Jesus’ genealogy, one would have expected a rather sacrosanct and impeccable ancestry of Jesus. To one’s surprise the listing is almost a hodge-podge of all types of personalities, all kinds of eccentricities-–a mixture of good and bad people and most often the dominance of the latter. This is humanity to which Jesus, the Christ, is born into; this is humanity, at it’s best (?) or at its worst (?); this is the kind of people, God the Father is sending his very own son–-to save, to sanctify, to purify and once again make a people as a worthy offering to the Father.
Some Pointers for Homilies:
From this uncolorful listing of the genealogy of Jesus, great lessons, about who Jesus is, are hinted by Matthew.
- In Jesus a new story of creation is to start. In a way God reboots or reformats creation through the birth of Jesus. The story and history of sin will fade and the story of grace, and benevolence of God in Christ is dawning.
- Indeed, Mathew begins with almost the basic identification of Jesus: This Child is of the royal blood. He is a descendant of the greatest king of Israel–David. Jesus’ ancestral root paves the way for his being the promised Messiah.
- Through the use of the same genealogy, Matthew tells his audience that Jesus was a real person. He is a true Israelite without guise. He is not a phantom, he is not an invention of the imagination of his disciples. He was a true blooded Israelite, a descendant of Abraham who is the father of the promise of salvation.
- And finally, Matthew, by omitting the use of the formula x is the father of y i.e. Joseph is the father of Jesus, points to a different order of the conception of Jesus. Joseph is the real father of Jesus except in the order of generation.
- All kinds of people, great and small, black and white, sinner and saints, good and bad are called become brothers and sister of Jesus, called to become sons and daughters of the Father, called to the same holiness of life.