Matthew 1:16-19 – and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ. This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
Family, our first credential
Matthew wants us to know that Jesus had a family. He came from somewhere, humanly speaking. He did not just materialize out of heaven, but he joined a family. For Matthew, this is the first credential that Jesus had. Before he tells us of any miracle, or angelic announcement, we learn about his family.
At a human level, this is relevant. I am always interested to see how children are alike or different from their parents. As parents, we like this. My name is a combination of my two grandfathers, Joseph and Benjamin. When our two boys were born, I thought about giving them my name. But I thought that might be an unnecessary burden for them to bear as they became their own people. Benjamin got my middle name that was also the name of my father’s father. Zachary got my first name as his middle name. He is Zachary Joseph. In some ways they are like me, in other ways not.
The old saying is that kids will turn out to be quite like their parents in spite of efforts to train them right.
In Matthew, Jesus’ ancestry is traced by way of his father. The Jews were very strong in keeping record of their family tree. They knew which tribe they were from and could trace their ancestry all the way back. Here, it is used for the purpose of clearing up the ancestry of the Messiah. What Matthew records follows the same genealogy that is recorded in the book of Chronicles.
Matthew doesn’t say that Joseph was his father. In fact, even when mentioning Joseph, it says quite explicitly that Jesus was born of Mary. Yet Matthew traces the ancestry through Joseph because, as the oldest son, he was entitled to the benefits, such as they were. This traced his legal line to David.
Jesus’ lineage can be traced to David through both sides of the family.
In Matthew, it is the royal line through Solomon. In Luke, it is through another son of David’s named Nathan. Mary’s father, Heli, was a descendant of David by way of Nathan. Through Mary, the bloodline of David continues. Either way, Jesus is the son of David, who in turn had descended from Abraham.
Why is the family history important? Was Jesus the first Mormon? When he went to the Jordan, was he going to be baptized by John for all his relatives? No! There was another reason.
God had made some promises to both Abraham and David, and Matthew wants us to see that Jesus is the fulfillment of some of those promises.
God promised a blessing of the nations through Abraham family
Genesis 22:17-18 – “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies ,and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Psalms 89:3-4 – “You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.‘”
2 Samuel 7:12-13 – “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build.