Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Devotional: The Family of the King, Matthew 1:1-17

Outline of Matthew 1.1-17

In each Gospel the writer lays out his purpose in his introduction. Mark identifies Jesus as Son of God, Messiah and Savior and then proceeds to prove it inductively. Luke declares his intention to provide an orderly account of Jesus’ life. John begins before creation and identifies Jesus as God come in the flesh, the Logos, the ordering principle of the universe, come to live with us in a human body. Matthew begins with a genealogy. It seems odd to us, but Matthew’s purpose can be seen quite clearly. He begins with a genealogy to show basic truths about Jesus' mission: He came as the culmination of God's plan for Israel to bless the entire world. The genealogy shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to bless all the world through his family and the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant which promises that God would bring a ruler from the family of David who would usher in a new covenant which will result in the defeat of evil and death and produce a new earth fully joined to heaven and in alignment with God’s purpose to bring peace and blessing to the world. It is a kingdom which includes all nations but presents Jesus as the embodiment of Israel  who fulfills everything God planned to accomplish through them. Matthew presents Jesus as the coming king of Israel who brings the kingdom of heaven to earth and invites everyone, men and women, Jew and Gentile, “bad and good,” to join him, worship him, and live according to the values of his kingdom and be part of his family.

The genealogy is arranged in three blocks of fourteen, leaving out several generations, to make his point. 14 doubles seven, the number of completion. At the beginning of each set of 14 is a key figure who represents a major step in God’s plan to redeem and renew the world. Abraham received God’s covenant that promised blessing to the world through his family. God would make him into a great nation that would be the vehicle of God’s revelation of himself to the world..The second group of 14 begins with David through whom God narrowed the promise to an individual, a Messiah/King who would unite the kingdoms of heaven and earth into one. God’s temple would be with people. The second section ends and the third section begins with the exile which highlights the nation’s failure to do this. The final section of the genealogy ends with Jesus who fulfills God’s purpose through Israel to reveal God to the world and bring his blessing to all nations. He fulfills God’s purpose through David to build a “temple” where God can dwell with his people. Jesus is the temple made “without hands” to provide the way for holy God to dwell bodily within his creation. Jesus has the both the pedigree and the resume of a king we should all want to follow.

One oddity in the genealogy is the inclusion of four Gentile women and some unsavory characters. The Bible does not hide the fact that Jesus’ family has some “skeletons in the closet.” Right up front Matthew is telling us that Jesus’ kingdom is universal and open to all genders and nationalities. Jesus’ kingdom is not a kingdom “of this world” that operates by exclusion or coercion. He breaks down the barriers our sinful cultures have erected to keep us apart from God and from each other. Jesus connects with sinners and transforms them into citizens of the kingdom of heaven. He then calls his followers to go out and “make disciples” in the same way.

Thus, the Gospel of Matthew provides us a with a promise and a challenge. The promise is that all of us can now experience the “shekinah” the light and fire of the presence of God which indwelt the tabernacle and indwells each believer through the Holy Spirit. This demands a response from us of full commitment to him, despite the fact that in this present age we will experience similar rejection and persecution that he suffered. But we do this knowing that the full expression of his kingdom is coming and that Jesus promises “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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