The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Note some points in the genealogy of our Lord.
I. Amongst those whom St. Matthew records as the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, there are only four female names introduced, and they are precisely those four which a merely human historian, anxious to throw in everything which might seem to be to the honour of Christ, and to omit everything which might seem to detract from that honour, would have been desirous to have passed over in silence. The persons whose names are given are Thamar, Rahab, Ruth (a Moabitess), and Bathsheba. One thing is clear, that there was no thought in St. Matthew's mind of throwing any false lights upon his Lord's history and character; and another thought might have been in his mind, which led him to set down these names,—the wonderful manner in which God brings His own purposes about by means which seem at first sight to be as little conducive to them as possible, how through the apparent confusion of history, blotted by human sin, the thread of His providence remained unbroken, and connected him to whom the promises were made with Him who was the promised seed.
II. Jesus is declared by St. Matthew to be the Son of David, and therefore a member of the royal tribe of Judah, not of the priestly tribe of Levi. Christ came as a priest, but more particularly He came as a king; that which He preached from the first was a kingdom.
III. The genealogies both of St. Matthew and St. Luke trace the descent of our Lord, not through Mary His mother, but through Joseph, His reputed father. The lineage of Joseph would be legally the lineage of Jesus, his reputed Son, and on that account the Evangelists could not well have done otherwise than give his pedigree and not that of Mary; and yet it cannot but appear remarkable, that the lineage of our Lord should be in fact no lineage at all, that, like His type Melchisedec, He should be without descent. The great fact in the lineage of Christ is not that He was the Son of David, but that He was the Son of man.
Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, 3rd series, p. 183.
References: Matthew 1:1.—C. Girdlestone, Twenty Parochial Sermons, 2nd series, p. 1; Bishop Alexander, Leading Ideas of the Gospel, p. 1; Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 329; A. Blomfield, Sermons in Town and Country, p. 60; O. Davies, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 182; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 368. Matthew 1:1-17.—Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. i., p. 1.
Matthew 1:16I. We are reminded here that our Blessed Lord has a human ancestry.
II. Our Lord's ancestry was both Jewish and Gentile.
III. Our Lord's ancestry was lowly.
IV. Our Lord had a royal ancestry.
V. The Saviour has an immortal ancestry.
J. N. Norton, Golden Truths, p. 46.
References: Matthew 1:18.—A. Whyte, Expositor, 3rd series, vol. i., p. 120; C. Girdlestone, A Course of Sermons, vol. i., p. 89. Matthew 1:18-25.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 355; Parker, Inner Life of Christ, vol. i., p. 10.
Matthew 1:21I. Salvation from sin is the great necessity for man. This is a fact of universal observation. It is also a fact of universal consciousness. Men are so constituted that they cannot doubt that ultimate happiness is impossible unless they can be delivered from that which they know to be a great curse in this world, and which they also know will be their ultimate ruin, if persisted in.
II. Jesus has undertaken this work. "He shall save His people from their sins," therefore His name is Jesus, the name Jesus signifying a Saviour. The term salvation, as here used, means merely deliverance, or safety from some tremendous evil; it is often found in the Bible, and includes in it very generally, in addition to mere deliverance, the result of it—eternal happiness and enjoyment in heaven with the people of God.
III. Why is it that so many persons fail of this salvation? (1) Many persons fail of it because they have not abandoned reliance on themselves. It is the most obvious thing in the world, that many persons are living, not to God, but to themselves. Now, wherever this principle is manifested it is certain that persons are not saved from sin; for what is sin but living to self and not to God? Self-seeking is the very essence of sin. (2) Multitudes are not saved because they seek forgiveness while they do not forsake their sins. Another reason why men are not saved from sin is that they have really come to regard justification in sin as a means to save them from it. Justification in sin is a thing impossible. A man must be in a state of obedience to the law of God before he can be justified. (3) Many make the mistake of cherishing hope rather than holiness; instead of working out their own salvation, they seek to cherish a hope that they shall be saved.
C. G. Finney, Penny Pulpit, No. 1566.
References: Matthew 1:21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1434; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 39; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 39; Ibid., Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv., p. 259; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 9; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 345; W. M. Taylor, Three Hundred Outlines of Sermons on the New Testament, p. 1; C. Kingsley, Sermons for the Times, p. 48; G. Huntington, Sermons for Holy Seasons, vol. ii., p. 45. Matthew 1:22, Matthew 1:23.—H. P. Liddon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xv., p. 1; Ibid., Expository Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 1; Ibid., Three Hundred Outlines of Sermons on the New Testament, p. 2; J. C. Jones, Studies in St. Matthew, p. 1; J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 160.
Matthew 1:23The great essential doctrine of Christianity lies in these few words, God with us. To hear of Christ having come on this earth for a little time, and then having gone away again, would not be to us glad tidings of great joy. The first apostles would not have won men to the Gospel if they had preached an absent Jesus, One who had left His Church and gone to heaven. The great secret of our Christian joy lies in this fact, that we believe in a present, not in an absent Jesus; one who is Emmanuel—God with us. Try to get hold of that great fact of our Lord's presence, and then you will see what results flow from it.
I. First, that fact should make us humble. If the Son of God, King of kings, and Lord of lords, chose to come to this earth in the lowliest manner; if He chose a manger to be born in, a workman's home to live in, the commonest of clothing and of food, surely we, who profess to be His followers, have no right to be proud.
II. The fact of our Lord's abiding presence ought to make us brave. If God be for us, and with us, who can be against us? No temptation need be too strong to be conquered; no difficulty need be too hard to be surmounted by those who know that God is with them—Emmanuel.
III. The fact of our Lord's abiding presence ought to make us good to each other. Look on your fellowmen, and learn from the Incarnation to respect man, every man, as wearing the flesh which Jesus wears. Learn to look upon all men as brethren, who have a claim upon us in their need. There is a noble family in Italy whose name of Frangipanni means breakers of bread, that is, for the poor. We who are bound together in one family with Him who gives us our daily bread, not only bread for the body, but bread for the soul, should all be breakers of bread with our brethren, helping those who have need to a share of our blessings; for thus alone can we give something to Him who freely giveth all things—our Emmanuel, God with us.
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, The Life of Duty, vol. i., p. 39.
Matthew 1:23These words contain in themselves the whole history and course and means of man's redemption. In their highest sense they express that unfathomable mystery that God hath been with us, in our nature, that the Creator has taken His creature into Himself; but, by virtue of that gracious mystery, they declare God's presence in His Church, and with and within the souls of her members.
I. Such, then, is the twofold force of the title "Emmanuel, God with us," God in Himself, but with us, and such as we; not with us merely by mercy, or care, or providence, or protection, but with us as one of us; not restoring us by His word, as He created us, but by becoming as one of us; not by raising us by the hand when fallen, but by humbling Himself to us; Himself sinking to us, that He might rise with us, placing at God's right hand, united with Himself, and as part of Himself, the nature which He had redeemed.
II. And if He be such to us in deed and in the fulness of His purpose, if He have been thus God with us, and purposeth that we should be thus with God, how should He not be with us now in all things if we be His? What but sin can hide His face from us, in that it blinds our eyes that we see Him not? Why should He not be with us on our way, who is Himself the Way? To us, as to the disciples, He shows Himself in different forms, but He is the selfsame Saviour and Lord in all. He is our home and sure abiding-place; and all things in this earth may speak of Him, for we dwell in a redeemed world, which His sacred footsteps have trod and sanctified. Only, if we would truly see Him, we must seek to have the mirror of our hearts cleansed, that it may receive His glorious image. "The pure in heart," He hath promised, shall see Him. Love is the eye whereby the Spirit sees God. Disputing about holy things but blinds us. If we love, and as we love, we shall see and shall receive. While the world jangles our Lord comes secretly to us, if we, with pure hearts, draw nigh to Him.
E. B. Pusey, Sermons for the Church's Seasons, p. 54.
References: Matthew 1:23.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1270; H. Wonnacott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 1074; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines of Sermons, p. 9; Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 324; vol. x., p. 341; New Outlines of Sermons on the New Testament, p. 1; A. K. H. B., Graver Thoughts of a Country Parson, 3rd series, p. 169; H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 15; G. Huntington, Sermons for Holy Seasons, vol. i., p. 15.
Matthew 1:24I. No man that we read of in Scripture was so highly favoured as St. Joseph, in respect of being constantly near the person of our Saviour. From Christ's birth to His own death, which was at least more than twelve years, and very likely a good deal longer, Joseph was the entrusted guardian of our Lord, the minister of God, especially called and raised up to watch over that holiest childhood and youth, and to protect His blessed mother. Judging from God's ordinary dealings, we cannot but suppose that he must have been, more than almost any one, prepared and made meet for God's Kingdom, who was permitted for so long a time to exercise a ministry so near to God Himself.
II. The life and death of the nursing father of Jesus Christ teaches us this lesson—never to put by God's warnings, but to act on them, in dutiful faith, immediately; even as Joseph, being raised from sleep, lost no time, but at once did as the Angel of the Lord had bidden him. Had he doubted and delayed, he would have forfeited the blessing, the great blessing, of abiding continually with Christ. Let us, then, lose no time, but at once begin to practise the holy purposes which the Spirit of God may have put into our hearts, and which our good angel is waiting to encourage. There is no time like the time present.
Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. viii., p. 285; see also J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 149.
References: Matthew 1:25.—Expositor, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 198; G. Gilfillan, Alpha and Omega, vol. ii., p. 270; J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 189. Matt 1, Matt 2—E. Gibson, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 116. Matt 2—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 22.
Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
And Jacob begat 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.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.