The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.…
Homiletical uses -
I. Matthew's purpose is to show that Jesus, after the flesh, was THE HEIR OF DAVID AND OF ABRAHAM, the true Inheritor of the promises and of the liabilities of Israel. At his birth instructed Israelites might exclaim, "Unto us a Son is born!" - one who entered into a family of broken fortune, but was able to redeem its fortunes; who came not to build up a competence for himself, but to accept the obligations of the family, and work out for it a full emancipation. It was also requisite that Jesus should be recognized as the Heir of David, as the promised ideal King of Israel
II. THE THREE TIMES FOURTEEN GENERATIONS, though artificial, did yet appeal to the Jewish mind as a symbol of the fulness of times. Of signs that the time was ripe for the birth of Christ there was no lack. The world had done as much as it was ever likely to do without the new influences Christ brought into it. No government had ever more at command for the regeneration of the world than Rome had. It enlightened policy, bold statesmanship, extensive dominion, could have abolished the world's woes, no more was required than Rome had given to the world. In Greece, culture had done its best; in the further East, Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, had done all that human wisdom and purity could do to regulate the life and elevate the thoughts of men. The Jewish Law, Mosaism in all its departments, was also played out. It had yielded the utmost of benefit, and was now running to seed. A general feeling was stealing through many lands that the world needed help from above. Note, too, the preparation for the gospel in the spread of the Jews throughout the commercial world, the general prevalence of the Greek language, and the facility for intercourse afforded by the Roman government.
III. THE REASON OF THE LONG DELAY. At first sight one might suppose many good ends would have been served by Christ's appearing much earlier in the world's history. What prevented Christ from coming two thousand years before he did, and giving the world the advantage of two thousand years' more enjoyment of the best form of religion? Had Christ come as soon as the promise was given, the world would have been found unprepared for the gift, and unable to give it even that moderate welcome it afterwards found. The Law must first do its work, deepening the sense of duty, stirring conscience to an almost morbid activity, revealing the holiness of God, and showing men their lostness. The great gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise by preeminence, would not have been welcomed. God had to educate the world, as parents educate children, by alluring them onwards and by inconsiderable gifts teaching them gradually to long for the highest. He taught them to think of, to know, and to trust him by giving them what suited their condition and tastes; and so they learned by degrees to prize what he most highly esteemed - inward, spiritual prosperity.
IV. In our Lord's genealogy there is THE ORDINARY PROPORTION OF GOOD AND BAD PARENTAGE. Individuals are mentioned who would do no honour to any pedigree. The pride of birth which many of us feel would be abated were the whole ancestry from which we are sprung set down with biographies attached. We have only to go back far enough to find stain. Worse still, who can say what his own children shall be, and to what extent their disgrace is due to their inherited tendencies? Our Lord did not shun the contamination to which he was necessarily exposed by his true entrance into the human family.
1. Grace not hereditary. Fuller says, "Lord, I find the genealogy of my Saviour strangely chequered with four remarkable changes in four immediate generations.
(1) Roboam begat Abia: that is, a bad father begat a bad son.
(2) Abia begat Asa: that is, a bad father a good son.
(3) Ass begat Josaphat: that is, a good father a bad son.
(4) Josaphat begat Joram: that is, a good father a good son.
I see, Lord, from hence that my father's piety cannot be entailed: that is bad news for me. But I see also that actual impiety is not always hereditary: that is good news for my son."
2. Relationship to Christ. The honour of being connected with Christ after the flesh. Yet even after he was born and seen among men this honour was not felt as we might expect; and at all events no special saving influence was exerted on the individuals composing his line of descent. Closer than every earthly tie is the spiritual relationship he announces in Matthew 12:50. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.