As a boy, our attic was a place of mystery and wonder. Its clutter was a treasure trove of self-discovery. Things, my parents and grandparents knew, but forgot. Things my parents and grandparents experienced but wanted to forget. But to me it was a place to discover people whose names I knew but whose lives I did not. It was a place to understand how I came to be who I was.
Family histories are precious. Even if notorious or even scandalous. The names on our family tree are not mere chronological markers. They represent real lives. And they had real impact on our lives through their character, their genetics, their successes and their failures. And what is true of our particular genealogies is also true of biblical genealogies.
At first glance those genealogies, like my childhood attic, seem cluttered and unfamiliar. But God has placed them in the Scriptures for our instruction. To understand more who we are, and more importantly, who God is. Like my attic, those genealogies are treasure troves of self-discovery. The difficulty with them is not how to find something meaningful, but how to distill all we find to its impact on us.
At the head of the story of the Incarnation, God gave us a genealogy. This ancestry framed the humiliation and exaltation of our redeemer with the picture of a dysfunctional family. But Jesus’ family tree is ours as well. It is a family into which we have been adopted. A family that shows us God’s faithfulness and grace to those who will not and cannot get it together.
At every point in Matthew’s gospel the question is asked of Jesus, “who is He?” Who is this? Even the wind and waves of obey Him? Who is this who even forgives sins? Who is this of whom the crowds cry “Hosanna?” At every turn we find someone asking this question. But it is the question the Holy Spirit anticipates and answers at every turn. And like every significant milestone in the story redemption, this gospel is introduced by a ‘toledoth,’ a geneaology.
Jesus is the Christ. The Son of David. The Son of Abraham. He is the Son of Man and yet, the Son of God. The story of Jesus’ beginnings, tells us who he is. And who he is not. By giving Jesus’ toledoth, the Holy Spirit unveils what Paul called a “great mystery, Jesus Christ manifest in the flesh.”
Jesus’ toledoth does not reveal a new way of salvation. But declares that God has kept his promise. He has fulfilled the covenant of grace he made with generations of men and women in the Old Testament. Matthew’s genealogy is not the story of a man’s life, but of God’s saving work to give new and eternal life to men who receive him.
Who is this Jesus? The story of Jesus’ beginnings concludes with instructions about his name. “He will be called Jesus, because He will save His people from their sin.” Do you know who Jesus is? More importantly do you know Jesus, himself? Join us as we examine Matthew 1:1-17 and consider the question so many asked about Jesus – “Who is this?”