Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Genius of the Genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17)

When a person becomes a Christian, it's common for them to start reading the Bible. Perhaps, slightly scared by the Old Testament (without reason, according to Dale Ralph Davis), they'll turn to the New Testament, and endeavour to read through it all. However, they might just come a cropper before they even finish the first chapter. Open up to Matthew chapter 1, and you're confronted with a genealogy. A list of names from 42 generations, from Abraham to Jesus. Unpronounceable names like Hezekiah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, and Jehoshaphat.

You almost want to ask Matthew what he's doing! You're opening a Gospel, an account of Jesus' life, teaching and deeds, and you give a huge list of names. For most of us, we're not really into genealogies - although with TV programmes like 'Who Do You think You Are?' there's some interest in family history. Yet Matthew puts it centre stage.

In fact, you would even want to take it to the top and ask the Holy Spirit what He was thinking of when he inspired Matthew to include it. But, as we believe, the Scriptures are God-breathed and God-inspired, so there must be a purpose to it.

This morning in St Elizabeth's, Matthew 1:1-17 was our Bible reading. Mark was preaching on it, and later in the week it'll be available on the St Elizabeth's sermon site. Why the genealogy? Jesus is presented as the fulfilment of God's promises - to Abraham, and to David. God's patience is presented throughout the good, the bad and the ugly generations of Israel's history and Jesus' great- grandparents.

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