The Gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy running from Abraham to Jesus. It was interesting to see all the names and realize that only a handful of them are used in our country. I’d be curious to know how many of these names are still used in the Middle Eastern countries nearer the events of the New Testament.
I do know from Bible studies that a name in those ancient times would be very significant. The meaning of one’s name would give them their identity or speak of their character. Names these days are usually chosen because the parents like them, or they are a family name they want to keep alive, or perhaps they are just being creative in using words not commonly used as names.
Have you ever traced your own family roots? How many generations were you able to go back? I took a J-term class during my freshman year of college focusing on this process. It was really interesting.
What is beautiful about this passage is the symmetry. There are 14 generations between each section. That’s twice seven, symbolizing perfection and covenant. Like a neatly wrapped package, Jesus, the Messiah is born at just the right time. This was his destiny. He is the fulfillment of God’s plan.
While I’ve read that these generations may not be completely historical, they are more likely arranged this way for theological purposes. There is another genealogy found in the Book of Luke. There are similarities to the lists, but Luke’s list is longer. Speculation has been that perhaps one list was to Mary and the other to Joseph. Remember, too, that these lists are a result of oral traditions passed down from family to family. There was no Ancestor.com detailing the family line.
One other notable difference between the two lists is the mention of women. Matthew mentions five moms who played a significant role in God’s story of salvation. The stories of these women show bravery and strength. We have Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. They were all unlikely women used by God for his purposes.
God’s inspiration for a genealogy list to appear at all had a purpose. Jesus was the promised Messiah. He was to be born in the line of David. Both Luke and Matthew document this. We need not let ourselves get caught up in the details. Jesus fulfilled prophecy, and Matthew’s account attempts to lead with that. These are the opening chapters of the New Testament. It’s a beautiful bridge from Old to New.
Let’s pray. Lord, I look forward to the days ahead of reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life. Help me not get so caught up in details and wanting to understand every detail. Your word is designed to draw us in to your story. It’s our story, too. As a child of God, I am connected to you and look forward to learning more about my heritage. Open my eyes and my heart to hear your messages. In Jesus’ name. Amen.