Intro – A dozen years ago a Wycliffe Bible Translator got some local help and began translating Matthew. To avoid confusion, he skipped the list of names in Matt 1. He was disappointed that no helper professed faith in Christ. Eventually, they had to go back to chapter 1. By the time they got to the fourth, fifth and sixth begat, he saw the men getting excited. Their faces lit up! They stopped him and said, “You mean this Abraham was a real person? David was a real person? Jesus was real? These are not just stories you white men have made up, that these are real people?” And he said, “Yes!” They said, “Well, we get it now! We understand this. We know our ancestors back 50 generations. You have been telling us the truth about this man Jesus – that he had ancestors who were real people. God really did these things.” The power of a genealogy.
Luke does the same for Theophilus. He places Jesus in the human race. But this is no ordinary human. He is in the list, but also above the list. Every other person in the list shares humanity’s worst nightmare – all are sinners. He alone is not. He is on the list, but He is also the Savior of the list. Without Him the list is eternally condemned. With Him, acceptance by God becomes possible. But it will be costly. Sin requires payment – by the sinner or by a perfect substitute. Luke purposely places the genealogy between the baptism of Christ, where He identifies with sinful mankind – and the temptation of chapter 4 where He succeeds where the first Adam failed. He is perfectly suited to fulfill His mission --to seek and to save the lost.
Matthew 1 also has a genealogy of Christ, with notable differences. In Matthew, the list starts with Abraham and works forward to Christ, showing Him as King of the Jews. Luke starts with Jesus and works backwards, all the way to Adam, showing the humanity of Christ and the universal nature of the gospel. It’s not just for Jews, but for everyone – all the way to Adam.
Matthew gives Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph, his legal father – Luke through Mary – His biological lineage. He says in Lu 3:30, “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli.” Luke details Jesus’ virgin birth. But he was raised by Joseph who was “supposed” by most people to be his true father. Joseph’s father is Jacob per Matt 1:16. So, who is the Heli? The Jewish Talmud says he’s Mary’s father. So, some place the entire phrase “being the son as was supposed of Joseph” in parenthesis, positioning Jesus as son (actually grandson) of Heli, Mary’s father. The word “son” is not actually used before Heli – it simply says “of Heli”. It is also possible that Heli adopted Joseph if he had no sons.
The genealogy affirms His credentials to seek and to save the lost.” But while He is part of list, His mission in history is nothing less than to restore that list, plus the 150 billion other people who have lived, to what was lost when Adam sinned –back to conformity with the will of God. This genealogy tells us who He is and why He is qualifies for His mission. The key phrase here is “son of” – 76 times! Can’t look at all, but I want us to review 4 of those to see different aspects of Jesus’ fitness for His mission.
I. Son of David (Ruler for God)
V. 31 – “son of David.” God made a covenant with King David around 1,000 BC in II Sam 7:16, “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” Clearly, this did not happen right away. Israel’s penchant for idolatry led to captivity in Babylon within 400 years leaving no kingdom and no king. Kingdom over?! Well, not so fast. God renews His promises to Daniel, a Hebrew leader in the captivity. One particularly noteworthy prophecy is Daniel 7:13) “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days (God the Father) and was presented before him. 14) And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” God is still planning a Davidic kingship – but through a single king! One like a “son of man”, thus human.
Fast forward 600 years. (God is never in a hurry?!). How can a man reign forever? In Luke 1:32-33 Gabriel tells Mary of Jesus, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” How can a man reign forever? He is a God-man -- Jesus, the ultimate son of David who fulfills all the promises. Which is exactly what the disciples of Jesus expected of Messiah, but which did not happen yet. Why? Because in His first coming, the nation rejected their own Messiah. They failed on a key point. They did not see that God’s kingdom starts inside – in repentant hearts. Thus in His first coming, Jesus died for the sins of the world, and began His kingdom rule inwardly for all who will believe. At His 2nd coming, He will establish political rule forever just as promised. You can read all about it in Rev 19-20.
Meantime, we become advance kingdom members now by submission to His lordship. Col 1:13, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Everyone here this morning is part of the kingdom of God or part of the kingdom of darkness. No in-between. Jesus will one day rule a renovated world of heaven and earth. And all who give Him their hearts now – inwardly – will participate in His rule outwardly then. Are you in? Have you bowed to this greater son of David as your king?
Phil 2:10-11 tells of a day when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” But only those who confessed Him as Lord in this life will rule with Him then. Son of David.
II. Son of Abraham (Revelation of God) (v. 34)
God made a covenant with Abraham. It promised land and descendants. Gen 22:17-18, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” Abraham was just another Gentile until God chose him to be the first Jew. God created a nation out of nothing, but because Israel was rightly called God’s chosen people, there is a pervasive misconception that they were chosen to be particularly blessed by God – that they were held close to His heart while other peoples were let go. Nothing could be further from the truth. Look at Gen 22:18 again: “and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Israel was not chosen just so Israel could be blessed; Israel was chosen to bless all nations. That was their mission.
Ancient people remade God in their image. Walk the British museum to see the gross misconceptions. So God chose a people to reveal Himself – in the lives of the patriarchs, in the Egyptian captivity (the primary visual of salvation), in the law given through Moses. God’s purpose was not just to bless Israel; it was to bless the world through Israel. But they were faithless, adopting other gods rather than sharing the true God. Men-pleasers.
But as Paul told Timothy in II Tim 2:13, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful.” God was not about to let His promise go or His purpose fail. Thus Jesus on the list as a son of Abraham, for He is the ultimate revelation of God. Where they failed, He will succeed. Peter noted this in Acts 3. A crowd gathered when he and John healed a man at temple. Peter began to preach in Acts 3:11. He reminded them that the Jesus whom they rejected in favor of a murderer had now been glorified by God. Peter says in Acts 3:15, “you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” (Truth is not always seeker-friendly!). He shows Jesus fulfilled other OT prophecies about a suffering Messiah, and that the fate of those who did not listen would be in Acts 3:23 “destroyed from the people.” His basic message was, “You people are under a death sentence.”
But then comes grace. Acts 3:25, “You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” What Peter is saying is, “You are the sons of the prophets and heirs to the covenant of Abraham. You were to bless all the families of earth. You have failed utterly. But – But, God has not failed. God has raised up the offspring of Abraham – the son of Abraham, Jesus, through whom all will be blessed who will turn to Him. And, God is giving you Jews first opportunity to repent” – which many did.
Jesus remains the great revealer of God. John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side (Jesus) he has made him known.” Do you know God this morning? Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” Have you come to the Father through this son of Abraham? He is the only way. There is a story about an odd soldier. He would pick up every piece of paper he saw, read it, frown and say, "That’s not it”. After a month of this, the CO arranged for testing. The psychologist declared the soldier deranged, and wrote out his discharge from the Army. The soldier picked it up, smiled and said, "That’s it." Listen, only one person has your discharge papers from the kingdom of darkness -- Jesus. There is no other choice, no other option, no other way to God. Do you have Him this morning?
III. Son of Adam (Redeemer to God)
V. 38, Son of Adam. That clearly depicts His humanity. Since Adam failed, it took a son of Adam to redeem the failure. It’s all in Gen 3 -- the Fall – the failure of the first Adam to have dominion over Creation. Instead, Creation dominates him. He accepts the word of the serpent/Satan over that of God and brings the penalty of death on the whole human race. Adam and Eve find themselves hopelessly lost and hiding from God rather than running to Him.
Gen 3:9: But the Lord God. What a phrase! But God! We find it again in Eph 2. Paul describes the hopeless condition of those who are dead in trespasses and sins, following Satan and their own lusts straight to hell. Lost beyond hope. Then Eph 2:4, “But God – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Redemption from sin. It all started in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve ran, but God caught them, and in the midst of pronouncing judgment – grace and mercy! It’s Genesis 3:15, “I (God) will put enmity between you (Satan to whom he is speaking) and the woman (Eve), and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” There it is in its first, cryptic form, coming just at the right time when it appears that sin and Satan have won – the promise of a redeemer who will bruise the head – kill – Satan. He’s going down, Beloved. And it’s through the offspring of the woman – the lineage of Adam and Eve. Jesus is that ultimate offspring. Heb 2:14 describes how and when this happened: “Since therefore the children (believers) share in flesh and blood (are human) , he himself likewise partook of the same things (humanity – son of Adam), that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” When Satan got Christ on the cross, he thought he had won. But he drastically miscalculated. Jesus arose again. He’d been bruised on the heel, nonfatally! But in His death, Satan had been mortally wounded. Ironically, the death of Christ was the deathblow of Satan – just as God said.
As the son of Adam, Jesus is the promised redeemer to God of all who will believe. Col 2:13-14 tells us what really happened on the cross, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh (hopelessly lost), God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” The sin of the redeemed was nailed to the cross with Him. Have you been redeemed?
IV. Son of God (Mediator as God)
V. 38: Jesus is “the son of God.” Adam was the son of God by creation. Jesus, by incarnation, has joined that fraternity. He shares the human nature of every person in the list – fully man. But – and it is a critically important “but” – Jesus is also the Son of God by nature. Not just fully man; He is also fully God. And it is a good thing, for the moment Adam sinned, the human race joined him in his death sentence. We are all born with indwelling sin; then we commit out own sins. The penalty is spiritual death – eternal separation from God. And those separated from God need something. What do they need? They need a mediator. They need a go-between – someone who can stand between them and God. But every person on the list is lost – all except one. The God-man. He alone can be the mediator.
Turn to Exodus 14. The Israelites have been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. God sends Moses to get them out. Ten great plagues, Pharaoh finally lets them go. But they are no sooner gone than he wants them back. They soon find themselves between a rock and a hard place – the Red Sea before them and Pharaoh’s army behind. They react in Exod 14:11, “What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” That was a lie. They came willingly, so they are casting aspersions on Moses and God. “13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Moses speaks for God, trying to restore faith.
Now why does God save Israel, but not the Egyptians? Our immediate response is Israel is the good guys and Egypt is the bad guys. But that just shows we haven’t read the Bible very far. Not only was Israel petulant and childish; they were murderous. They would have gladly killed the Egyptians; they just lacked the power to do so. They were no better than the Egyptians. So, why do God’s waters of judgment come down on the Egyptians and not on the Israelites? And the answer is, because the Israelites have a mediator. Look at Exod 14:15, “The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.” That’s interesting. God rebukes Moses – the only innocent in the crowd. But do you see what is happening? It’s a picture. Moses represents the people to God (and bears their sin), while at the same time he represents God to the people. He will shortly lift his staff; the waters will part and he will take them through in a dramatic picture of salvation. He is their mediator. Moses is so identified with the people that he shares their guilt, but he is so identified with God that God’s power works through him to divide the Sea. He is the man in the middle – simultaneously bearing the people’s sin and God’s saving power.
Guess what? I know a better mediator. We do not have in Jesus Christ just a mediator who is fully man and close to God. He was fully man and fully God. We do not have in Christ a mediator who was rebuked for one sin in one verse. He took on the sin of the whole world. And there is another picture of this. When Jonah was in the boat and the storm of God's wrath and the waves of God's wrath were about to sink the boat, Jonah turned all the sailors and said, "This is the storm of God's wrath. The only way you will get saved is if you throw me in. Throw me in and you will be saved." So they throw him in and they are saved. Jesus had the audacity to say in Matt 12:41, "A greater than Jonah is here," talking about himself. What does that mean? It means that Jesus Christ on the cross was thrown into that ocean of God's wrath, cut off from God's sight. Jesus Christ had all the plagues come down on him. Darkness came down on him. What was happening? Jesus was becoming a curse for us (Gal 3:13), so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor 5:21). No one else in the list could have done that. That is why He was there. I Tim 2:5-6, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all.”
At one point Moses went to God when God was ready to give up on the Israelites and said blot my name and keep them. I’ll substitute for them. God did not do it. But when our mediator, Jesus Christ, said the same thing, God did it. He allowed His own son to suffer the second death in our place -- the ultimate mediator. He is the reason you and I can cross over, from Egypt to paradise; from death to life; from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God. John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed (crossed over) from death to life.” Have you crossed over? This genealogy shows Jesus crossed over for you. He became what you are so that you could be what He is. He’s come to you with love and mercy. Now the question is, will you come to Him? Or do you choose to stay with the Egyptians. We beg you on behalf of God – cross over. Let’s pray.