“The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From David to the Deportation” (Matthew 1:1, 6b-11)

Midweek Advent Matins
Wednesday, December 9, 2020

“The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From David to the Deportation” (Matthew 1:1, 6b-11)

Last week we began looking at how Matthew begins his gospel. He begins with a genealogy, a genealogy that takes in much of Old Testament history. It is the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. But Jesus was, first of all, the Savior of Israel. He is the promised Messiah, who fulfilled the promises given to Israel’s forefathers. Jesus came into the world as the culmination, the climax, of Israel’s history. And so Matthew writes: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. . . .”

Last week we looked at how Jesus was the son of Abraham. Jesus fulfilled the covenant the Lord had made with Abraham: “I will bless you and make your name great. I will bless those who bless you, and all those who curse you I will curse. I will make of you a great nation. And in you–and in your seed–all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” That line of blessing would run through Abraham’s seed, his offspring. From Abraham came Isaac, and from Isaac came Jacob, and so on. The covenant was renewed and extended with each generation.

But the Lord also added something else into the mix with those promises. To Abraham at one point he said, “I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.” Likewise, to Jacob, the Lord said, “A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body.” And out of Jacob’s twelve sons, it was Judah to whom this promise came, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.”

So then, a king would come from the line of Judah! A royal ruler with a scepter. Indeed, a whole line of kings, until finally there would come one great king for whom it was all meant. The promise of a royal line and of one great king–that was what was added to the covenant the Lord made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And specifically, that these kings would come from the tribe of Judah.

Well, the centuries went along, and guess what? No king. But now the Israelites wanted a king. Not because the Lord had promised them one. No, it was because they wanted to be like all the nations around them. “The other nations have kings. How come we don’t?” All they had was the Lord and his prophets–as though that were not enough. They kept pressing God’s prophet Samuel to let them have a king, until the Lord finally let them have what they wanted. The king they got was King Saul–only he was not from the tribe of Judah, and he did not do what the Lord wanted. So Saul was rejected by God. The Lord then told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse, and out of Jesse’s sons, the Lord instructed Samuel to anoint David as the future king to replace Saul. Now David was from the tribe of Judah. And this was the king who would do the job. Through David would come the promise of the even greater king.

Well, the Lord blessed King David mightily. David was a man after the Lord’s own heart. He was a good and righteous king. He wrote many psalms. He was concerned for the worship life of Israel. King David unified and solidified the nation. He established Jerusalem as the capital. He brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, and he began preliminary work on building the temple. David was a great and glorious king.

Then one night the word of the Lord came to David’s pastor, Pastor Nathan, and Nathan gave David the message we heard a few minutes ago: “I will establish a house for you. I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” So an even greater king will come from the house of David. This son of David will bring in God’s everlasting kingdom. What a promise! What a hope!

For as great as David was, there were still problems in his kingdom. There were still problems in the king himself, in David. We can see that reflected in the genealogy in our text. In fact, Matthew seems to make a special point of it. He mentions something he didn’t need to mention, namely this: “And David was the father of Solomon . . . by the wife of Uriah.” Like we heard last week, whenever Matthew brings in extra information into this genealogy, he’s doing it for a purpose. And here, we have extra information. Matthew did not have to mention Solomon’s mother. That wasn’t normally done in this type of father-son genealogy. But here, the mention of “the wife of Uriah” reminds us of the whole story that goes with it. Even the way this is phrased casts it in a certain way. What I mean is, Matthew could have just said, “Bathsheba,” but instead he says, “the wife of Uriah.”

So here is the fatal flaw with all of these kings: It is their sinfulness, no matter how good as kings they may have been otherwise. Take Solomon, for example. Would he be the one to fulfill the promise? After all, he was THE son, literally, the son of David. And he started out with so much promise. The Lord gave Solomon an incredible amount of wisdom. He was the wisest man in the world. The glory and grandeur of Solomon’s kingdom reached new heights, even greater than that of his father David. Solomon built the temple that his father David could only dream about. So was Solomon “it”? Was he the one? Sadly, no. Solomon, although wise, became a fool of sorts. His greed and his lust led him to compromise his faith and the faith of Israel. He married foreign wives, and that meant introducing their foreign gods. Solomon, as promising as he started out, would not be the one to fulfill the promise to David.

Nor would it be Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. In fact, under Rehoboam, the kingdom split in two, into north and south–Israel in the north, Judah in the south. But the promise to David was still alive. The royal line of Judah, the line of David, was still going. King after king came, and with each birth of a royal son, you had to wonder, “Is this the one?” Is this little boy from the line of David going to grow up to be the promised Messiah?

Well, some of the kings were good and some were bad. Manasseh, for example, was a very wicked king. Hezekiah and Josiah, on the other hand, were good kings. They led the nation in renewed devotion to the Lord. They walked in his ways. But even the best of these kings died without fulfilling the promise given to David. When would that one son of David come?

Meanwhile, the nation kept going downhill spiritually. Oh, there would be brief revivals, but generally, it was a downward spiral spiritually. God’s prophets kept warning them of the coming judgment. Finally, it came. In 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took a group of captives in exile, out of Judah and into captivity in Babylon. He took Jechoniah, the heir to the throne. Now there was no son of David ruling on the throne in Jerusalem! This was shocking! What would happen to the promise made to David? A few years later, in 587 B.C., more captives were taken and Jerusalem was destroyed–even the temple was destroyed.

From the heights of David and Solomon to now, defeat and exile. No king, no son of David, ruling on the throne. However, the royal line was still alive. A royal heir was still living, albeit off in exile for the time being.

You see, the Lord does not forget his promises. He did not forget his promise to David, that one great king from his royal line would usher in the everlasting kingdom. And as dark as Israel’s fortunes had turned, that hope was still alive. The royal line had not been snuffed out. A son of David–the son of David–would come one day.

The prophet Isaiah told of this promise to be fulfilled: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

And the angel Gabriel was thinking of that same promise to David when he told a young lady named Mary: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Jesus is that king. Jesus is the son of David. When he came to Israel, he announced, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He went about preaching and teaching and healing, bringing the blessings of the kingdom to men. Where those other kings failed, flawed and sinful as they were, this king did not. Jesus is the one great king, the son of David, promised from of old.

But his kingdom came in a surprising way. Not in glory and grandeur. But in meekness and lowliness. In rejection and suffering. Suffering for the sins of his people, for the sins of all people, for your sins and mine. His crown was a crown of thorns. His throne was a cross, just outside Jerusalem. The sign said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

This king, Jesus Christ, is the great and promised son of David, great David’s greater Son. Jesus brings his people out of their lonely exile of sin and death, and he brings us into his kingdom of peace and life. Now he reigns forevermore. He comes to us now in his Word and sacraments, giving us the gifts of his kingdom of grace. And he will come again one day, when we will finally see and experience all that is in store for us in his kingdom of glory. “Jesus Christ, the son of David.” “Behold, your king is coming to you, righteous and having salvation.”

Published in: on December 10, 2020 at 12:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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