Skip to comments."The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From the Deportation to the Christ" (Sermon on Matthew 1:1, 12-17)
Posted on 12/19/2007 10:46:12 AM PST by Charles Henrickson
The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From the Deportation to the Christ (Matthew 1:1, 12-17)
During this Advent season, we are preparing to meet and greet our coming king. The King is coming--to us, for us--coming at Christmas, coming at the end of time, coming now into our midst through Word and Sacrament. So we prepare to meet him--in repentance, in faith, in holy joy. Thats what Advent is all about.
But this king we are preparing to meet--this king who comes to us--this is a lowly king. Lowly, not high. Lowly, humble, coming in a way you might not expect. Our lowly king comes to us through the gospel in a very surprising way.
Surprising, yet faithful to Gods promises. While we may have forgotten about his promises--when we think God may have forgotten his promises--here comes this surprise, this lowly surprise that brings salvation and hope and joy to our hearts. God does remember. God does keep his promises--even when things are looking their worst.
Lowly, surprising, and faithful--thats how God works. Thats really the message we can take from our text for today. At first glance, though, it looks like just a bunch of names--almost all of which you have never heard of. But when we take a closer look, we gain tremendous insight into how God deals with us by the gospel. We gain strength and courage and confidence in Gods promises.
Our text is The Genealogy of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the opening verses of Matthew. More specifically, we focus on the last third of the genealogy, the part that takes us From the Deportation to the Christ.
We began two weeks ago with the first third of that genealogy as Matthew gives it, the part starting with Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah, and so on. Jesus is the son of Abraham, the fulfillment of those promises made to the patriarchs: I will bless you and make your name great. And through your seed--through your offspring--all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Jesus is that seed of blessing, the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant.
We traced the line of Abraham down through Jesse and to his son, David--King David, as we heard last week. The Lord made a promise to David, too, that one of his sons would reign on his throne in an everlasting kingdom. The Messiah, the Christ, would come through the line of David. But it wasnt Solomon. Solomon started out so promising, but he ended up failing, he didnt measure up. And so it went through all the kings of Israel and Judah. None of them lived up to the great things spoken of that one great son of David who was to come. In fact, after David, the nation and its kings basically went into a long downward spiral, finally ending in Gods judgment coming upon them in the form of the Babylonian Captivity. From the heights of King Davids reign down they went to the low point of conquest and defeat and exile at the hands of their enemies. The nation had been brought down. The king was taken off his throne and hauled off to exile in Babylon.
This was a real low point, this removal or deportation to Babylon. A low point in Israels history--but it would get even lower. For this was no brief, temporary setback. From this point on, Israel gets locked into a pattern of never getting back to where they once were.
The exile to Babylon lasted about seventy years, until Babylon was itself conquered by another power. Then the Israelites were permitted to come back to Judah, to come back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. The returnees were led by Zerubabbel, who is mentioned early in this part of the list. But Zerubabbel was really never anything more than a governor. He was not a king. So there was no king to sit on the throne as David had. The royal line was still alive, physically. But politically, Israel never would get back strong enough to where they could be their own kingdom again. No son of David would be reigning on a throne anytime soon.
Do you realize what that meant? What it meant to the people back then, during all those several hundred years covered in this part of the genealogy? They must have been asking, Where is God in all of this? Has he forgotten his promises? Where is the Messiah that he promised? We dont even have a son of David on the throne at all, much less the one who might be the Messiah. When will he come? When will God do what he promised? How long, O Lord? How long? How long must we endure being under foreign domination?
Maybe you have had similar complaints and confusions. Has God forgotten about me? Has he forgotten his promises? And the longer this goes on, the more likely I am to forget his promises, to lose confidence in them and in him. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.
But to people sitting in darkness, like Israel was so long ago, the light comes. And in a surprising way. A lowly way. At a time and in a way we maybe werent expecting. After a long list of nobodies--and I do mean nobodies--most of these names are not even mentioned in the Old Testament. . . . From out of a long string of obscurity, we come to a name that likewise would have remained obscure except for the surprising thing God was about to do. We come to a man with the common, ordinary name of Joseph--just an ordinary Joe, literally. But this fellow happened to marry quite well. Hes listed here as the husband of Mary, who herself would have been totally forgotten by history but for what the Lord did in her and through her. For of Mary was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Finally, the Christ has come! From out of nowhere, from out of this long and undistinguished list of nobodies in this part of the genealogy, after Israel had hit its lowest point and then got stuck at that low point for centuries--now, in this lowly and surprising way, here comes the Christ. God has not forgotten his promises! He is faithful to fulfill his word. You could have predicted it--in fact, the prophets did predict it--but still it came as a total surprise. God keeps his promises, even when you least expect it.
Lowly, surprising, and faithful--thats how God works. Lowly: The Christ came to a humble carpenter and his wife. Surprising: This king, this son of David, would bring in Gods everlasting kingdom precisely by dying a criminals death. Faithful: God keeps his promises to Abraham and David, fulfilling them at a time when it looked like he may have forgotten them.
Friends, God has not forgotten you. From out of nowhere your Savior came, so that you could really go somewhere. From out of a long line of nobodies he came, so that you would no longer be a nobody in Gods sight. Now you are somebody. Now you are a child of God, baptized, forgiven, nourished with Word and Sacrament, filled with the Holy Spirit, a new person in Christ, headed for heaven. Now your name is listed in Gods family of blessing and promise.
All because of this one who was born, and lived, and died on the cross for you and your salvation. Because of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Yes, Christ, our lowly, surprising, and faithful Advent king!
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. . . .
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
BTW, in case you were wondering, I didn't post a sermon from this past Sunday, because there wasn't one. Our service was canceled due to snow and ice.
That’s really nice. Do youall do the exact same readings as we Catholics do every week?
If you Roman Catholics are like us Lutherans, you probably follow either a Three-Year Lectionary (as I do) or an even more historic One-Year Lectionary. Most liturgical Lutherans around the world are pretty much following the same lectionary as the RCs and the Anglicans/Episcopalians.
Of course, for a midweek Advent (or Lenten) series like this one, most Lutheran pastors "free-text" it according to a theme of their choosing.
Did you ping PhilCollins?
Bump for reading after church.
That’s not really Jesus’ genealogy. It mentions Joseph’s ancestors, but Joseph was Jesus’ step-father.
Some (non-Lutrin) pastors have even preached that Jesus’ DNA was more like a corkscrew instead of a double-helix.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.