Immanuel - God With Us

Bible Book: Matthew  1 : 1-23
Subject: Christmas; Jesus, Genealogy of

I wondered what he would do when he was asked to read a passage of Scripture. I was embarrassed for him, just thinking about it. He did well to read the simplest words, and I realized that the passage he was asked to read would include a bunch of “begats”. I waited to see how he would handle it, wondering if something like this would cause my neighbor to drop out of church, especially if someone laughed. He began reading, and was not doing too badly. Then, he came to the “begats”. He waded right in, reading the first few names, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and looking up, he said, “ I don’t know how to say some of those names, but I’ll do the best I can. Judah begat sump’m, and sump’m begat sump’m, and sump’m begat sump’m.”

I was sitting there thinking, “Now, isn’t that sump’m?!!!” And it really was.

Today, we are going to take a look at the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, found in Matthew 1:1-17, and I think by the time we finish you are going to be saying, “Now isn’t that sump’m”- if not those exact words, something almost as articulate.

The question I asked myself when I was a young person was, why did Matthew begin the first Book in the New Testament with all those name that are so hard to pronounce, and harder to remember?
Please don’t ask me how old I was when I stopped asking that question! I have read novels over the years and I can recall times when I started reading one and had so much trouble getting interested in it that I finally closed the book and put it aside. Why, then, did the Lord use Matthew to write the Book that opens the New Testament? Why did He use the genealogy of Christ to introduce the story of the birth of Jesus Christ? Why did He not use the Book of Luke to open this great volume we call the New Testament? The story of the birth of Jesus with which Luke opens the Gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is more readable, easier to memorize, and the names are easier to pronounce.

Well, I have news for you. The Lord knew what He was doing when He inspired Matthew to write the Book that would open the New Testament and declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Even after two thousand years, the introduction to the Gospel According to Matthew is still being read by people around the world. It is a part of the Book that we all know to be the best selling book in the history of the world.

How, we may ask, can a Book that begins with all those hard to pronounce names be the world’s all time best seller? Why is it the most often translated Book in the history of the world? Why does the New Testament not begin with something a little more interesting than all these names? I don’t mean names like Abraham, David, and Ruth: I mean names like Jechonah, Aminadab, Salathiel, and Zerubbabel. Now, those names are really “sumpin’!” However, to those early Jewish readers those names affirmed the genealogy of the Messiah. However, even if you and I may never see this passage substituted for Luke 2 in children’s programs, this is exactly how the New Testament should begin.

To the Jew first, and then to the Gentile, the first chapter of the Gospel According to Matthew opens with a chapter that affirms the fact that Jesus Christ fulfills thousands of years of prophecy concerning a coming One who would provide for the salvation of all who believe in Him.

I have often wondered how many people have missed a genuine blessing by skipping over those “begats” in the First Chapter of the Gospel According to Matthew. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the Gospel According to Matthew. Matthew, of all the apostles, was uniquely qualified to deal with genealogical records, but the uniqueness of this particular genealogy has nothing to do with the experience of Levi, the tax collector. This Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit, gloriously arranged and wonderfully structured to make a very special statement. Let’s look at this miraculous genealogy together.

If you were writing a book you would want to be the all time best seller, you would want the most amazing introduction in the entire history of the world.  I believe that is exactly what we have in the first chapter of the first book in the New Testament.

The Gospel According to Matthew, according to my friend Dr. Bill Cooper of England, reached his island within ten years of the Resurrection of Jesus.  He has stressed this discovery from his research more than once and I am becoming more and more convinced.  It makes sense.  It also fits what  Paul wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God...”  (2 Tim 3:16, HCSB)  I have read he arguments about the sources for the Gospels, but if Dr. Cooper is right, and at this point I am inclined to believe he is, then Matthew’s source was the Holy Spirit and while human sources have their place, none compares to the Holy Spirit.


A. There Are Special Keys We Must Understand as We Look at the Genealogy of Christ.

1. There are three division. The number three is the divine number, denoting the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. No Jewish scholar would have missed the implication of the number three, and many would have missed the significance of the three divisions in the genealogy of Christ. How many days was Jonah in the belly of the fish? How may days was Jesus in the grave? Everything concerning the genealogy of Christ was orchestrated by the Lord Himself.

2. There are fourteen name is each of the three divisions. The number seven is the number for perfection, or completion. When there is a desire to place strong emphasis on the significance of a number it may be multiplied by two, by ten, or by itself. So, there are three divisions with fourteen (seven times two) names in each one. This would have gotten the attention of any interested Jew of the period. The very construction of this genealogy affirms the hand of the Lord in it. We will come back to those numbers a little later.

But there is much more to this particular genealogy.

B. Jesus is the Son of Adam, the Seed of the Woman Eve.

In Genesis 1, we learn that everything that exists was created by God, but in John 1, we discover that while the Father said, “Let there be...”, Jesus was the Agent of Creation. John wrote:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created” (John 1:1-3, HCSB).

In Genesis 3:15, God placed a curse on Satan, and gave us the first promise of a Redeemer: “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15, HCSB). Jesus was the seed of the woman, even though we commonly refer to the seed of the man. This was the first hint of the virgin birth. I don’t think we would be stretching the point too much to say Jesus, according to the human line, was descended from Adam because Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs.

Jesus, the incarnate Christ, was both human and divine. He was as much human as if He had not been divine at all, and He was as much divine as if He had not been human at all. James wrote that Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15, KJV). He faced the trials and the temptations human beings normally face, yet He never sinned. It was essential for Him to have been human so that He could defeat death, hell, and the grave. He not only resisted the temptation to sin, He shed His blood while on the cross to cover the sins of all who place their faith in Him.

Paul wrote in Philippians 2 that Jesus humbled Himself more than any man, taking on the form of a human being Himself so that he might die on the cross for all of us. Having accomplished that, He was restored to His rightful place at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Paul expressed it like this:

“For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11, HCSB).

The Bible establishes the fact that Jesus was the Seed of the woman, fully human, born to a virgin, tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. In this sense, He is qualified to be our Redeemer.
But there is more.

C. Jesus is the Son of Abraham [According to Spiritual Promise] (Gen. 12:1-3).

1. Jesus’ genealogy affirms His qualifications to be our Savior.

“I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:2-3).

God protected His covenant with Abraham and honored it in ancient time. But there is even more: He is still blessing all the peoples on earth” through Jesus.
“For it is clear that He does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring. Therefore He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:16-17).

2. Jesus is the only possible fulfilment of the Abrahamic Covenant.

a. The promise was not realized in Isaac.
b. It was not realized in Jacob.
c. It was not even realized in Moses.

D. Jesus Is the Son of David [According to the Royal Line] (Rom. 1:1-4).

“Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news— which He promised long ago through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures— concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh and was established as the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:1-4).

1. Jesus, as Son of David, fulfills the David Covenant (2 Sam. 7:11-13).

The genealogical record affirms Jesus as the Messiah, and in doing so it affirms Him as the fulfillment of the David covenant.

“The Lord declares to you: The Lord Himself will make a house for you. When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7:11-13).

Those early Jewish believers who were trained in the Law and Prophets must have found this genealogy exciting beyond anything we can imagine. It should still be received by those who know the Scripture as assurance that the One introduced to us through the Gospels is the Son of God, and the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

2. We may glean certain truths from this reference to the Davidic Covenant.

1) Jesus is the son of David (Davidic Covenant, 2 Sam. 7).
2) His is an everlasting kingdom.
3) Solomon never established such a kingdom.
4) Solomon was born to become a king.
5) Jesus was not born to become a king.
6) Jesus was born King.
7) He was born to become the Savior.


A. The First Division Runs from Abraham to David.

1. It begins with Abraham who to whom God made the promise.
2. It ends with David who led Israel to its zenith of world power.

This period covers roughly the period from 2000 B. C to 1000 B. C. Since a day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day, every detail if fresh in the mind of God. Once again, to the first time Jewish reader of the day the genealogy of Jesus Christ would have spoken clearly. To those who believed in Jesus the construction must have been exciting.

B. The Second Division Runs from Solomon to the Babylonian Captivity.

1. This brought the destruction of David’s kingdom as an earthly kingdom.

Zerubbabel led the remnant back from Babylonian Captivity to the land of their fathers, the land God had given to Abraham, the land He had enabled David to conquer, from the Mediterranean sea to the Euphrates River. When the children of Israel were taken into captivity in Babylon the House of David ceased to supply a king to reign over Judah. Zerubbabel was the governor, but never a king.

2. The Davidic Covenant pointed beyond the earthly kingdom of David.

C. The Third Division Runs from the Babylonian Captivity to Jesus Christ.

1. This includes the Babylonian Captivity (606- 536 B.C).
2. It includes the return.
3. It includes the Interbiblical Period.
4. It includes the time Israel was subject to the Persian Empire.
5. It includes the time Israel was subject to the Greek Empire.
6. It includes the time Israel was subject to the Roman Empire.

D. The Divisions Are Significant.

There are three divisions. The number three is the divine number: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the great Three in One God. There are fourteen names in each category. What does fourteen signify? Seven is the perfect(complete) number (3 - the divine number + 4 - the universal number = 7 - the complete number). In this system of expressing thoughts and ideas with numbers, you intensify the meaning when you multiply any number by two, or any multiple of ten. Thus, 2 X 7 = 14. The structure in no accident. When the time was right God sent forth His Son, born of a virgin, heralded by angels, visited by wise men from the East.


A. There Are Gentiles in the Genealogy of Jesus.

1. There is Rahab of Jericho.
2. There is Ruth the Moabitess.

If a First Century Jew was trying to create his own Jewish religion there is no way he would have included any Gentile names. Remember that middle wall of partition at the Temple, with the warning that if any Gentile went beyond that point he would be stoned to death? Recall also the intense hatred for all Gentiles. When the Jew returned from any Gentile land to the Land of Promise he stopped at the border and shook off the Gentile dust from his sandal, stepped across with one foot, then raised the other foot, shook the dust off the other one and then set it down in the Promised Land. The Jews called Gentiles dogs. Gentiles were fit only for fodder for the fires of hell

The inclusion of Gentiles would not have been very smart if one were trying to invent a new religion and sell it to Jews. The Holy Spirit must have had a good reason to inspire Matthew to include those names.

B. There Are Women in the Genealogy of Jesus.

1. There is Tamar.
2. There is Rahab.
3. There is Ruth.
4. There is Bathsheba.

The pious Pharisee stood each morning and prayed, “Oh Lord, I thank you that You did not create me a woman or a Gentile.” The inclusion of women in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, though strange, must have been significant. Organized religion may not have shown respect for Gentiles and women but the Lord did.

C. There Were Immoral People Listed in the Genealogy of Jesus.

1. There is Judah.
2. There is Tamar.
3. There is David.
4. There is Bathsheba.

Once again, if a Jewish man had set out to establish a new religion, he probably would have whitewashed the genealogy. It was bad enough to include one immoral person, but the genealogy of Jesus Christ includes four. This does not seem smart. Remember how the Pharisees freaked out when they saw Jesus associating with sinners? He did a lot of that. In fact a lot of sinful people were cleansed both physically and spiritually by our Lord.

From a worldly point of view, this genealogy would not have been very smart. There is no way a pious Jew would have come up with anything like that. Of course, today someone would probably run a poll to see what people might want in a new religion.


A. There Is No One In the Genealogy of Christ Who Was Perfect.

Abraham and David were such great political and military leaders many pagan races may well have worshiped them. However, when the Holy Spirit inspired the Holy Scripture he did not gloss over anyone’s sins, and that included Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. The wonder of it all is not what those great men did for the Lord, but what He did with such flawed vessels.

B. There Are Some More Surprises in the Genealogy of Our Savior.

Let me share three quotes that might help explain some of the unusual inclusions:

1) “There is neither Jew not Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). This explains the Gentiles and women in the Genealogy of our Lord.

2) F. F.Bruce said, “A sinless man is as much a miracle in the moral world as a virgin birth in the physical world.” While that does not carry the authority of the Word of God, it does remind us that only Jesus is sinless.

3) “The how of the incarnation is inscrutable, the why is incomprehensible, the fact undeniable.”
I wish I knew who first said that. In fact, I wish I had thought of it. It took me some time to gain a sincere appreciation for the way Matthew introduces the birth of Jesus to us, but the more I consider it the more amazed I am at the simplicity in the infinitely complexity of it. I think I heard R. G. Lee say something like that a few times.


A. The Angel Gabriel Announced the Birth of Jesus to Mary (Luke 1:26-35).

An angel of the Lord had appeared to Zechariah and announced that his wife would give birth to a child and the child would be named John. We know him as John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah. Six months later the angel Gabriel appeared to a young virgin named Mary and announced that she would be the mother of the promised, and long awaited Messiah. Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph from the town of Nazareth in Galilee.

B. An Angel Appeared to Joseph to Tell Him Mary Would Give Birth to the Messiah.

“The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly (1:18-19).

“But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-21).

The angel of the Lord told Joseph the baby’s name would be Immanuel, which means “God is with us.”


The Genealogy of Jesus Christ really is “sump’m.” Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus is perfect. Not one person listed in His earthly genealogy could make that claim. However, their being male, female, bond, free, moral, or immorally did not prevent their being included in the genealogy of Jesus.

There is still more. When Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” He did not restrict that invitation to Jews, men, young, old, rich, poor, wise or foolish. The hymn is right, “Whosoever surely meaneth me.”

“Whosoever” includes liars and thieves, murderers and rapists, robbers, and burglars - all of whom I have seen come to Jesus for His great salvation. The Lord led me to the maximum security section of the Hinds County Jail in Jackson, Mississippi on two different occasions after the local paper announced that a murderer had been arrested and was being held in that jail. I saw both of those murderers accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Am I convinced that they were really saved? Absolutely! As much as anyone one else I have ever seen receive Jesus as Savior. I had the opportunity to preach to, and visit with both of those men in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman several month later. When I talked with those men they were wearing prison uniforms, but they were free from the eternal penalty for their sins. I failed to stay in touch with Tommy and Taylor, but I am going to have plenty of time to visit with them some day.

Our Lord’s invitation also includes the ten year old girl or the twelve year old boy who has known very little of the evils of the world, but who, nonetheless, is lost in sin. Whosoever includes you and me. Now, that really is something!


 “And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17, NKJV).