As Christmas draws closer, the Gospel readings focus on the Gospel of Matthew, which begins with something seemingly mundane—the genealogy of Christ.
Why does Matthew start his Gospel with a genealogy? If you look at it from the point of view of a first century Jew, it’s completely captivating. These names reveal a lot about the history of God’s chosen people, and builds up to reveal the identity of the new king and Emmanuel, God with us.
Snippet from the Show
“Jesus is Christ the King and Emmanuel, God with us.”
Every name points to a prominent piece of Jewish history, but none more so than David (Matthew 1:6). This name would be famous among Jews, he was the great king who brought Israel to its highest point.
Jechoni′ah and his Brothers (7:10)
The next prominent name in the list would be Jechoni′ah and his brothers because they lived in one of the darkest moments of Jewish history, the Bablyonian exile (Matthew 1:11). It’s something that would really strike a chord as a time of darkness and oppression.
Even when they returned from exile, they had lost two important things: their king, and the Arc of the Covenant (God’s presence).
The end of this genealogy would be especially exciting, because no one in the first century knew any names after Zerub′babel (Matthew 1:13). The line of David had become hidden, and it was revealed by Matthew in this very Gospel. The end of this royal genealogy was the fulfillment of prophecies for centuries.
Jesus, Emmanuel (12:40)
Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, the messiah, the one they had been waiting for (Matthew 1:16). After being oppressed for six centuries, the king has finally returned and is called Emmanuel, God with us. His Holy Presence is going to bring about miracles, conversions, and healings, the very presence of God, returned to his people.
Even though Jesus was not actually related to Joseph, the fact that Joseph adopted him is enough to continue the inheritance of the royal line.
The Genealogy of Jesus, Matthew 1:1-16
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Ammin′adab, and Ammin′adab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Bo′az by Rahab, and Bo′az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uri′ah, and Solomon the father of Rehobo′am, and Rehobo′am the father of Abi′jah, and Abi′jah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehosh′aphat, and Jehosh′aphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi′ah, and Uzzi′ah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezeki′ah, and Hezeki′ah the father of Manas′seh, and Manas′seh the father of Amos, and Amos[g] the father of Josi′ah, and Josi′ah the father of Jechoni′ah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoni′ah was the father of She-al′ti-el, and She-al′ti-el the father of Zerub′babel, and Zerub′babel the father of Abi′ud, and Abi′ud the father of Eli′akim, and Eli′akim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eli′ud, and Eli′ud the father of Elea′zar, and Elea′zar 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.”