Matthew 1:1-17 - Unexpected Glory in a Family Tree

Advent 2023  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:16
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God frequently chooses that which is damaged or broken to magnify His glory.

“Better Ingredients/Better Pizza” – 2013 Pizza slogan
Just as our youthgroup boys spent the better part of a week discussing if a taco is a sandwich, we could probably fill the rest of the day on the question of if pineapple belongs on a pizza.
What makes an ingredient “better”? I’m sure bitter is not better according to this nursery rhyme I heard from my mother.
But this story I received from Phyllis Talkington convinces that sometimes the key to deliciousness is not in the contribution of individual ingredients.
One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer. The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said,”Lord, I hate buttermilk.” The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going. The deacon continued, “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the pastor was totally perplexed. The deacon continued, “Lord, I ain’t too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix ’em all together and bake ’em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits.” “Lord, help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don’t like, whenever we don’t understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and see what You are making. After You get through mixing and baking, it’ll probably be something even better than biscuits. Amen
This morning is not a cooking show, so we’ll move on. But the point is that what we expect is not necessarily what works best in God’s perfect plan.
The gospel author Matthew set out to prove that Jesus is the worthy king of God’s people and he begins by sketching out a family tree.
Transition: Just as bitter butter doesn’t belong in batter and salty fish doesn’t belong on pizza, in this family tree we find some branches that seem out of place, but they make the final product all the more glorious!

Jesus’ Legal Claim to Reign (v.17)

This genealogy is not exhaustive, it is representative with the subsections of 14 to help in memory.
In the first testament Genesis describes what God made ex nihilo – out of nothing. In the 2nd testament the words genealogy and the father of are the Greek gennao – so both testaments start with Genesis. This is the story of what God made, but in the Old testament He was first cause, in this genealogy God makes through those He had made, until the last!!
Just as God has the right to determine how the world is used because He created it, He has the right to determine how the world must respond to the Christ (the Messiah He sent).

3 sections of the Tree

1. Roots – Abraham to David (vv.2-6)
2. Trunk – David to Jechoniah (deportation) (vv.7-11)
3. Branches – Jechoniah to THE Christ. (vv.12-16)
Those of us in Kansas know quite well the impact of wind upon trees. Each year we see trees surrender their leaves and the tree lives on until new leaves bud in Spring. We’ve seen branches blow off trees, yet the tree continues to live. (We have only to look at the Bradford Pears on the East of our parking lot to see this in practice). Occasionally we see trees uprooted and we observe that a trunk removed from its roots soon dries up and perishes. Ever since the Babylonian exile, the family tree never had a fully reigning king, even though the family line continued (even to this day). The remaining roots authenticate Jesus’ right to rule even if they had no earthly kingdom and their land was occupied by various empires. Jesus’ right to reign was not self-imposed, it was rooted in God’s sovereign rule from Abraham to David (including exile to Egypt, return to the Land, and Captivity by Assyrians and Babylonians and occupation by Rome).

Was born (v.16)

1. Joseph is identified as the husband of Mary, not the Father of Jesus!
Next week we will look in even more detail at Joseph’s role in all of this in the 2nd part of this chapter.
2. Jesus is identified in v.1 as the son of David and Abraham, but He is never identified in this list as the son of Josheph.
3. Each generation listed included an Active voice – in grammar active voice indicates who causes action to occur. The text before us does not include any active voice between Joseph and Jesus, the voice changes to passive – Jesus was born.
4. Joseph was the legal source of Jesus’ right to be king, but Joseph had no role in the source of Jesus’ arrival.
5. The change indicates that this child had no beginning in the way that the previous 41 came into being. Jesus is the eternal Son. Yes the birth marked the entrance of Jesus into this world, but it did not mark the beginning of His existence. The previous 41 began in the normal event of conception, but Jesus never began, He always has been!
Transition: The common roots of the Hebrews and the Davidic line to Jesus set Messiah apart from all other kings. But the roots have produced some unlikely branches!

5 Unexpected shoots

Most families have some type of fruit or nut in the branches. If you can’t identify your relative who is nuttier than a fruitcake, he just MAY be lurking in your bathroom mirror.
Jesus’s genealogy also has some whom are used by God, while their appearance may be unexpected, the fact that God places them in the line of the perfect Messiah makes their presence all the more glorious.
Since I already told you that the groups of 14 names are representative of participation in an overall plan, The fact that Matthew chose to include these unexpected 5 is even more remarkable. Why didn’t he skip these, as he skipped others in the family line? Why did he include these 5, but not the other 37 mothers?
I believe there is something significant to each of these 5, especially since the first 3 are Gentiles listed in a Jewish genealogy, that just may indicate how God can bring gloryout of your questionable pedigree or position.

A MistreatedWoman - Tamar (Mt 1:3)

Tamar is introduced in Gen 38, a chapter that interrupts the story of Joseph in Gen 37–50 (e.g., Speiser, Genesis, 299).
After suggesting that his brother Joseph be sold into slavery, Judah leaves his family to live with Hirah the Adullamite. He marries a Canaanite, and has three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah (Gen 38:1–5). Once his eldest son, Er, reaches adulthood, Judah obtains a wife for him—Tamar.
Tamar and Er’s marriage ends abruptly when God takes Er’s life because he was “evil in the sight of the Lord” (Gen 38:7). Though the narrator does not specify the nature of Er’s evil, this word also describes the doomed men of Sodom in Gen 13:13.
Tamar is left without a child to claim Er’s inheritance.[i]
Er’s brother and Er’s father both mistreat Tamar.
She is both a victim and architect of deceit, yet God uses her son to preserve the line from Abraham to David.
Transition: from a Gentile who acted deceitfully, we move ahead hundreds of years to the next woman who is involved in…

A Shamed Profession - Rahab (Mt 1:5)

In Joshua 2, Rahab plays a critical role in the Israelite conquest of Canaan by rescuing two of Joshua’s spies, whom he had sent to Jericho prior to battle.
Joshua 2:1 introduces her as “a prostitute named Rahab.” The two Israelite spies spend the night at Rahab’s house or inn. When the king of Jericho learns of the spies and sends a party to arrest them, Rahab hides the spies and deceives the searchers.
She delivers a powerful speech to the spies describing how her people had heard of the great victories of the Lord and how their hearts melted with fear before the Israelites. Hess notes that this is “one of the longest uninterrupted statements by a woman in a biblical narrative” (Hess, Joshua, 88).
Rahab secures a promise from the spies that, in return for her kindness to them, she and her family will be spared in the imminent battle (Josh 2:8–14).[ii]
Just as the Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 can mean either a virgin or a young woman, the word used to describe Rahab can mean anyone employed in the hospitality industry, but the Greek word used in Hebrews and James is specifically for someone involved in the sex trade.
Transition: Perhaps it is because of Rahab’s occupation that Boaz shows kindness to the 3rd woman in this list.

A Shaded Family - Ruth (Mt 1:5)

I say her family was shady because she was an immigrant. This 3rdwoman is not a Canaanite (as Tamar & Rahab) but she was a Moabitess, a point made 7x in the short 4 chapters of the book of Ruth.
Ruth is noted for her extraordinary loyalty and care for her mother-in-law, Naomi, after both women are widowed—which results in Ruth marrying into the line from which the Davidic dynasty later descends.
At the start of the story, Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons migrate to Moab to escape a famine in Bethlehem. While there, Elimelech dies, and his sons Mahlon and Chilion marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. After about 10 years, both sons die, leaving their widows alone with Naomi (Ruth 1:12). Naomi decides to return to her homeland in search of sustenance (Ruth 1:6), Ruth pledges to stay with Naomi—not only on the journey, but forever (Ruth 1:16, 17).
News of Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law circulates throughout Bethlehem (Ruth 2:11, 3:12) and earns her respect (Ruth 3:11). She catches the attention of Boaz, a wealthy relative of Naomi (Ruth 2:8–14). Boaz expresses hope that Ruth will find sustenance and shelter underneath the “wings” of Yahweh.[iii]
Transition: There were also unlikely woman from within Israel who make this short list of Jesus’ family tree.

A Sorrowful Situation – the wife of Uriah (MT 1:6)

You can go back to last week’s message on our website if you desire more information about David’s interactions with Bathsheba.
Before she becomes David’s wife she loses a husband to battle and shortly after becoming wife to the king, she loses her son.
Her story ends quite well with her 2nd son becoming one the Scriptures describe as the wisest man to ever live. But before this comes to be, she lives through some of the darkest experiences a woman can live.
Transition: From the time of David some 1,000 years pass before we are introduced to another woman in Jesus’ genealogy.

A Shrouded Maiden - Mary (Mt 1:16 )

Mary is not shrouded in shame or sorrow. She is simply an obscure young lady from an unknown family in a small village in Galilee.
We don’t know anything about Mary’s parents and the only thing we know about her extended family is that she was cousin to a priest’s wife.
None of these 5 would appear on the society’s calendar of up and coming stars. None would have been listed in Who’s Who of ancient heroines.
Victims, Scoundrels & Nobodies are all part of the story of the arrival of the God-man within human existence.
Transition: Just as God used unlikely branches in the family tree of Messiah, He continues to perform a glorious masterpiece through unlikely instruments. Have you considered the music He is playing through you?

God’s Glorious Purpose for You

God’s glorious purpose works generations in advance

I don’t believe any of our church family are first generation Americans. Long before any of us were born God was at work in moving the people and arranging the places that would put you in this place at this time.
It is God’s mercy that none of us were born in a place where the name of Jesus is unheard or silenced.

God’s glorious purpose is not derailed by others’ opinions

Each of the 5 women mentioned in this list went against the flow of public opinion.
These women went against the grain and overcame obstacles to be placed in positions of honor that we remember now 2,000 years later.
Others may consider you just as undesirable as these women were in their times. You may have been victimized, oppressed, ignored or discarded, but that does NOT hinder God from using you as an instrument of His glory!

God’s glorious purpose is not sidetracked by your perceived limitations

Moses thought his criminal past or his faltering use of language would make him unusable.
David was only a shepherd with a sling and 5 stones.
Peter thought his denials would render him no more use than to return to fishing.
These examples of Biblical heroes ought to remind us that little becomes much when we offer it to our God.
Transition: Jesus did not just appear out of nowhere. God was working a plan at just the right time in just the right place among just the right people to guarantee an eternal result.


God loves you - and is willing and able to work through whatever happens
No matter how badly we mess up - we can’t ruin God’s promises nor delay His intentions
Our darkest nights and worst mistakes can’t derail God’s plans
Both our best and our worst work to maximize His glory
When God works His perfect plan through weak and shameful people, He gets the glory
You may see yourself as cracked, chipped, broken, and incomplete…
But it is those very imperfections that allow others to see God’s glory in you. Where you are whole, people see the vessel. Where you have been broken, people see the glory of God!
You may see yourself dried up like flour or distasteful as buttermilk, but remember that God is finishing a dish that is better than biscuits!
Song of Response #359... “Jesus is Lord of All
[i] Pettus, David D. 2016. “Tamar, Daughter-in-Law of Judah.” In The Lexham Bible Dictionary, edited by John D. Barry, David Bomar, Derek R. Brown, Rachel Klippenstein, Douglas Mangum, Carrie Sinclair Wolcott, Lazarus Wentz, Elliot Ritzema, and Wendy Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. [ii] Moore, Scott R. 2016. “Rahab the Prostitute.” In The Lexham Bible Dictionary, edited by John D. Barry, David Bomar, Derek R. Brown, Rachel Klippenstein, Douglas Mangum, Carrie Sinclair Wolcott, Lazarus Wentz, Elliot Ritzema, and Wendy Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. [iii] Rickett, R. Brian. 2016. “Ruth.” In The Lexham Bible Dictionary, edited by John D. Barry, David Bomar, Derek R. Brown, Rachel Klippenstein, Douglas Mangum, Carrie Sinclair Wolcott, Lazarus Wentz, Elliot Ritzema, and Wendy Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
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