Reading: MATTHEW 1 v 1 - 17
It’s not the most engaging way to begin any letter, but Matthew knew what he was doing. Writing to a Jewish audience Matthew understood the importance of placing Jesus at the heart of Jewish heritage as well as pointing to Jesus as the fulfilment of their heavenly destiny.
Matthew breaks periods of history into three, fourteen generational groups: Stage One: Abraham to David - the discovery of Canaan to the high point of the nation’s greatest king. From here Matthew connects the reader to the period of Solomon to the exile (Stage Two) - a time of loss, shame and ultimately enslavement for the Jewish people and then finally, Stage Three, the period from post exile to Christ - a more optimistic period when the Jews returned home after the exile culminating in Jesus occupying the crowning position.
In his commentary on Matthew, William Barclay notes ‘the three stages of the journey stand for three stages in the spiritual history of mankind:’
Stage 1 - we were born for greatness, to live in community with God, to follow, worship and represent him;
Stage 2 - we lost our greatness. Left to ourselves, we frustrate the plans of God, pervert His design for life and society, becoming slaves to our choices and sin;
Stage 3 - we can regain our greatness through faith in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can liberate us from our sin and remove its effects from our lives. Jesus restores us to fellowship and a future with God the Father.
By starting his book the way he did, Matthew was doing more than reviewing the family tree. He was revealing to us that in Christ, hope is coming - a new way back to a life with God is coming.
‘Dear God, thank you for your unfailing plan for me and everyone in the world. May I live in the greatness Christ won for me on the Cross; to worship, follow and represent you every day. Amen.