THE WORDING OF the first verse of the New Testament directs our thoughts back to the first book of the Old, inasmuch as “generation” is the translation of the Greek word, genesis. Matthew in particular, and the whole New Testament in general, is “The book of the genesis of Jesus Christ.” When we refer back to Genesis, we find that book divides into eleven sections, and all of them save the first begin with a statement about “generations.” The third section commences, “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Matthew 5:1); and the whole Old Testament unrolls for us the sad story of Adam and his race, ending with terrible appropriateness in the word, “curse.” With what great relief we can turn from the generations of Adam to “the generation of Jesus Christ,” for here we shall find the introduction of grace; and upon that note the New Testament ends.
Jesus is at once presented in a two-fold way. He is Son of David, and hence the royal crown that God originally bestowed on David belongs to Him. He is also Son of Abraham, hence He has the title to the land and all the promised blessing is vested in Him. Having stated this, we are given His genealogy, from Abraham, through Joseph the husband of Mary. This would be His official genealogy, according to Jewish reckoning. The list given is remarkable for its omissions, since three kings, closely connected with the infamous Athaliah, are omitted in verse Matthew 1:8; and the summary as to the “fourteen generations,” given in verse 17, shows that it is not an accidental omission, but that God disowns and refuses to reckon the kings that sprang more immediately from this devotee of Baal-worship.
It is remarkable also, inasmuch as the names of only four women are brought into it, and those not all such names as we might have expected. Two of the four were Gentiles, which must have been somewhat damaging to Jewish pride: both of them women of striking faith, though one of them had lived in the immorality which characterized the heathen world. Of the other we know nothing but what is good. The other two came of the stock of Israel, yet of both the record is bad, and of neither do we know anything which is definitely creditable. Indeed Bathsheba’s name is not mentioned; she is merely “her... of Urias,” thus proclaiming her discredit. So again all is damaging to Jewish pride. Our Lord’s genealogy added nothing to Him. Yet it guaranteed His genuine Manhood, and that the rights vested in David and Abraham were legally His.
But if the first 17 verses assure us that Jesus was really a man, the remaining verses equally assure us that He was much more than a Man, even God Himself, present among us. By an angelic messenger Joseph, the betrothed husband of Mary is told that her coming child is the fruit of the action of the Holy Ghost, and that when born He is to bear the name of Jesus. He should save His people from their sins, therefore Saviour is to be His name. Only God is able to name in view of future accomplishments. He can do so, and how fully has this great name been justified! What a harvest of saved humanity will be garnered in days to come, all of them saved from their sins, and not merely from the judgment which their sins deserved! Only “His people” are saved thus. To know His salvation one must be enrolled amongst them by faith in Him.
Thus was fulfilled the prediction of Isaiah 7:14, where a clear indication had been given of the greatness and power of the coming Saviour. His prophetic Name, Emmanuel, indicated that He should be God manifested in the flesh—God amongst us in a far more wonderful way than ever He was manifested in the midst of Israel in the days of Moses, far more wonderful also than the way in which He was with Adam in the days before sin entered into the world. The two names are intimately connected. To have God with us, apart from our being saved from our sins, would be impossible: His presence would only overwhelm us in judgment. To be saved from our sins, without God being brought to us might have been possible, but the story of grace would have lost its chief glory. In the coming of Jesus we have both. God has been brought to us and our sins being removed, we have been brought to Him.
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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Matthew 1". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany