“Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”—Matthew 1:16.
This is the great event or fact in earth’s history; out of which are unfolded the eternal issues of this globe and its inhabitants. This is the little fountain out of which the greatest of rivers flows.
Reading this verse in connection with the whole chapter, we mark such truths as the following:—
1. Jesus is the Christ. In Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of the carpenter, himself a carpenter (Mark 6:3), we see the Christ of God. His name is Jesus, Jehovah the Saviour (or Joshua), because He saves his people from their sins; and also Christ or Messiah, because He is the anointed One, filled with the Spirit, without measure. The expression, “called Christ,” like the words, “thou sayest,” means that He is what He is called: “the Christ of God,”—the Messiah promised to the Fathers.
2. He has a human ancestry. Here we have “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ.” His whole ancestry is as thoroughly human as ours can be. Every link of the chain is human; not angelic, not miraculous. It is a long chain, sometimes almost broken or worn through; but thus all the more thoroughly human. He is the seed of the woman; the man Christ Jesus. He is very man, out of the loins of Abraham, and of the substance of the Virgin; son of Mary and son of Adam.
3. He has a Jewish ancestry. He is of the seed of Abraham. Salvation was to be of the Jews, and He is a Jew; it was in the seed of Abraham that all nations were to be blessed, and He is a son of Abraham. He took not the nature of angels, but He took the seed of Abraham. Such was God’s purpose, and such was the fulfillment of it in Jesus the Christ. The Saviour of the world was to be a Jew, The King of kings now sitting on the throne of heaven is a Jew.
4. He has a Gentile ancestry. That is to say, there are Gentiles among his forefathers, such as Rahab the Canaanite, and Ruth the Moabite, and Bathsheba the Hittite. Though, strictly speaking, his ancestry was Jewish, yet Gentiles mingled with it, to shew that all nations were interested in Him, and in his work. Far off and near are connected with this Jesus, who is called Christ. Salvation begins at Jerusalem, but does not end there. “God so loved the world that He gave his Son.” In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
5. He has a royal ancestry. He is son of David and Solomon, the last of a long line of kings. He is the root and offspring of David; the rod from the stem of Jesse, the branch from his roots. All that is regal in a human pedigree is here. In one sense this is but a small thing; yet it was befitting Him who is King of kings to be thus honoured, and to have his divine prerogatives symbolized by his human.
6. He has a lowly ancestry. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not great or mighty men; they are but shepherds, dwelling in tents. So was David a shepherd boy, taken from among the flocks. So was Joseph, and so was Mary,—poor in this world; a carpenter and his wife. There is a singular mixture of the high and low, of the rich and poor. For He is the Saviour of rich and poor. His gospel is equally for both.
7. He has a holy ancestry. The line through which He comes is the Church, the election of God, the believing men of Israel. In his pedigree, we have Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Boaz, Jesse, David, Solomon, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah. Thus God has honoured Him; thus He has honoured these holy men; thus He has put honour upon holiness. He is the Holy One; and He comes of holy men and women.
8. He has an imperfect ancestry. In two ways is this the case. (1.) Even these holy men from whom he sprang were very imperfect, as we see in the sins of David and Solomon; (2.) Among his ancestors are many open sinners and idolaters, kings of Judah such as Rehoboam, Ahaz, and Jehoiakin, &c., of whom it is said that they did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yes; his genealogy is a very mixed one; but all the more on that account indicative of that which He had come to do, and of those whom He had come to save,—the ungodly, the chief of sinners, the lost, the unrighteous.
9. He has a mortal ancestry. These all died. Their connection with him did not make them immortal. Whether shepherds, or patriarchs, or kings, or carpenters, they were mortal. For out of the mortal was to come the immortal; life out of death; the everlasting One out of those whose life is a vapor; the resurrection and the life out of those who were dust and who returned to dust. Thus He is linked with our sin, though He is sinless; with our curse, though He is the blessed One.
10. He has an immortal ancestry. This is only alluded to here (in his names Jesus and Christ), not expressly stated. But as Matthew brings out the human and the mortal, so does John the immortal and the divine. He is the only begotten of the Father, the eternally begotten. Thus the “pedigree of the Lord of the hill,” as Bunyan calls it, is eternal. It was “the Word” who was made flesh.
Thus is Jesus in all respects fitted for his mighty work of redeeming. He is very man and very God. He is the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, the son of Mary, yet God over all, blessed forever. Thus He can bear our sins; He can sympathize with our sorrows; He can fight our battles; He can love as a man, a fellow man, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh.