************ Advent Sermon on Matthew 1:1 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 10, 2017
"Jesus the King"
Who is Jesus? Matthew tells us Jesus is King. As we go through the gospel we see Jesus presented as King. We see Jesus rejected as King. And, we see the promise of Jesus returning as the triumphant King.
I Jesus is King
A In the first verse of his gospel already, Matthew presents Jesus as King:
(Mt 1:1) A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of AbrahamNotice that word "Christ." The Hebrew title is Messiah or King. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King, the King of the Jews. Jesus is presented as King. So, in our minds we are to see a crown on His Head, a scepter in His hand, and royal colors on His back.
As we page through his gospel, we notice Matthew keeps presenting Jesus as King. For instance, Jesus' ancestry has royalty.
The announcement of Jesus' birth disturbs King Herod. Why? Because Jesus is seen as a rival to Herod's throne.
The wise men offer Him royal gifts.
Early in the gospel we hear John the Baptist proclaiming that the King and His Kingdom is near. Jesus proclaimed the same message of the Kingdom.
Do you remember the third temptation Satan put before Jesus? Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. Satan was acknowledging Jesus' right to rule.
In His miracles, Jesus demonstrated His rule over all things: sickness, demons, storms, wind, bread, fish, pigs, death and the grave. There was nothing that wasn't under King Jesus.
In His teachings, especially His parables, Jesus set forth the mysteries of the Kingdom.
Jesus was hailed as the Son of David by the blind and demon-possessed. He was greeted as the Son of David by the Palm Sunday crowds.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus claimed dominion over the angels when He said He could have called twelve legions of them to His defense.
In His last words before the Ascension, Jesus claims rule and authority as King:
(Mt 28:18-19) "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Therefore go and make disciples ..."
Do you see what Matthew does throughout his gospel? Matthew presents Jesus as King.
B Matthew also tells us that Jesus is rejected as King. Looming over Jesus throughout the entire gospel is the shadow of rejection. It started already when all of Jerusalem is disturbed rather than delighted by the news of His birth. King Herod, who claimed to be the king of the Jews, seeks to kill Him. In Matthew's gospel, no angel choir sings on the plains of Bethlehem; instead, mothers weep in anguish as their babies are slaughtered. The rejection continued with the Pharisees who found many reasons to hate Him and reject Him: for forgiving sins, eating with tax collectors and sinners, allowing His disciples to skip fasting, healing a demon-possessed man. We see further rejection when His own people scream for His crucifixion instead of submitting to His rule.
The rejection reaches its finale on the cross. There Jesus cries out to God, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Forsaken by all, even by God.
Jesus is the rejected King.
C Towards the end of his gospel Matthew tells us Jesus will return as the triumphant King. No gospel lays as much emphasis on the second coming as does Matthew's. Matthew 25 has those parables about the second coming we all love to hear: the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the Parable of the Talents, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. In Matthew 24 we see the signs of the end of the age. We are told the Son of Man will come on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. The conclusion: Jesus is the triumphant King Who someday will return.
II The Genealogy of the King
A From beginning to end, the gospel of Matthew is about Jesus as King. He is presented as King. He is rejected as King. He returns as the triumphant King.
Now that you know the context, let us look at our text and Bible reading this morning as it reveals Jesus to be King. According to Matthew, it starts with Jesus' family tree. Back then, you need to realize, if a king is to be received as king, if a king is to be believed as king, if a king is to have any credibility as king, if anybody is to accept him as king, then it needs to be shown that he comes from a royal line.
There was a royal line in Israel: the House of David. Through the prophet Nathan a promise was given to David:
(2 Sam 7:12-14) When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. (13) He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (14) I will be his father, and he will be my son.This promise was never fulfilled in Solomon. And so the children of Israel waited and waited for an offspring of David who fulfills the prophecy. According to this prophecy, the King, the Messiah, the Christ, has to be a son of David.
In calling Jesus the "son of David" Matthew declares Jesus is the fulfilment of this prophecy. To be King, to have the right to rule, Jesus has to be a royal son of David.
B To prove this, to prove that Jesus is a royal son of David, Matthew lists the family tree of Jesus.
Family trees were important to the Jews. We see this, for instance, when the Jews entered the Promised Land. If you remember, the whole land was divided according to tribes. Each tribe and each clan and each family was given its own portion of the land. In order to know where you were going to live in the Promised Land, you needed to know your tribe and clan and family. Family trees were essential.
Family trees were also essential at the time of Ezra. This was after the Babylonian captivity when the people started coming back to the Promised Land. Among those who came back were those who claimed to be priests. You need to remember God did not let just anyone be a priest. To be a high priest you needed to be of the family of Aaron. To be a priest you needed to be of the tribe of Levi. Anyone claiming the right to the priesthood has to prove that right on the basis of genealogy. So what did they do at the time of Ezra? They searched the family records. And if their name was not found in the records they were not allowed to be priests.
Fast forward to the New Testament. Where did Joseph go to register for the census of the Roman world? He went to Bethlehem the town of David. Why? Because he belonged to the house and line of David. Do you remember how the Apostle Paul identified himself? In Romans 11 he said, "I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin" (Rom 11:1). Telling us what? Telling us that family trees were still important at the time of Joseph and Jesus and Paul.
Did you know this is no longer the case today? If I were to ask my Jewish friends their tribe and clan and family, I would get a blank look. They have absolutely no record of family trees today. None. They can't trace it at all. It is completely, totally vanished, gone. No Jew in the world today can ever prove they are a son of David. Why is this important? Because there are some Orthodox Jews who believe the Messiah is still going to come. Now, remember, the Messiah needs to be a son of David; however, there is no way to prove that they are a son of David.
C Family trees were essential to the Jews. The Jews knew their family trees. Say a name and they could trace the person's history, their ancestry, all the way back to David or even to Abraham. Why am I saying this? If Matthew, or anyone else for that matter, said someone was king, it was absolutely essential that person be part of the family tree of King David. So family trees -- genealogies -- like we have before us this morning were absolutely essential to the Jews.
This brings us back to our text this morning. How does Matthew begin his gospel?
(Mt 1:1) A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham ...Do you know what Matthew is saying? That Jesus is a son of David. That Jesus is part of Jewish royalty. That Jesus is King.
We are not going to look at every single name in this genealogy of Jesus. The point isn't to know each name but to see that Jesus can trace His family tree back to David and even to Abraham.
You might realize that Jesus' genealogy is also recorded in the gospel of Luke. In Matthew what is listed is the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph. In Luke what is listed is the genealogy of Jesus through Mary. Matthew's genealogy starts with Abraham whereas Luke's genealogy starts with Jesus. Matthew's genealogy shows us the royal line whereas Luke's genealogy shows us the blood line. But both genealogies include David. So whether you look at Joseph or whether you look at Mary, Jesus is the son of David.
Matthew's Jewish audience realized the significance of what Matthew was saying. They got the message. They knew their genealogies. They knew their family trees. They knew Matthew is establishing that Jesus has the right to be King, that Jesus truly is King.
D Matthew had to do this right at the start of his gospel. Matthew had to establish right away that Jesus is King, Christ, Messiah. Because Jesus' claim to be the Christ or Messiah was contested. We all know that King Herod tried to kill Jesus. But Herod was not the only one to contest Jesus' claim to be King. Consider what happened when Jesus went to Nazareth.
(Mt 13:54-57) Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked. (55) "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (56) Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" (57) And they took offense at him.To their way of thinking, Jesus didn't have the right to claim anything. He was a carpenter's son -- someone lowly. Not someone important. Not someone kingly. Who is He? He is from Nazareth of all places. He is a nobody from nowhere.
So Matthew considers all the resistance to Jesus as Messiah, Christ, King and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he writes down the genealogy of Jesus. As far as Matthew is concerned there is no question that Jesus is the royal son of David.
III The King is also the Savior
A "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham ..."
This Jesus is King. Matthew has established that. But He is also the Savior. His name is Jesus. Jesus. The Old Testament equivalent is Joshua. A name that means "Jehovah saves." But, then, early in his gospel Matthew explains why His name needs to be Jesus. An angel appears to Joseph and says:
(Mt 1:21) "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
So the King is also the Savior. He Who has the right to rule also has the power to save.
Joy to the world! the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy ...
The King is also the Savior. We celebrate that in this season of Christmas. We look at His birth in the light of the cross.
B You need to realize the two are connected. The Jews didn't see this, but we certainly do. We look at Isaiah and we realize the Messiah, the Christ, the King is also the Suffering Servant.
(Isa 53:3) He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.We realize He received His crown because He suffered and died. After He humbled Himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross -- God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of King Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.
C The King is also the Savior. You can't bow before Him until He has first saved you. You can't bow before Him unless He has taken away your sins.
So I end by asking if Jesus is your King. Have you received the King? It won't happen, it can't happen, unless He is also your Savior from sin. And, then, out of thankfulness, out of devotion, out of love, out of obedience, you submit to Him Who is your King.
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