A Redemptive-Historical Family Tree

The better part of Jesus’ legal genealogy contains reference to the many figures who structure the narrative of redemptive history in the Old Covenant.

There is a depiction of the way in which God foreshadowed the redemptive incorporation of the Gentiles into His overarching purposes in the story of Boaz and Ruth (Matt. 1:5). Then there is a reflection on the way in which God, in His infinite wisdom, used the murderous and adulterous sin of David in order to raise up the Solomon, the son of David, to be the great type of the One who is Himself the wisdom of God, and the Prince of Peace (Matt. 1:6).

 

God has woven some of the most glorious redemptive-historical details into Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ. It is fitting that, at the fulness of the time, we should see how all the things foretold by the prophets would be fulfilled in the person of Christ. Matthew introduces the genealogy by telling us that Jesus is the long awaited “son of Abraham” and the promised “son of David” (Matt. 1:1). In short, Matthew is telling us that Jesus is the true Israel and the King of Kings. This is, no doubt, Jesus’ genealogy through his legal father, Joseph. It is showing us that He is the rightful heir to the throne of David, by way of legal representation. But, there is so much more that Matthew is telling us.

The better part of Jesus’ legal genealogy contains reference to the many figures who structure the narrative of redemptive history in the Old Covenant. For instance, there is a depiction of the way in which God foreshadowed the redemptive incorporation of the Gentiles into His overarching purposes in the story of Boaz and Ruth (Matt. 1:5). Then there is a reflection on the way in which God, in His infinite wisdom, used the murderous and adulterous sin of David in order to raise up the Solomon, the son of David, to be the great type of the One who is Himself the wisdom of God, and the Prince of Peace (Matt. 1:6).

Furthermore, we cannot read Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew without recognizing the way in which Jesus puts Himself in the lineage of a long line of notorious sinners. After all, He came into the world to be “numbered with the transgressors” (Is. 53:12) in order to take away the sin of the world (Matt. 1:21). We see this so clearly in the deceptive scheming of Jacob, the scandalous encounter between Judah and Tamar, the heinous sin of David, the backsliding of Solomon, the foolishness of Rehoboam, the wickedness of Manasseh, etc.

Glorious as these truths may be, there is still more. At the beginning of the genealogy, Matthew mentions three major epochs in Israel’s history: fourteen generation from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from David to the Exile. The two redemptive-historical periods–from Abraham to David, and from David to the Exile–mark the totality of Israel’s history as God’s people waited for the promised of deliverance. The genealogy of Christ is more than a mere record of lineage. It introduces us to Christ as the fulfillment of the entirety of Israel’s promises; and, it prepares us for the idea of Christ is the one who recapitulates Israel’s history in order to fulfill those promises.

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