From the last prophecy in Malachi to the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, 400 years had elapsed. Four hundred silent years where no miracles occurred. No prophets. No voice of God. The heavens were silent. As a matter of fact, the last word given in Malachi, the last book of the OT, was “destruction” or “curse.”
To a Jew living at the time just before Jesus’ birth, the unspoken question was, “Has God abandoned us?” What were they to think about all of the promises made to them in the Old Testament? What about the covenants God had made?
The opening verse of Matthew (1:1), seen through the eyes of the Jewish people, help us to see the incredible grace of God in sending the promised hope that they longed for. But this promise was not only to the Jewish people, but it was a promise of hope for all of us.
In the Gospel of Matthew we see the glorious realities of Jesus as the King of Kings. He is the King of Heaven who came down to earth. He preached a gospel of the Kingdom. He showed the power and authority of the mightiest of kings. And He showed in His life, death and resurrection that He has power over even death itself. Although rejected by men, Jesus sits at the right hand of his Father in heaven and is coming soon to wage war with his enemies and to take his rightful place as Lord and Sovereign over all of creation.
In this blog post, as we come close to Christmas day, I would like to look at the four descriptive names of the king in Matthew 1:1.
Jesus: Yeshua, Yehoshua, Joshua
This is the name given to Jesus by Mary and Joseph, as commanded by God through His angel in Matthew 1:21. Yeshua means “Jehovah is Salvation” in Hebrew. Although it sounds to us like Jesus is his first name and Christ is his last, this is not the case. Christ is his title (See vv. 16, 17).
Verse 1 tells us that we are about to hear about the genealogy of Jesus. “Genealogy” is the Greek word genesis which means “birth, offspring, lineage or family tree. It probably reminds you of the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, which refers to the “beginnings” or “generations” that are so prominent in that book. So this is the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life. But this is not the beginning of Jesus’ existence. John 1:2 tells us that Jesus existed in the beginning with God. Therefore, this is his earthly beginning, or the story of how he came to earth to be the King.
Christ: Messiah, Anointed One
As was mentioned earlier, Christ is a title. It means “Anointed One” or “Chosen One.” This anointing refers to the Old Testament practice of pouring a special scented oil over the head, beard and clothing of those chosen for the special offices of prophet, priest and king. You can see this in Elisha (prophet; 1Kg 19:16), Aaron (high priest; Ex 28:41), and Saul (king; 1Sam 10:1).
Jesus came as the Anointed One, chosen by God to be the Savior of his people. Imagine that you are living in this time when God had been silent for 400 years, and now the hope of Israel and the world is given a name—Jesus! But many had made claims to be a savior of the Jews and sought to bring about great changes. One such false messiah, Theudas, is mentioned in Acts 5:36-37.
At the time of the writing of Matthew, possibly a mere 20 years after Jesus returned to heaven, there were many who still doubted the truth about Jesus the Messiah. The religious elite of the time considered Jesus a fraud, a usurper to the throne. It is here that we begin to see the value of a family tree for Jesus—proof positive that Jesus was in the family line of the great King of Israel, David.
The Son of David
The term “son of” is not always used literally in the Bible. “Son of” can refer to any ancestor, even a distant one. Jesus is here called the “son of David.” The Messiah had to come through the family of King David as was promised by God.
Second Samuel 7:12-13 says, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
Likewise, Psalm 89: 3-4 says, “You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’” Verses 35-37 go on to say, “Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.”
How would a Jew looking at verse one have reacted to hearing Jesus called “Son of David?” It was like a long-awaited mystery was finally being solved right before their eyes.The Jewish people had waited thousands of years for the revealing of this Son of David, and now they would hear about him!
The Son of Abraham
As if it isn’t enough for Matthew to connect Jesus’ family tree to the great king David, the height of Israel’s history, he also connects Jesus to the very father of the nation-Abraham!
In Gen 12:1-3, the promises made to Abraham and his family not only included the promise of blessing for God’s chosen people Israel, but in verse 3; the promise of blessing extends to all the families of the earth. What was that blessing?
The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3:8:
“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
Galatians 3:16 adds,
“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. Jesus, the Messiah, is himself the blessing given to all the nations of the earth.”
Jesus- Jehovah is salvation
Christ- The Chosen One of God
Son of David-The eternal ruling King
Son of Abraham-The promised blessing of God to the world
This is Jesus the King. Do you know the King?
There were many in Jesus’ day who expected him to come, but did not know him when he came. They expected a conquering warrior. They expected a political powerhouse. They expected a wealthy aristocrat.
God sent his Son as a helpless baby.
God sent his Son into a poor carpenter’s home.
God sent his Son to be ridiculed and scorned.
God sent his Son to die.
For your sins.
In your place.
For you to receive heaven while he took on the weight of the wrath of God set against your sins.
You see, God demonstrated his strength and might, his mercy and love on the cross.
Jesus is the King—and it is amazing to think that a King would die for a wretched sinner like you and me, but he did.
Let us remember our King this Christmas.