Introduction and the Importance of Genealogies

Genealogies are usually the parts of the Bible we like to skip. Honestly, I don’t always read most of the genealogies in the Bible. I know the genealogies can be intimidating. The names are hard and it’s easy to get lost as we read them. They’re a harder part of the Bible to read through, so we may try reading them but end up just skimming through. Or we just don’t see how these long lists of names are important, so we don’t read them at all. But over the years God has shown me how important genealogies in the Bible are, even for us in the 21st century. The genealogy we find in Matthew 1 is probably one of the most important genealogies in my opinion. It’s also my favorite. It’s beautifully deep and if we study it carefully, we can learn a lot about Jesus.

So, I was actually very excited last Sunday when Mowgli said we are going to walk through the genealogy in Matthew. I was excited not only because of what God has shown me about this genealogy in the past but also what He has shown me more recently. About a month or two ago, God led me to start studying the Gospel of Matthew in depth. I had started studying personally because I wanted to just see Jesus. When I just need to hear Jesus and remember who He is and what He has done for me, I usually read straight through all four Gospels. But this time when I started reading Matthew, God convicted me about the fact that I have read through the Gospel of Matthew many times but have never sat down to study it. So, I decided to take some time to really dig into Matthew. Of course, the first thing I read was the genealogy we are studying as a church right now. And God showed me some crazy things in this genealogy that I never knew before and led me to see Him a lot deeper. He helped me remember the importance of this genealogy.

I want to share some of what God showed me during the next few weeks. As I’ve already said, I hope these posts will complement what we talk about on Sundays but also encourage you to study Matthew’s genealogy on your own. I don’t want to just read the genealogy for you. I want to challenge you to take some time to sit down with Matthew’s genealogy for themselves and use these posts as a guide. Think of it as a conversation. I’ll share some of my thoughts as well as some tips and helpful information to help guide you through it, but I want to hear what God is showing you as well. Take your own notes, ask your own questions and try to see if you can answer them on your own. I encourage you to leave comments and share what you’re seeing and any questions. I think it would be cool for all of us to be engaging in this together as we go through this series. 

In this first post, I want to just talk briefly on why Matthew’s genealogy is important. In the next post, I’ll share some things to keep in mind as we study the genealogy.

The Importance of Matthew’s Genealogy

To understand the importance of Matthew’s genealogy, let’s first think about the circumstances behind Matthew’s Gospel as a whole. Matthew was writing to a primarily Jewish audience. These Jews were waiting to see God fulfill promises He had made them. Long ago, God promised that through Abraham’s son Isaac, the whole world would be blessed (Gen. 12). God promised David a king would come from his line and that king would rule forever (2. Sam. 7). And throughout the prophetic books, we see countless promises from God that someday a king would come from the line of David. This king would redeem God’s people and bring in God’s kingdom. Now, over 400 years have passed and so far, nothing seems to be happening. The Jews are living under the rule of another nation and this promised Messiah, this Christ, is nowhere to be seen. They believed the Christ would come; they just didn’t know when.[1]

In his Gospel, Matthew is going to claim that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the king the Jews had been waiting for. He is going to make the case that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of the promises of God, and so much more. The genealogy is his opening statement, so to speak. It’s the introduction paragraph to his essay on why Jesus is the promised king. He used the genealogy to show his fellow Jews that Jesus was who they were waiting for.

The genealogy is important for us because it reminds us that God keeps His promises, even if it takes a long time. In the genealogy, we can see God arranging everything in history to fulfill His promises to His people. God will do what He says He will do.

Matthew’s genealogy can also help us learn more about Jesus and who he is. Genealogies helped prove someone’s right to the throne or other important things. But ancient genealogies also functioned as a sort of social resume. A person’s identity was very much tied to their family. As Mowgli said in the first sermon in this series, for the Jews, you were who your family was. We live in a much more individualized society. We still value family, and family is important. But for the most part, we can separate ourselves from our family a bit more than they did in Biblical times. Your reputation is not usually based on what your great-great-great-grandparents did. But in Matthew’s day, your family tree said a lot about who you were.

 And Jesus’ genealogy says a lot about Him.

Helpful Resources:

At the bottom of each post I’ll share some of the resources I used when I was doing some of the outside research for this, so if you want to look into anything on your own, feel free. I especially recommend checking out Overview Bible and The Bible Project. Those are two I use quite often, and they are good at presenting information about the Bible in a way that’s easy to understand.

How to Read Jesus’ Genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew– Crosswalk.com

Jesus & Genealogies—The Bible Project

Overview Bible

Blue Letter Bible

  [1] Andreas J. Kostenberger and Alexander E. Stewart, “How to Read Jesus’ Genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew,” November 24, 2015, https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/how-to-read-jesus-genealogy-in-the-gospel-of-matthew.html)