We know from reading and studying Scripture that the Jews of Jesus’ time were anxiously anticipating a Messiah. They were expecting a Savior figure that would bring them out of Roman captivity and lead them into a new age of prosperity and greatness that they had not experienced since their former great leader David, hundreds of years before.
From Old Testament passages and events, we know that this Messiah had to come from a very specific lineage, the lineage of King David. God had promised David specifically in 2 Samuel 7:13-16 that his kingdom would endure forever (also see Psalm 89:30-37). God also spoke through the prophet Isaiah that this promised Messiah would come from the stump of Jesse, David’s father (read Isaiah 4:2-6, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:1-2, and Isaiah 53:1-7). If someone was going to be considered as the Savior for the Jewish people, he was going to have to first be from the line of David.
Matthew, who was a Jew writing to a Jewish audience, is well aware of this situation and begins his gospel of the account of the life of Jesus by showing in chapter 1, verse 1, that Jesus’ genealogy does, in fact, go back to King David. Matthew 1:1 reads, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham…” and then he lays out 42 prior generations to prove his point. Had you ever stopped to think what a miracle it was for God to have preserved that kingly line for all those generations? For God to honor His promise that the Messiah would come from David’s line, God would have to guarantee the presence of a surviving male descendant in every generation going forward up to Jesus’ birth. At first glance, it might not sound like all that big of an issue, until you realize how unlikely it would be in the normal course of affairs of life and death. Let’s look at a modern day example of what would be involved in keeping a male blood line intact for that much time.
Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, is perhaps America’s best known leader. President Lincoln had four sons: Robert Todd Lincoln, Edward Baker Lincoln, William Wallace Lincoln, and Thomas Lincoln. Of those four sons, one died in infancy and another died as a youth. A third died in early manhood before he was married. The only one of President Lincoln’s sons to marry was Robert Todd and he had three children; two daughters and a son. His son, however, died before he ever married. In less than three generations, approximately one hundred years from the time Lincoln was born, his direct male line had disappeared. No one today can claim to be a direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln; his blood line is extinct. Think of your own family heritage and how quickly the male blood line can disappear. Keeping David’s lineage intact for all those generations down to Mary and Joseph was an amazing miracle. God delivered on His promise when He told Mary in Luke 1:32-33 that the son she was about to give birth to would be that long-awaited Messiah who would fill David’s throne.
Peter (Acts 2:30) and Paul (Acts 13:23 and Romans 1:2-4) both confirm that Jesus was the promised Messiah from the line of David and Jesus confirms this fact himself in Revelations 22:16, when He says, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
This advent season, stop and think of what a wonderful gift we have received and the promises that were kept to give us the hope of eternal life. Merry Christmas!