“What About The Begats” Matthew 1:14-17

Tonight I’m giving you three reasons that you should love to read the genealogies in the Bible and not skip to something that you can understand.

Midweek Advent Worship  December 15, 2021

“What About The Begats”  Matthew 1:14-17

Rev. John R. Larson  Ascension Lutheran Church  Littleton, Colorado

             I heard what you said.  After I read the text and said, “This is the Word of the Lord”, some of you said the proper thing, “Thanks be to God.”  But I think some of you mumbled, “So what?”

            That is quite a text isn’t it?  “And Azor begat Zadoc; and Zadoc begat Akim; and Akim begat Eliud.”  So what?  Why is that in the Bible?  In what way is this the inspired Word of God?  When you come to church you want something down-to-earth, practical.  Why is this in here?  What about the begats?

            Maybe I got my inspiration to preach on this text from Mike Zehnder’s father, Bob.  Bob was pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran in Lakewood for a long time.  At a Pastor’s Conference that I attended Bob told us about the text he had used the previous Sunday.  It was Exodus 16:36, “An omer is one tenth of an ephah.”  He preached that on a Sunday morning but at least he didn’t preach that one at night!!

            I have three reasons why God includes genealogy in the Scripture.  The first reason is that this is human history.  The faith that we profess is not some type of mystic philosophy or some idea that someone created some time ago.  Our religion is historical.  You can trace the people.  You can know that it is real.  The begats take us from Abraham to David to Jesus.  Real people.

            You might be among the millions of people who are lovers of genealogy.  You have an ongoing registration with Ancestry.Com or something like that.  There is a fascination with knowing who your relatives are, where they came from, what they did.  It seems that every family has someone you want to brag about and someone who didn’t do the family name right, but they are there.  Real flesh.  The begats ground us into history.

            Last week I spoke about the heresy that started early in the Christian church – the denial that Jesus came in the flesh.  Flesh, to those who lived in such denial, was a thing of weakness, failure, and sin.  Jesus, they insisted could have none of that.  But John stood by the begats all the way through the life of Jesus.  In I John he would write, “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”  (I John 4:2-3)  That is why John would give the word in His gospel that says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  (John 1:14a)

            My second reason for begatting a sermon about the begats is that this wasn’t just an ordinary begat, this is the history of the salvation of the world.  “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”  (Matthew 1:16)  When the angel told the shepherds about the child, they used quite a few big words about Him, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:11)  Isn’t it something that when we use the letters BC or AD we are dividing all of history with the begatting of this child?  BC – Before Christ.  AD – Anno Domini – in the year of our Lord.

            This is salvation history.  All of what was spoken in the Old Testament had the anticipation that God would break through and bring His answer to the dilemma of mankind.  After the collapse of mankind in the Garden of Eden, God promised a day when Satan would be destroyed and the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, would triumph.  God cursed the serpent and said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”  (Genesis 3:15)  That is why a begat is important.  This was the coming of the one who could crush the head of the devil.

            Tonight I’m giving you three reasons that you should love to read these genealogies in the Bible and not skip to something that you can understand.  I’ve already given you two, remember?  The first reason is that it tells us that this faith that we hold to is historical – flesh and blood.  There is no tooth fairy stuff in all of this.  Real people.  Real events.  Secondly, this account is the very plan of God to bring us true salvation.  The one who was born is Christ Jesus, the Savior.  He champions our cause against our adversaries.  No begats = no redemption.  When the Bible says that we are chosen in Christ before the very creation of the world it means that God had a salvation plan in motion before time even began.  Wow!!

            Now the third reason.  When you read the begats they should tell you that God’s salvation of mankind is messy work.  The genealogy of Jesus is actually a messy one.  It shows to what extent God will get involved in the lives of messy, damaged people, to bring them real life.  The listing of all these “begats” was quite common in the ancient world.  Many would spend time listing the purity of their ancestors, showing how much of a “blue-blood” they were.  I read in William Barclay’s commentary what Herod the Great did concerning his ancestral history, “Herod the Great was always despised by the pure-blooded Jews because he was half Edomite; and we can see the importance that even Herod attached to these genealogies from the fact that he had the official registers destroyed, so that no one could prove a purer pedigree than his own.”  Herod wasn’t going to let a tarnished past destroy reality.

            But when Matthew tells us about the background of the eternal Son of God he doesn’t cover up a thing.  The begats about Jesus are embarrassing.  The lineage of Jesus had some skeletons.  Some of the relatives of Jesus were not pure nor were all of them Jewish.  Tamar from the book of Genesis is listed.  On one occasion she dresses like a prostitute and her father-in-law, Judah, father’s children though her.  Not good on your record, huh?  Rahab, the prostitute, is part of the line of Jesus.  Then they mention Ruth.  Moabite.  Not Jewish.  And then without mentioning Bathsheba directly, they do mention that David was the father of Solomon through the wife of Uriah.  (See Matthew 1:7) 

            They didn’t white-wash the tattered history of the family of Jesus.  Why?  Salvation is messy work.  It would take grit and guts and blood and death to make clean our messy lives.  Jesus says about His work, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  (Luke 5:31-32)

            One more thing.  All those begats lead to one more begat.  Ours.  Yours.  Mine.  You know that all people have to have a second birth.  You have to be born again.  You have to be born from above.  John has one more begat – “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  (John 1:12-13)

            Now, that’s a begat that we need.  Amen!!                  








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