Sunday, December 31, 2017

[Matt's Messages] “The Search for Jesus Christ”

“The Search for Jesus Christ”
The Gospel of Matthew
December 31, 2017 :: Matthew 2:1-23

We’ve only just begun our series on the Gospel of Matthew last month. I expect we’ll be in this series for at least a year, and I expect it to be a very fruitful time of learning about our Lord Jesus Christ and what He has wants for us and what he wants from us.

The Lord Jesus is the most important person Who ever lived, and this is one of His authorized theological biographies. And it’s a manual for our discipleship.

In chapter 1, Matthew presented Jesus’s pedigree. He genealogy was one form of valid identification to tell us Who Jesus really is. He is the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Messiah.

And in the last half of chapter 1, Matthew told us how Jesus’ birth came about. His origin story. And, boy, is it a wonder! Jesus was miraculously conceived and born of a virgin. And He was named Jesus and titled Immanuel because He would “save his people from their sins” and be “God with us.”

And that’s what we celebrated this last week. That’s what Christmas is all about.

Matthew chapter 2 is about what happened next.

We don’t always hear about what happens next, especially because some of it is downright evil and ugly and bloody. We tend to shy away from that stuff.

But Matthew didn’t, and neither today, will we.

Here’s what happened next: there was a great search for the newborn king.

There was a great search for Jesus Christ.

Really, in many ways, a hunt for this newborn king.

And many of those people hunting for Him did not have good motives at all.

That’s the story of Matthew chapter 2.

Now, before we begin reading this fairly familiar story, I want to give you some things to search for as we read it. Some things to notice.

Here are four themes that I want you to try to track as we go along.

First, ROYALTY. Jesus is presented in this passage as a king. A newborn king but a great king, nonetheless. Watch for how this royalty is presented. That’s because of what saw about his relationship to David in chapter 1.

Second, PROTECTION.  This king is going to be hunted – and not just in a good way.  There are evil people who want to take His life.

What’s the name of the worst of them? King...Herod. An evil old man.

But does King Herod get King Jesus? No way! You know that already. Look for how God protects the newborn king. It’s quite remarkable.

Third, FULFILLMENT. There’s that word again! One of Matthew’s very favorite words is “fulfill.” He uses it again and again in this chapter. Take note of of where God keeps His promises and fulfills, fills up, the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Fourth, SUFFERING. Just because the King is protected doesn’t mean that He and those around Him don’t suffer. There is great evil in this chapter, and it leads to great suffering. So, search for that theme, as well, as we read it.

The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, verse 1.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’”

Notice that this happened after Christmas.Verse 1 says it happened “after Jesus was born in Bethlehem.”

We don’t know exactly how long after. It could be up to 2 years later based on what else happens in this chapter.

It happens during the time that King Herod ruled over Israel. He is called Herod the Great but not because He was a good person. King Herod was not a Jew. He had been made the king by the Roman empire. And he was a very efficient and productive ruler. He built the great temple. He provided excellent famine relief.

And he was very evil. By the end of his life, he did just about anything to protect his kingship–including killing anyone that he thought threatened him–including one of his wives and at least two of his very own sons!

We know who King Herod was.

But we don’t know much about these “Magi” mentioned in verse 1.

The King James calls them “wise men.”

And they are very mysterious. They come onto the scene here in Matthew 2 and go off of the scene in Matthew 2...and they aren’t heard from ever again.

Who were those strange men?

We don’t really know. A couple of centuries earlier, there were a group of Medes who were priests called “the Magi,” and they apparently had some powers to interpret dreams and that sort of thing. We would have called them “magicians.”

And in fact, we get our English word “magic” from the word “Magi” here. I tend to think they were from Babylon and were related to the magicians mentioned in the book of Daniel

The Magi are mysterious people who are apparently also astrologers because they have seen some astrological phenomenon, “a star”, and discerned (how, we don’t know!) that a great king worthy of honor and worship[!] has been born in Israel to be King over the Jews.

We don’t know how they knew this! The Bible doesn’t say. And anything we come up with is conjecture. I tend to think that they had come upon the prophecy of Balaam from Numbers chapter 24 and saw a miraculous star that they associated with the “star that would come out of Jacob.”

The Bible never promotes astrology. But God is king over the stars!

And these mysterious men have been led by the stars from “the East” (wherever that is!) to Jerusalem to search for (v.2) “the one who has been born king of the Jews.”

Were these guys kings themselves? “We Three Kings?”

The Bible doesn’t call them kings. But they clearly got Herod’s attention! Herod is going to pay attention to these guys, so I think they must be royal personages of some kind. Maybe court astrologers. Maybe more. We just don’t know.

How many were there?

We don’t know that either! Tradition has 3 Magi, but only because they brought three gifts. There could have a whole camel train of these guys. Maybe 50, who knows?! That would have gotten Herod’s attention.

These Magi are almost a complete mystery. But what they are about is not mysterious.

They are searching for a king.

Do you see that Royalty theme here? They are searching for a king.

And that leads someone else to search for a king. Someone who isn’t happy that He has been born. V.3

“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. [Why?  Because He is king of the Jews! Or so he pretended.] When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.[He knew that the people he ruled expected a messianic ruler. From where?]  ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: [What Prophet?  Micah. Matthew paraphrases Micah 5:2-5. Which I read to us on Christmas Eve.]  'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child [There’s our word.].As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’”

We see the fulfillment theme here. Micah’s prophecy was fulfilled perfectly. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and will be the shepherd of His people.

But Herod isn’t happy about that, and he’s trying to turn the Magi into his intelligence agents to find the newborn king.

He is careful to find out the exact time the star had appeared? Why?

He wants to know how old the boy is.

And then he lies through his teeth. Herod says that he wants to worship the newborn king, as well. V.8

“As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

You can just about see him rubbing his hands together in evil delight.

Apparently, the Magi don’t yet know enough to distrust Herod and go off to do exactly what he says. V.9

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”

Wow! Apparently, the star (whatever that is! Who ever heard of a moving star?! This is a miracle, too! It moves kind of like the pillar of fire in the book of Exodus. The star) had vanished and now reappears to these mystery men and leads them right to Bethlehem, and even right to the place where the child was.

This was no ordinary star.

And they became deliriously happy. The King James says, “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

Woohoo! They had found him!  Their search was over. V.11

“On coming to the house [notice that some time has passed, Jesus’ family is now in a house], they saw the child [maybe a toddler by now] with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”

Now, here, I think, is another reason to believe that the Magi were at least tied to royalty, if not kings themselves. These are gifts of royalty to royalty.

Jesus is a great king.

And He deserves great honor and worship with treasure.

You know, that’s one of the reasons why we take an offering in our worship services.

Because we are offering our treasures as a statement of our worship of Jesus.

The royalty theme is here. And so is the protection theme. V.12

“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

There are going to be a lot of protective dreams like that.

The Magi are given new marching orders directly from God and they bypass Herod and go home a different way.

And then they fade off into obscurity...

What mystery men! They have achieved their goal, however. They found the newborn king and they worshiped Him just as He deserved.

But that’s just one search. There is another search that is still on. And it’s a nefarious one.

But God is going to protect His Son. V.13

“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”

Now, which of our four themes do you see here?

Is there is royalty? Yes. V.15 calls Jesus, God’s Son. That’s a term of royalty!

Is there protection? Yes. There is one of those protective dreams in verse 13.

Is there fulfillment? Yes!  V.15 says, “and so was fulfilled” Hosea 11:1 “Out of Egypt I called my Son.” Which turns out to be prophetic pattern. 

How about suffering? Yes, that’s there, too....

Think about Joseph and Mary fleeing in the night with young Jesus to Egypt, of all places.

Jesus and His family became refugees.

Think about that for a second. At one time in his young life, our Lord was a refugee.

I think that tells us something about God’s love for displaced people. At one time our Lord was a refugee.

Suffering. I believe that the Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh are what got Joseph’s little family through this ordeal. They funded the flight to Egypt.

And they just barely escaped!

They had to take off at night because Herod’s SWAT Team was on the way. V.16

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, [“Those Magi haven’t come back. What’s going on?”] and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’”

The Search for the Newborn King Killed All of the Boys of Bethlehem.

Can you imagine how terrible this was for Bethlehem?

The word “suffering” doesn’t really do this justice.

Every little boy in that town.

How many boys in this room 2 years old and under?

At one point all three of my boys were age 2 and under. There is only 2 and a half years between all three of them.

The King’s soldiers broke in and took their lives. There were maybe 20 or 30 of them at that time.

There is great suffering that comes with being associated with Jesus.

Jesus was protected this time, yes, but these boys were not. And Rachel wept.

Did you notice the fulfillment theme in verses 17&18?

Rachel was always associated with Bethlehem. She was buried near there back in Genesis.

And Jeremiah prophesied that great mourning would come with great suffering at the time of the exile.

And that prophetic pattern was fulfilled again when these boys lost their lives for Jesus’ sake.

Herod was horribly wicked.

And, eventually, he died and had to face the justice of God. V.19

“After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life [those searching for the newborn king] are dead.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. [But not Bethlehem, not again.]  But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod [and he knew that Archelaus was just as bad], he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth [probably his hometown]. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’”

Again, the theme of protection. Two dreams here (v.19 and v.22) to protect Jesus.

God wants this boy to grow up!

And the theme of fulfillment. “He will be called a Nazarene.”

That is, He will be despised because He came from nowheresville.

Which is a kind of suffering in itself.

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth? I doubt it.” He was rejected because of the obscurity of his hometown.  “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him...”

So...that’s what happened after Christmas.

The Search for Jesus Christ.

We’ve seen royalty ‘the one born king of the Jews” worthy of golden treasure.

We’ve seen protection. Dreams and midnight escapes to makes sure that this King lives to manhood.

And we’ve seen fulfillment. Ancient prophecies and typologies and prophetic patterns being filled up in the life of this little boy.

And we’ve seen suffering. Terrible suffering coming from terrible evil.

Now, how does this apply to us today?

As I’ve studied this chapter, I’ve been struck by three different kinds of people in this story.


The Magi, of course.

They sought Him out to worship Him.

Then came a great distance.

They spared no expense.

They believed that He was the King.

And they bowed before Him.

And while I don’t think that we’re supposed to learn anything from the stars, these stargazers got it right.

And we’re supposed to follow their example.

Do we seek to worship Jesus?

The bumper-sticker says, “Wise men still seek Him.”

And that’s right!

Wise men search after Jesus to worship Him.

They do whatever it takes.
They spare no expense.
They believe that He is the king.
And they bow before Him.


As followers of Jesus, we are called to live lives of worship and honor for our Great King.

That’s why we’re here this morning! I wondered how many people would come to church the Sunday after Christmas. If you’re here, chances are, you’re here to worship the King.

That’s why we had our offering today. It may not be gold, incense, or myrrh. But it’s our treasures, laid out as a gift before Him–to worship Him as our supreme treasure!

That’s how we’re supposed to live our lives.

Quiet devotional times.
Hard decisions.
A lifestyle of worship.

Following Jesus as King!

Because Jesus is worth it.

He’s worth searching to worship Him as our King.

How are you doing at worshiping Jesus?

Do you worship Jesus every day?
Do worship Jesus with your work?
Do worship Jesus with your time and talent and treasures?
Do worship Jesus with your relationships?
Do worship Jesus with your words?

Did you notice that these Magi were Gentiles?

I think that’s a great point. They were not Jews. They were from elsewhere, but they recognized that Jesus was not just the king of the Jews but worthy of their worship as Gentiles.

That’s going to be a theme that comes up again and again in the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew is s written first to the Jews! But one of the messages to those Jews is that  Jesus is for the Gentiles, too.

In fact, Gentiles were among the first to recognize Who He truly is!

And we’re Gentiles, right?

Who are we in this story? Who do you identify with?

I’m not an astrologer, and I’m not a magician, but I am a Gentile who wants to worship Jesus.

A second kind of person.


Herod’s soldiers, of course, but more despicably, Herod himself.

Herod hated Jesus. He pretended to want to worship Him.

That’s a scary thing. Don’t pretend to want to worship Jesus if you hate Him inside.

And Herod might have actually believed that Jesus was the rightful king!

He consulted the prophecies!

But he wanted to kill Him anyway.

He was searching for Jesus, not worship but to kill.

We’ve seen the theme of protection here.

Herod failed.

But the hate that filled Herod didn’t die with Herod. Did it?

Eventually, that hate grew and grew, and Jesus finally succumbed to its power.

Eventually, Jesus did die at the hands of the rulers of Israel.

Another Herod was there that day.

And Jesus suffered and bled and died. There were no miraculous escapes that day.

Jesus died on the Cross.

But that was not the end!

The evil of those who hunt the King does not triumph in the end!

No matter what it seems like. No matter if it seems like evil will win in this world.

The Third Reich.
Idi Amin.
Joseph Stalin.

And whatever personal hell you might be going through right now.

Jesus came back from the dead. And no Herod on Earth can stop Him!

And those that believe in Him and worship Him will live with Him forever.

His resurrection took the sting out of sin and death and He will reign forever and ever!

Some searched for Jesus to worship Him.
Some searched for Jesus to kill Him.

Those are really the only two sides there are.

But reading this story, I am struck again by other group of people that are in this passage, however briefly. They are in verse 3.

“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”

Now, maybe that’s hyperbole, but everybody in Jerusalem is buzzing with the news of these mysterious guys who have appeared from the East and are talking about a king and the chief priests and the teachers of the law name the place as Bethlehem...

And who goes to check it out?

Only the Magi.

None of the priests? None of the teachers of the law?

None of the people?

As far as we know.


They didn’t even bother.

They didn’t even bother to check it out.

And that apathy cost many of them their eternal lives.

Because there is no neutral when it comes to Jesus.

You are either on the Magi’s side or Herod’s side.

And if you think you can walk the fence, you’re on Herod’s side.

You might as well kill the babies yourself.

Are you sitting on the fence?

Are you just going through the motions, but you aren’t worshiping Jesus?

Are you just trying to mind your own business and hope that God doesn’t mess with it?

I invite you to get down off of the fence and come bow before the Lord Jesus.

He is the great king. Worthy of all worship!

And one day, He will come again and all of those who sought Him now will sing, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the People Rejoice! Great things He has done.”

Don’t be ambivalent about Jesus.

He is the fulfillment of the whole Old Testament.
He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
He is worthy of all of our worship.

And He will reign for ever and ever. Amen.


Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ


[For those interested in that sort of thing, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much of my 2009 sermon on this same text was helpful and re-usable in 2017!]

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Books I Read in 2017

This week, I've been posting about my top books and other really good books that I read in 2017.

Today, I'm posting the full list of books I completed* this year.

1. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
2. Quick Service by P.G. Wodehouse
3. Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel by Boris Akunin
4. Dr. Doctrine’s Christian Comix on the Christian Life by Fred Sanders
5. The Triune God by Fred Sanders
6. The Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James
7. Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
8. Dr. Doctrine’s Christian Comix on Biblical Images by Fred Sanders
9. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
10. Christian History Made Easy by Timothy Paul Jones
11. Something New by P.G. Wodehouse
12. The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry
13. 2 Kings: The Power and the Fury by Dale Ralph Davis
14. 1 & 2 Kings (NIBC) by Iain W. Provan
15. 1 & 2 Kings (NAC Vol. 8) by Paul R. House
16. 1 & 2 Kings (NIVAC) by August H. Konkel
17. 1 & 2 Kings (Brazos TCOTB) by Peter Leithart
18. On Being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard O. Forde
19. Dogwood by Chris Fabry
20. The Whistler by John Grisham
21. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
22. American Evangelicals and Modern Israel: A Plea for Tough Love by Frederic Martin
23. Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman
24. Gluten Freedom by Alessio Fasano
25. Twelve Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke
26. Death Comes for the Deconstructionist by Daniel Taylor
27. Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves 
28. Hot Water by P.G. Wodehouse
29. From Church to Church by Benjamin Vrbicek
30. The Boy Who Invented the Bubble Gun by Paul Gallico (2x)
31. Nine Tomorrows by Isaac Asimov
32. The Storytelling God by Jared Wilson
33. Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson
34. The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey
35. A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey
36. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers
37. Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
38. How to Be an Atheist by Mitch Stokes
39. Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch
40. Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
41. You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith
42. The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
43. To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey
44. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
45. The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey
46. Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel by Ray Ortlund
47. The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
48. A Small Book about a Big Problem by Ed Welch
49. Thick As Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner
50. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
51. Onward by Russell Moore
52. Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia by John Dunlop
53. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
54. Galatians (NAC) by Timothy George
55. Galatians (BECNT) by Douglas Moo
56. Be Free by Warren Wiersbe
57. Galatians (ZECNT) by Thomas Schreiner
58. The Message of Galatians (BST), by John Stott
59. Traveling Light by Eugene Peterson
60. The Girl on the Boat by P.G. Wodehouse
61. A World Lost by Wendell Berry
62. The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch
63. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
64. Andy Catlett Early Travels by Wendell Berry
65. Pass It On by Champ Thornton
66. A Legacy of Spies by John LeCarre  
67. The Wild Man Fable by Zeke Pipher
68. Descriptions and Prescriptions by Mike Emlet
69. Murder in the Dispensary by Jolyon Carr (early pen-name for Edith Pargeter)

* These are books I finished reading in 2017, not the ones I started or the ones I didn't get done. That list is a LOT longer! I read a bunch of them for escapist fun, a few for/with my family, and a lot of them just to learn and grow. They aren't listed (perfectly) in the order I read them. Some of them I am reading for a second or third time (or more!).

As I say each and every year--I'm not endorsing these books just because they are listed here. Some of them are really good and some are really bad. Most are somewhere in between. Read with discernment.

Here's the article where I explain why I post these.

Lists from previous years:

2008 (first half, second half)
2007 (first half, second half)
2006 (first half, second half)
2005 (first half, second half)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

More Good Books from 2017

Yesterday, I named my "top books of 2017." Today, I want to share some of the other good books that I had the privilege of reading in the last twelve months. Like yesterday's list, most of these books pushed me in significant directions, either with new perspectives or new levels.

On Being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard O. Forde

In 2017, we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. To go deeper in that vein, I re-read significant portions of Luther: Man Between God and the Devil by Heiko Oberman and Luther's own commentary on Galatians (for my sermon series). I also attended the EFCA Theology Conference which looked closer at the theology of the Reformation. One of my friends recommended that to understand Lutheran theology, I ought to read works by Gerhard Forde. I chose On Being a Theologian of the Cross because it is an explanation of and elaboration on the Heidelberg Disputation, a work of Luther's that I did not know nearly enough about. Between Forde's writing and the conference lecture from David Luy I now have a much better understanding of the antithesis that Luther was teaching.

Onward by Russell Moore

I've been wanting to read this book by Moore since it came out, but only got around to it this year. It is an excellent presentation of his theology of cultural engagement: "engaging the culture without losing the gospel." I found myself nodding in agreement and reading it out loud to Heather again and again. I'm not very good at engaging the wider culture (and feel less competent as time goes on and culture grows so wildly challenging), but Onward gives me a direction in which to point.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Speaking of culture, this book was all the rage a year ago and rightly so. It tells the story of an often forgotten segment of the American populace, one that I can relate to both in my own family of origin and among the people whom I minister now.

American Evangelicals and Modern Israel: A Plea for Tough Love by Frederic Martin

Martin, an EFCA pastor, attempts to look at the story of modern Israel with a loving but critical eye. He shows a whole other side to both the history and the theology of our engagement with the current nation of Israel than gets presented by some popular Bible teachers. Frankly, I don't know what I think of some of these things, but I'm much better informed for having read this.

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist by Daniel Taylor

Taylor's book is actually a novel, but as a work of fiction it was teaching truth. In fact, it was teaching that there is truth. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as my gushing review reveals.

Speaking of fiction that teaches, in 2017 I visited Port William, Kentucky the literary world of Wendell Berry for the first time. I read Hannah Coulter and joy-cried through the last third. As the year progressed I also read A World Lost, Andy Catlett Early Travels, and Jayber Crow. I'll be visiting Port William again and again.

Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael Emlet

Michael Emlet, one of my wise biblical counseling professors from CCEF and WTS, wrote an excellent (yet short!) book on better understanding the role of psychiatric labels and medications from a biblical counseling perspective, trying to be neither too hot nor too cold but just right. When it came out, I got to publish an interview with Mike on his book. I draw on the framework he lays out every week in pastoral ministry.

The Wild Man Fable and Wild Mountain Tribe by Zeke Pipher

This Spring, my friend Zeke Pipher published a unique little story about a "Wild Man" to teach young men about biblical masculinity. I'm a fan. He also published a small group guide which our youth boys' class is working through on Wednesday nights at our church. Here's my interview with Zeke about these new resources.

Pass It On by Champ Thornton

Another one of my friends also had a new book out this Fall. Here's what I said in my endorsement:
In Pass it On, Champ Thornton has created another unique resource for assisting Christian parents to extract the precious wisdom from the endless goldmine of the Book of Proverbs and impart its righteous riches to their children. I will be using it with my kids and urge others to dig in, too.
I also got to interview Champ about Pass It On. I highly recommend it, especially for the short chapter on how to read the Book of Proverbs. I teach from Proverbs every Wednesday with my youth boys, and this is the kind of thing I'm always telling them!

The Storytelling God by Jared C. Wilson

While I'm telling you about books that have been directly helpful in my pastoral ministry, I've got to mention The Storytelling God. This was my first Jared Wilson book, but it won't be my last. This year at LEFC's Family Bible Week, I taught on how to read, understand, and apply the parables of Jesus. I found Wilson's book to be one of the most helpful introductions to the parables--pithy, radical, orienting, and quotable. Because of reading this one, our small group has picked up The Imperfect Disciple to read over the course of this school year. Good stuff!

Christian History Made Easy by Timothy Paul Jones

Speaking of our small group, our last big study was an overview of church history something I had never taught through in my nearly two decades of pastoral ministry. Timothy Jones' Christian History Made Easy was indispensable! He distilled two millennia of names, dates, ideas, and movements into a handy little handbook--with pictures! We used the discussion guide in the back including the weekly "quizzes" to keep things fun. I highly recommend it, especially if history is not your forte.

And to round out this list, I have to mention the excellent commentaries on the Books of Kings and the Letter to the Galatians that were my constant companions all year. I am so grateful to pastor a church that allows me to buy helpful tools like that to do my job.

Tolle lege!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Top Books of 2017

The flood-tide of 2017 events has crested (I sure hope), and it's time again to share some of the good things I've had the privilege of reading this year.

It's been a great year for reading for me though I haven't gotten to write about it much. I didn't read very many books (less than 70 and a bunch of them were escapist fiction), but a goodly percentage were great books that really challenged me. In fact, if I had to name a theme for the year, it was that I read great books that strongly pushed me in directions I needed to go.

What I Mean By "Top Books"

As in past years [2013, 2014, 20152016], my "Top Books" list is not necessarily the best books that were published that particular year or the most enjoyable either. I intend it to be a list of the Christian nonfiction books I read:

- that had the most personal impact on me, my thinking, my heart.
- that I was the most consistently enthusiastic about.
- that I kept coming back to again and again.
- that I couldn't help recommending to others (and recommend without reservations and significant caveats).

Choosing which books to name as "the top" ones was really hard this year. I think that most years I've named five. This year I barely whittled it down to seven (and that by sneaking in some "honorable mentions"). Tune in tomorrow for even more great books.

My Top Books Read in 2017

1. The Triune God by Fred Sanders

Sander's newest book on the Trinity in the "New Studies in Dogmatics" series from Zondervan pushed me in a whole lot of directions not the least of which was stretching my mind to read on an higher academic level.

As for the content, this is what I said to LifeWay Pastors when they asked about it:
I want to understand, as much as I can, the deepest mysteries of Who God is, and what is more mysterious than the Tri-Personal-Unity of God? Sanders is taking me deeper than I’ve ever gone without rabbit-trailing into unhealthy and unhelpful speculation.
I have also spent several hours watching the video course companion to the book. There is still so much I don't understand about this fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith, but I feel that, with Fred's help (and other good books such as Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves), I'm making progress. I need to read it again.

2. How to Be an Atheist by Mitch Stokes

Stokes' book was also a bit beyond my intellectual abilities to fully comprehend, but I still thoroughly enjoyed  watching his mind work. In How To Be An Atheist, Mitch Stokes shines a skeptical light on skepticism. After taking on David Hume and showing the limits of skepticism, he turns to science (which has not disproven God, perhaps quite the opposite) and then morality (making the moral argument--which I have always found so compelling since I was introduced to it by C.S. Lewis--in new sophisticated ways in the current climate of militant atheist skepticism).

Stokes is well qualified to write this book with his PhD in philosophy and his MS in engineering and his clever and mischievous sense of humor. He does a wonderful job of presenting the best arguments for the other side and then interacting respectfully but sharply with them. I need to read it again soon.

Speaking of presenting the best arguments of the other side, I finally got to finish the series of apologetic books by Nabeel Qureshi by reading Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus which turned out to be my favorite of them all. Qureshi is the most sympathetic apologist I've ever been exposed to. It was strange to start reading a book while the author was living and then, sadly, to finish it after he had passed. I pray that his books stay in print for a very long time and reach many people for Christ.

3. Twelve Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke

This book was no fun to read. Reinke pushed me to reevaluate my use of technology (the smartphone being just the pinnacle of personal tech in our day) in significant ways.

Reinke is no enemy of technology. He does a wonderful job of celebrating it as a gift of God. But he is a shrewd observer of how our sinful hearts twist around any technology and take it in unhealthy directions. [See these EFCA Now reviews I got to coordinate for more.] I need to read it again soon and will be handing it to my kids as they get phones of their own.

In a very similar vein, Andy Crouch's The Tech-Wise Family was a very good short read on how to put technology in its proper place (hint: not the center).

4. A Small Book about a Big Problem by Ed Welch

My one sentence review:

This book is small like a "ghost pepper" is small.

I published a longer review this Fall when I ran a contest giving away a copy. This book pushed me to identify my anger problem when it isn't coming out as rage.

I love how Ed has gotten really good at packing pungent thoughts into short conversational meditations. My only criticism is that the title doesn't say what the book is about! I need to read it again soon.

5. Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel by Ray Ortlund

This book pushed me towards beauty.

Ortlund's book wasn't an academically challenging read nor did it challenge me to love Heather in a different way, but it did sweetly remind me of what I know about marriage--marriage has always been a beautiful picture of the gospel.

Ray uses carefully chosen words to pull together and powerfully present how marriage fits into the grand storyline of the Bible. It's imminently quotable (Tweetable!) and rich. It encouraged me to continue to love my wife as I've been learning to do for the last 24 years and to love her for the glory of Jesus. I need to read it again.

6. The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse

I expected to be challenged by Sasse's book (and I was), but I was surprised by how encouraged I was by reading it.

The challenge is that Senator Sasse is an uber-talented intellectual who sets a rigorously high bar for raising up the next generation of American citizens. I can't relate to his achievements (aside from getting jealous) and could feel like many of his illustrative examples are unattainable. I also expected to be depressed by some of the trends he was observing (vanishing adulthood is not a positive thing!)

But I was actually encouraged. My biggest encouragement was that I recognized the broad outlines of his philosophy of parenting as being the same as Heather and mine. "Yes! That's what we're trying to do with our kids!" was the thought that regularly reoccurred as I read it. I enjoyed reading his engaging (often humorous) prose. I dog-eared a bunch of pages, especially the ones with list-like practical suggestions and began loaning it out to other parents.

7. Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia by John Dunlop

Dunlop's book pushed me to love people more skillfully and to face my impending mortality. 

Interestingly, Dr. Dunlop used to be our physician when I was a young seminarian. I'm glad he's focused on geriatrics now because he's shown a deep understanding of what it feels like to grow weak with age and infirmity.

The greatest strength of this book was describing what dementia is like from the perspective of both the person suffering from it and a person caring for someone who has it. Everyone who reads it (and I've read multiple reviews of it as the book review coordinator for EFCA Now) says the same thing.

So many people are affected by this that a book like this needed written. Our copy is getting passed all the way around our little church. I'm glad that this one is so rich with theological insight and practical counsel.

It was hard to read because just as there is a good chance Dr. Dunlop will eventually suffer from dementia himself (and his letter to his family at the end is a beautiful meditation on such), there is a good chance that either Heather or I or both of us will suffer similarly as we get old. As a preview of coming attractions, it was a difficult but salutary harbinger to consider. I need to read it again.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

[Matt's Messages] “He Will Reign For Ever and Ever”

“He Will Reign For Ever and Ever”
Isaiah 9:6-7 and Revelation 19:6, 16, 11:15 
December 24, 2017

Did that last song sound kinda familiar to you? It’s a brand new song by Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher, but it’s also homage to a couple of very familiar Christmas tunes. One was “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Christina Rosetti.

And what was the other one? Handel’s “Messiah” right?

“Unto Us a Child Is Born.”

George Frederic Handel was a master at taking texts from holy Scripture and putting them together with beautiful music to form a stunning powerful combination.

And one of those texts was Isaiah 9, verses 6 and 7.

It predicts the birth of Jesus Christ the whole point of Christmas.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (NIV84)
I don’t know about you, but whenever I read these words, I hear Handel’s Messiah in my head. “Wonderful! Counselor! The Mighty God! The Everlasting Father! The Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 is a prophecy of the Messiah of Israel–the promised ruler who would make all things right once more.

Verses 1 through 5 of Isaiah 9 talk of people walking in darkness who have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

We’re at the darkest time of the year right now. Each day is short, each night is long.

These people were walking, living in darkness. But now a light has dawned.

And that light is the joyful reversal of the curse on the world and the end of all war!

And that light comes in the form of a child.


This is what Christmas is all about.

Isaiah wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about 800 years before the first Christmas.  Before the birth of Jesus Christ.

He didn’t know Jesus’ name.  But He could see the day when Jesus would come.

Now, I’d love to spend time on each of these awesome titles for Jesus and what amazing realities they point to: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ... But we’ll do that another time.

What I want to focus on this morning are all of these words here that talk about his eternal kingdom.

Did you hear them as I read it? I tried to emphasize them. V.6

“...the government will be on his shoulders.”

He would shoulder the government. That’s a big responsibility, calling for very big shoulders.

As a Dad, I understand what it means to have the weight of a family rest on your shoulders.

Well, the weight of the world would rest on the shoulders of this child!

But for how long? V.7

“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.”

“He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”

As the choir just sang, “He Shall Reign Forevermore, Forevermore!”

“He Will Reign For Ever and Ever.”

That’s in the Hallelujah Chorus, isn’t it?

The glorious conclusion of part two of Handel’s Messiah. It’s number 37 in your hymnal if you want to look at it. Amazing music.

Most of us have it running in our heads the whole Advent Season.

And I’m sure that our choir’s last song was supposed to ring it again in our ears.

“And He shall reign for ever and ever.”

Where did Handel get that?

It’s in the Bible.

Handel picked three texts from the book of Revelation and put them together.

Revelation chapter 19, verse 6. Chapter 19, verse 16. And chapter 11, verse 15.

From the King James.

Revelation 19:6, John says, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

Revelation 19:16, “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

And Revelation 11:15, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”

Christmas is about the coming of the greatest King and the greatest Kingdom ever.

And it will be an ETERNAL KINGDOM.

Eternal. For Ever and Ever. Without end.

Just think about that this morning. Make that your big Christmas Eve thought for the day. Dwell on this idea that Jesus’ kingdom will be eternal.

Just pick that sentence apart and take it one step at a time.

#1. HE.

He will reign. This child to be born. This son to be given.

Notice (in verse 6) that He is a gift.

The people whom He will reign over do not deserve this King.

They deserve the darkness, not the light.

They deserve the wicked rulers that they have had, not the perfect One to come.

He comes as a gift. And He shoulders the government as a gift.

As much as we desperately need it, we don’t deserve the kind of government that is being promised to us here.

It’s grace.

We don’t tend to think about government being grace to us, but we’re not used to perfect government.

Whenever we think about government, we are painfully aware of its imperfections.

We’re painfully aware of our own imperfections. We are imperfect sinners living under someone else’s government.

And our governments, even our best governments, are made up of imperfect sinners, as well.

But He will reign.

The baby born in Bethlehem will reign.

And He will reign perfectly because He Himself is perfect.

He is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Not just anybody. But Jesus.

Aren’t you glad that the eternal kingdom to come will be reigned by this Person?

I would hate the idea of an eternal kingdom ruled by anybody less!



And this, of course, is talking about His second coming, more than His first.

He was the King when He came the first time, but His reign had only just begun and is not yet fully realized.

But when He comes again and sets up His eternal kingdom, then He will reign like nothing ever seen before!

Look at the words that Isaiah uses in verse 7 to describe that kingdom.

It’s peaceful. Peace with no end.

And it’s perfect. It’s upheld with “justice and righteousness.”

You know, we can’t really imagine this.

Imagine a perfect place to live with a perfect government.

We can try. But we have never really seen anything like it.

We get foretastes. When something goes right. When government does something well. When you have good parents, good church leaders, good policing, good laws put into effect–you get a foretaste of what it might be like to live under perfection.

But it’s always far from it.

But imagine a world ruled by a Person with absolute power that is ruling absolutely and is absolutely perfect and good!

That’s what this is talking about.

That’s what Christians believe was happening when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.

The King had come. The King of Kings had come.

And He will reign...


“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.”

That Person, that Perfection. And Forever!

That’s the point of Christmas.

For Ever and Ever.

I can’t wrap my mind around that.

“Eternal” sounds good, but it’s just so hard to comprehend.

But think about the opposite. What if the kingdom wasn’t forever?

If all of that goodness came and then just fizzled and ran out of steam?

What if Jesus came and set up an glorious kingdom but it did not last?

“All good things must come to an end.”

No! That’s not the gospel.

The gospel says, “And they lived happily ever after” because of Jesus.

He will reign for ever and ever!

Isn’t that the good news?!

You know, it’s only good news if you are happy about it.

It’s only good news if this Child born, this Son that is given is your own Savior and King.

He will reign for ever and ever no matter what.

But those who get to enjoy that reign forever are those who have received Him as King now.

Those who have taken Jesus and His gift of salvation by faith.

Those who have come out of the darkness and put their faith in the Light who has dawned.

Is that you?

I hope so. I hope that’s everyone in this room.

And if it isn’t yet, I pray that it will be soon.

I call on everyone here to receive this Son who was given for them.

So that all of us can rejoice together in Him and under His reign forever and ever.

For ever and ever.

For ever and ever.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "The Birth of Jesus Christ"

“The Birth of Jesus Christ”
The Gospel of Matthew
December 17, 2017 :: Matthew 1:18-25 

Last week, we began our newest sermon series very cleverly and craftily entitled, “The Gospel of Matthew.” I’m still working an snazzy title for the whole series.

We’ve begun a multi-month, maybe multi-year, journey together through this theological biography of the most important person who has ever lived–the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last week, we looked closely at his genealogy. Which was a lot more interesting than someone might think at first.

It turned out that his genealogy revealed his identity. It was like a form of ID that the first readers of this gospel would have considered valid and interesting.

Matthew gave us an account of Jesus’ genealogy that presented Jesus as the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Christ.

The Son of Abraham - Realizing All of God’s Promises
The Son of David - Ruling All of God’s Kingdom
The Christ - Rescuing All of God’s People

And Matthew arranged his presentation of the genealogy into three sets of fourteen generations. Three eras: from Abraham to David, from David to the Exile, and from the Exile to Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus.

Fourteen. The perfect number seven multiplied by two.

And three perfect sets of a doubled perfect number.

I think that Matthew was saying that the time has now come for the Messiah to arrive.

The time is perfect. More than perfect. Doubly perfect. Triply doubly perfect!

This is where the whole line of generations has been heading all along.

What Paul called in Galatians 4, “The fullness of time...” (Galatians 4:4-5).

This is what they’ve all been waiting for.

This Person is Whom they’ve all been waiting for.

And now it’s time to read about His conception and His birth.

V.18 begins, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about...”

“The Birth of Jesus Christ.”

Now, the funny thing is that there is very little about Jesus’ actual birth in the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel of Luke is the place to go if you want to know most of the details of that story. The who, what, where, when, and how.

Matthew only barely mentions his actual birth.

What Matthew does give us is mostly the backstory of Jesus’ birth from the perspective of Joseph. Luke focuses more on Mary. Matthew focuses more on Joseph.

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about...”

That word “birth” in the Greek is “geneseos.” What does that sound like?

Genesis, right?

Which means, “origins, beginnings, births.”

Matthew is signaling that he is going to give us the origin story of Jesus Christ.

He is going to tell us how it all came down. The circumstances that surrounded Jesus’ birth.

And in particular, he’s going to tell us about the scandal and how it was resolved.

There was a scandal brewing, no doubt about it.

Verse 16 made it very clear that this genealogy was the genealogy of Joseph who was the husband of Mary, of whom (feminine pronoun, Mary) was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

So Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus.

Look at verse 18.

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.”

Now, take out Matthew’s words, “through the Holy Spirit,” and you can see how you’ve got a scandal brewing.

Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph.

The old King James word was “espoused.”

And it meant much more to them than our word “engaged.”

They had already signed all of the papers.

They had already been to the courthouse.

They and their families had agreed before witnesses that these two were going to come together in marriage.

Their betrothal period was legally binding and could only be broken by a divorce.

But they had yet “come together.” There were still some significant steps before they were finally and fully married. And that included sexual intimacy and consummation.

They hadn’t got that far.

But Mary was obviously pregnant already.

What happened?

Well, if it was anybody else, we would all know what happened.

Mary must have been with somebody.

I mean, that’s just how it works.

And Joseph knew that it hadn’t been him.

Of course, Mary knew that she hadn’t been with anybody.

Matthew says that she was “found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.”

It’s a miracle.

Don’t miss that.

Don’t miss the miracle.

Our Advent Readings this year are all about the Holy Spirit, the True Spirit of Christmas.

We’re learning about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the story of the birth of Christ.

Don’t miss this one! The Holy Spirit miraculously conceived the humanity of Jesus inside of the womb of Mary who was a virgin.


Now, certainly that created a scandal.

But which would you rather have? A non-scandalous birth of a regular old baby who can’t save the world or a scandalous birth of a divinely miraculous baby who does?

We know which one God picked.

He picked the scandalous miracle.

But what would Joseph pick? V.19

“Because Joseph her husband [legally if not fully yet] was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

Now we sometimes have a hard time understanding what that means.

It says that Joseph was righteous. And at least in part, that must have meant that he felt duty-bound to divorce this seemingly adulterous woman. That’s what a righteous man would do.

He might think that fully marrying her would say to the world that he was guilty of fornication when he was not.

Now, our world laughs at that.

Our culture seems to think that it’s okay for men and women to have sex together outside of the covenant of marriage. Even to live together like they are husband and wife but not be.

But the Bible calls that kind of behavior “sin.”

And Joseph was a righteous man. He wasn’t going to engage in that sinful behavior, and he wasn’t going to implicitly say to the world that he had.

But the logic of verse 19 says more than that. It says that because Joseph was righteous, he not only wanted to do the right thing, but he wanted to show compassion towards Mary.

“Because” he was righteous he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace.”

He didn’t want a trial.
He didn’t want her to be ostracized and attacked. Maybe stoned to death.

He could have demanded a public divorce and probably got to keep her dowry and the bride price that he had probably put down.

She had reneged on their agreement, not him.

But because he was righteous, he was merciful.

I think that say a lot about what it means to be righteous.

Joseph decided to divorce her quietly. Life was going to be hard enough for her to have no husband to have some illegitimate son.

You know, they probably didn’t know each other very well? Betrothed couples in that day didn’t have any time alone until they were married.

They would have met, but never had much conversation–and always with others listening.

How must he have felt?! So disappointed. So let down.

And yet, he decides to not only do the right thing but to do it as gently as possible.

But then God intervenes! v.20

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

And that changes everything!

I have no idea what that might be like. To be visited by an angel. Perhaps “the angel of the Lord.” He’s not named here.

All we get is his amazing message.

Notice what he calls Joseph!

“Joseph, son of David.”

This humble carpenter is a Son of David.

That’s what we read about last week in the genealogy. This guy is the heir to the throne.

In an alternate timeline, we could call him, “King Joseph.”

“King Joseph, heir of David, do not be afraid.”

“Don’t worry what they say about you.

Don’t worry about the scandal. I’ll take care of that. It’s worth it.

Mary has not been unfaithful to you. Marry Mary!

“ not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

That child is very special.

And then the angel say just how special He is. V.21

“She will give birth to a son, and you [Joseph] are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

#1. JESUS.

Now if you have the New International Version, it has a footnote for the name “Jesus” in verse 21. We are used to the name “Jesus,” but we don’t always recognize what it meant in the original language.

The NIV footnote says, “Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves.” “Yahweh saves.” That’s why the angel says, “give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

The angel is saying that his name has prophetic mean.

“Jesus” means God saves His people.

This little boy whom the angel is telling Joseph to adopt is going to be a savior. A deliverer. A rescuer.

A savior from what?

From the oppression of the Romans?

What does it say (v.21)?

“He will save His people from their sins.”

Not their enemies.

Or at least, not what they think of as their greatest enemies.

What do you think of as your greatest enemies?

Did your know that your greatest enemy is not your problems?

Your greatest enemy is not your fears.

Your greatest enemy is not your earthly enemies like Korean dictators or ISIS terrorists.

Did you know that your greatest enemy is not even Satan, the enemy of God?

No. Your and my greatest threat to our eternal joy is our sins.

Our sins separate us from God and makes us His enemies. It earns us His righteous wrath.

And there is nothing you and I can do about it on our own.

We are, by nature, dead in our transgressions and sins.

And dead people can’t earn their way back.

We can’t rescue ourselves. We can’t bring ourselves back to life.

But God in His mercy has sent a Savior for us!

And His name is “Jesus.” “God saves His people.”

Here’s how He did it. Jesus lived a perfect life. He never sinned. He lived in perfect obedient communion with His heavenly Father.

And then one day, He took on our sin for us. And He died in our place on the Cross.

The Bible says, “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

And then three days later, He came back from the dead to give us forgiveness of sins and new life!

We’re going to read about that at the end of this book.

But here it is at the beginning!

“Jesus” Means God Saves His People.

Question. Are you one of His people?

That’s a question that we all have to make sure we have answered.

The Gospel of John says, “ 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.”

Are you born of God?

Are you one of God’s people?

You get there through faith.

And faith in alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ?

Because He came to save His people from their sins.

But it’s not automatic. You need to trust Him. You need to receive Him and believe in His name.

You cannot earn this salvation, but you must receive it by faith.

Jesus means God’s saves his people.

Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus came to save?

He could have just come to observe.

Or worse. He could have just come to judge.

But He came to save. To seek and to save what was lost.

And then Matthew takes over, I think, in verse 22 to show how this was a fulfillment of the Old Testament. V.22

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’–which means, ‘God with us.’”


That’s what choir just sang this morning.

“Our God is with us!”

Matthew says that all of this (not just the angel’s greetings but the whole thing, including the potential scandal) took place to fulfill Isaiah 7:14.

Now, that’s one of Matthew’s favorite words, “fulfill.” We’re going to see it again and again in this gospel.

Matthew loves to look at his Old Testament and see what it promised and prefigured and predicted and then look at Jesus and show how He fulfills it perfectly.

Three years ago, we studied this prophecy in Isaiah 7 and 8 in some depth. We took two weeks to unpack what it says and how it relates to Matthew chapter 1.

Basically, it’s a prophetic pattern. God promised King Ahaz a sign even though Ahaz didn’t want one. The sign would be that a young maiden would have a child and before that child could even say, “Mama,” the threats that King Ahaz was so worried about would be neutralized. He would see that God is with Israel.

But it was also more than that!

When the LORD said in Isaiah that a “virgin will be with child,” he actually meant that eventually a VIRGIN would be “with child!”

The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 could be just a young maiden of marriageable age, but it could also mean someone who has never ever had sexual relations.

And the Greek word used in both the Septuagint (the Greek translation of Isaiah 7:14) and in Matthew’s Gospel right here in this verse (23) is almost always used to mean a young woman who has never ever had sexual relations.

And Mary has never ever had sexual relations.

“What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

So Matthew sees clearly that ALL this took place to fully fulfil Isaiah 7:14.

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel–which means ‘God with us.’”

The Greater Immanuel, the Greatest Immanuel is Mary’s son!

Immanuel was a pattern. The first Immanuel was a sign that God was with His people, Israel.

But the Greater Immanuel, the Greatest Immanuel has come not only to be a sign but to be the literal fulfillment of His name.

God is with us.

This is no ordinary child!

He is literally God in the flesh.

Jesus Christ was not just an earthly savior who came to deliver people from their sins.

Jesus Christ was (and is!) God Himself come to Earth an entering into humanity!

Veiled in Flesh, the Godhead See
Hail, the Incarnate Deity
Pleased as Man With Men to Dwell
Jesus, Our Immanuel

Immanuel wasn’t his name like “Jesus” was.

Immanuel is a title, to describe the essence of Who Jesus was and is.

He is God With His People.

Think about what Immanuel means:

It means that God has walked on Earth as a man.

It means that God understands everything that we humans go through–experientially!

It means that because He was God Jesus could infinitely pay for our sin debt against an infinite holy God. In other words, because He was Immanuel He could be Jesus–our Savior.

It means that God could reveal Himself fully in language we understand–the language of humanity, of personal experience, of human love and sacrifice.

It means that ours is a “visited planet.” We are not alone. There is a Creator who made us and cares about us. Life is not meaningless.

It means that humanity is not just an insignificant class of primates wandering around aimlessly on this planet. Instead we are a significant class of beings, created in the image of God, and blessed by our Creator's humility to take on our nature.  We among the creatures of the universe have a dignity that is unheard of, because God became one of us. Because God was with us!

God “became flesh and dwelled among us.”

Let’s get personal now.

Do you feel alone this Christmas Season?

Christmas is often a hard time for people. Winter has come. It gets darker earlier.  Financial burdens pile up. People get lonely. We miss loved-ones who have died.

I find this a very stressful time of year.

Do you feel alone this Christmas Season?

You are not alone if you know Immanuel.

The most important person in the universe is with you. And for you.

You are not alone.

Three years ago on Christmas Eve, I gave this summary of what it means for God to be with us.

Not Alone
Not Afraid
Not Abandoned
Not Ashamed

God is with you.


Do you need to hear that?

I know I do.

Because often I live like I am alone.

I live in fear.
I live in anxiety.
I live in anger.
I live in attack mode.
I live in lying mode.
I live in revenge mode.
I live in impurity.
I live in foolishness.

That’s living as if God was not with me.

But we don’t have to live like that!


God is with us!

God is here.

God has saved us through His Son.

We can live differently!

We can live in joy.
We can live in peace.
We can live in increasing harmony with others.
We can live in hope.
We can live in edifying speech.
We can live in wise choices.

Because God is with us.

And if God is with us, who can be against us?

It’s interesting that the very last thing that Jesus will be quoted saying in the Gospel of Matthew is what?

“...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


Verse 24.

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. [He embraced the scandal because He knew about the holy miracle!] But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

You know, Joseph never says anything.

He is never quoted in the Bible as saying anything.

He might have been one of those strong silent types. We don’t know.

But he was a man of action.

He was a righteous man. He was an obedient man.

Joseph had that wedding. And after He was born, he adopted that boy. And acknowledged Him as his son.

That boy became his legal heir and heir of all of God’s promises from Abraham on.

Heir of the royal lineage from David.

And Joseph named that boy “Jesus.”

And that boy grew into His name. He saved His people from their sins.

And He grew into His title. He was truly God with us. Immanuel.


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. The Genealogy of Jesus

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "The Genealogy of Jesus"

“The Genealogy of Jesus”
The Gospel of Matthew
December 10, 2017 :: Matthew 1:1-17 

This is the first message in our new series which will be on the Gospel of Matthew.

I wanted to have a fancy schmancy title for the series like we did for Gospel Roots or the Truth of the Gospel in Galatians, but I haven’t thought of one for Matthew yet. I’ll keep working on it, but for now we’ll just call it “The Gospel of Matthew” which is exactly what it is.

Let me tell you why we’re going to study Matthew next.

It’s my brother’s fault.

At Thanksgiving while we were eating a delicious turkey dinner, I was telling my brother Andy that we were really close here to finishing our series in Galatians and the Gospel Roots series, and he asked me what was next.

And I told him I didn’t know.

I started to list the books that I have preached through in the last 19 and a half years. For example, I have preached through the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John.

And I told him that I expected to preach a few messages about Advent and Christmas and then start something new in the new year.

I told Andy about having finished The Books of Kings at the beginning of last year and that I didn’t think it was quite time to go back to the Big Story of the Old Testament yet.

I said, “I just don’t know what the Lord would have me do next.”

And he turned to me and said, “Well, it seems like December would be a perfect time to start the Gospel of Matthew with the birth of Jesus and everything. And you haven’t done that one yet.”

And I’m like “....yeah, yeah, that would be a perfect time to start Matthew...”

And a few weeks later, here we are.

So if you enjoy the Gospel of Matthew, you can thank my brother Andy. If you don’t, you can blame him! I’m sure I will blame him at times as I’m writing messages! What are brothers for, anyway?!

The Gospel of Matthew is a wonderful book full of spiritual treasure. We are going to learn all kinds of glorious things as we study it together.

Matthew is a theological biography of the Lord Jesus Christ written, I think, by one of His very own disciples, Matthew/Levi. A man whose life was radically transformed by knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’s life, His example, His teaching, His amazing sacrifice on the Cross, and His Resurrection–Matthew gives us a marvelous, inspired perspective on all of these things.

It’s the most Jewish of the four gospels. It may have been written specifically to reach the Jews with the gospel. Matthew quotes the Old Testament again and again and again, and one of his favorite words is the word “fulfill.” There are like 60 Old Testament references in this book, and Matthew shows how Jesus fulfills them all.

This book has it all. Remember those parables we learned about at Family Bible Week? There’s tons of them in here. There’s also prophecy. If you enjoyed last week’s message on the Return of Christ, wait till we get to Matthew 24 and 25! And there are miracles, and there’s the Sermon on the Mount, and there’s the Great Commission, our marching orders to make disciples. And there is Jesus’ promise to build His church.

We’re going to learn so much about Jesus and how to follow Him in these sacred pages.

I’m really excited to get started.

And the book even starts out really exciting.

It begins with a 17 verse genealogy! 

Eh. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to get all that excited about genealogies.

They’re kind of “meh” for me.

My Mom loves them! I asked her a simple genealogical question yesterday about our family tree, and I got a long impassioned answer back with three attachments!

I don’t know how you feel about genealogy, but the Jews of Matthew’s day would feel more like my Mom does than like I do when they encountered the opening words of Matthew chapter 1.

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham...”

That would have caused them all to sit up and pay attention.

“Did you say genealogy?”

“About whom?”

“Jesus? Who is that?”

“Jesus Christ [or Messiah] the son of David, the son of Abraham?”

Those are big words!

Those are big claims.

We’re used to those words, but imagine being a first century Jew and hearing them for the first time.

“Who do you think this person is? Who is this book about?

By dropping those names, you’re saying that this Jesus person is ‘the goal and climax of Israel’s history’” (Craig Keener’s phrase).

You’re saying the Messiah has arrived, and He’s on the scene.

This week, my son Andrew turned 16, and we went down to the DMV for him to take his knowledge test to get his learner’s permit to start driving.

And the guy behind the counter would not take my word for it that Drew was Andrew Charles Mitchell, aged 16.

He wanted documentation. He wanted proof. He wanted his credentials to be presented. He wanted I.D.

This genealogy is one form of ID for Jesus.

It’s a presentation of his legal and royal and spiritual credentials.

A presentation that would have gotten the attention of a first century Jew.

It’s not arranged like we do genealogies today. It’s not focused on dates or chronology or shoehorning in all of the irrelevant data that he could find.

No, instead, Matthew carefully arranges his material and deliberately presents it in a highly stylized way to make his theological argument. It’s good history, but it’s history done a different way than we are used to.

It’s fascinating, when you study it, to see what Matthew includes and what he leaves out.

I mean, the genealogy in Matthew 1 is significantly different in places than the genealogy in Luke chapter 3. And they are both the true genealogies of the same man!

I used to think that it was because Luke was Mary’s genealogy, and Matthew is Joseph’s. That’s possible, but I think unlikely.

I think they’re both Joseph’s genealogy, but Luke’s goes through the biological DNA line and Matthew goes through the line of royal succession and then they meet at the end. (And there are probably some Levirite marriages in there, too.) They are both really good history, but they are tracking it in a different way than we are used to doing.

To get what Matthew is saying, we’ve got to learn to think like a first century Jew.

We’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who has been waiting a very very very long time for God’s promises to be fulfilled, God’s perfect king to come, and God’s salvation to be accomplished.

And for four hundred years, there has been no Scripture. No prophetic voice breaking the silence.

And now Matthew comes on the scene and writes, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham...”

Notice in verse 1, that Matthew makes 3 big claims about Jesus.

He says that Jesus is:

- The Christ
- The Son of David
- The Son of Abraham.

And then he sets out to prove that, and really does in the opposite order.

Son of Abraham, Son of David, The Christ.

What I want to do is step down through these 3 kind of paragraphs or sets of genealogies and for each one, make one major point of application for our lives today.

In verse 17, Matthew is going to say that he’s given us 3 sets of 14 generations.

And that’s, maybe, so that we can memorize them. Like a mnemonic device. Or maybe he’s actually emphasizing something else by doing it that way which I’ll try to show you in a little bit.

But let’s take the first one (verses 2-6) that starts with Father Abraham.

And that’s interesting that Matthew starts there. Luke actually starts with Jesus and then works all the way back to Adam and God!

Matthew flows the other direction, and he starts with Abraham.

Remember Abraham? We’ve talked about him a lot this year in connection with the book of Galatians.

He shows up for the first time in the book of Genesis.

Abraham is called by God to leave Ur and to go to what we now call “The Promised Land.”

Why is it called that? Because God promised it to him!

Do you remember the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.

If you know your Old Testament, the book of Matthew will make a lot more sense than if you’ve never read your Old Testament.

What did God promise Abraham?

Offspring, Land, and Blessing.

And the whole big story of the Old Testament is the long and winding path to see those promises fulfilled.

Isn’t it? Genesis. At the end of Genesis how many people in Abraham’s family? 70. How much land do they own? Just a burial plot. They are actually living in Egypt.

How much blessing. A little bit. A lot more to come.

God promised that all of the nations on Earth would be blessed through Abraham and his seed.

What did Galatians teach us about that?

Galatians 3:16, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is...[whom?] Christ.”

Because Jesus is THE Son of Abraham:


He’s the One.

He’s the One through whom all of God’s promises will be realized.

That’s what Matthew is claiming.

Matthew is saying, “We’ve found the One that fulfills Genesis 12, and Genesis 15, and Genesis 18, and Genesis 22.”

We’ve been waiting a long time, but the Son of Abraham has arrived.

There are lots of sons of Abraham. But that’s not what Matthew is saying. He’s not saying that Jesus is a Jew. He is saying that Jesus is THE JEW.

And that all blessing is found in Him.

He starts to give the line. V.2

“Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,”

Those names should be very familiar to you. If they aren’t, go read Genesis again.

The promise is given, and it’s passed down. First to Isaac and then (not to Esau) but to Jacob, and then to all of Jacob’s sons.

How many sons did he have?  12. The twelve tribes of Israel.

But Matthew singles out one of them. Judah. Why Judah, why not Joseph?

Because it’s through the tribe of Judah that the ruler will come (see Genesis 49:10). The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Do you remember a few years ago when we tracked that lion together?

It’s Jesus.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, then? V.3

“Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar...”

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

Hold up there. That’s very unusual. Back in that time, it was very unusual to include the names of women in a genealogy. You might include a queen or two. We saw that back in the Books of Kings.

But this lady dressed up as a prostitute to trick her wicked step-father into siring these twins to carry on her line and to carry on the promise.

You don’t see that very often in a genealogy.

And in the holy Scriptures, no less!

That’s different. Why do you think that Matthew includes this lady who (while not acting righteously was acting more righteously, according to Judah, than he was!)?

And she was a Canaanite!

Why did she make it into Jesus’s genealogy?

You know what? There are 5 women in here. Not just Tamar. And they are conspicuous.

Four of them are foreigners. At least 3 of them were sexually promiscuous and their children weren’t necessarily what we call quite “legitimate.”

In many ways, they were used. They were treated shamefully with very little representation and advocacy and basic dignity.

They probably would have used the hashtag “Me, too” were they on social media today.

These women are in the bloodline of the Messiah. And Matthew wants to show us that. Why do you think?

Keep following the line. V.3

Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, [We’ve gotten into the times of Exodus and Numbers now] Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab...”

Are those names familiar to you?

We’ve reached the books of Joshua and Judges.

By the way, Matthew is skipping lots of names. He isn’t trying to give you every single link between Abraham and Joseph.

There are hundreds of years going on here.

And that’s normal. The word for “father” or “begat” in the old King James English can also mean “grandfather” or “great-grandfather” or “ancestor.” It shows line-of-descent, not necessarily just one step in that line.

We don’t have a good word for it in English. “Was the father of” is the best we can do right now.

Same thing with “whose mother was” in verse 5.

Rahab the prostitute. Do you remember her from the book of Joshua?

She hid the spies. She believed in the God of Israel. She let the spies get away and they came back for her. And she became a part of Israel.

In fact, she married into Israel. Her descendent was an upright man named “Boaz.”

Remember Boaz from the book of...what?  Ruth. V.5

“Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.”

Now, before we get into David, let’s remember what Matthew is proving. All along, Matthew is showing that Jesus is the Son of Abraham par excellence.

And because He’s the Son of Abraham, He will be God’s instrument to realize all of God’s promises for Israel and for the nations!

In other words, Jesus is where the blessing is.

God is faithful. God always keeps His promises.

And He’s made some big ones. And sometimes it seems like they’re never going to come. You might be feeling that right now...

But those promises are all YES and AMEN in Jesus.

He will fulfill them all.

So this is a call to be patient and to, like Abraham, trust God and wait on His promises to be realized.

And believe that they have arrived in the coming of Jesus.

Don’t go anywhere else. Jesus is where the blessing is.

Now, this next set of genealogies is very important to Matthew.

This is where his telling of the story diverges from Luke’s and (to some degree) from 1 Chronicles, as well.

And I think it’s because Matthew wants to emphasize the royalty of Jesus.

He is the Son of David, par excellence.

In verse 6, David is called “King David.”

He’s the only one in Matthew’s genealogy to have his title listed. There are many other kings, but he’s the only one called “King” in this list.

And I think that’s important because in verse 1, Matthew made a big deal about Jesus being the Son of David.

In other words, He’s the King...of Kings!

Right? He’s the fulfillment, not just of Genesis 12, 15, 18, and 22.

He’s also the fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7.

Remember when we studied 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel a few years ago?

Sometimes we call it the Davidic Covenant?

That King David would have a descendent that would be the King that would reign over Israel perfectly? And have an eternal kingdom?

“Great David’s Greater Son”

Do you remember these? Thumbs-up or Thumbs-down from the Books of Kings?

They just had one job, lead the nation in covenant faithfulness.

How many were two thumbs up? Not very many?

How about David. Sometimes. But look at verse 6 again.

“David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife...”

Matthew had to put that in there!

Bathsheba. Mrs. Uriah. David was a murderer and an adulterer.

That was the lowest point in his behavior, and it led to the lowest points in his life.

How about Solomon?

He was pretty good for a while there. Building and dedicating the temple. Writing those Songs and Proverbs, exercising that phenomenal wisdom.

But then he just about lost it. Marrying all of those wives. Bowing down to other gods.

I like to think he came back and that Ecclesiastes tells us the story.

But he wasn’t two thumbs up. V.7

“Solomon the father of Rehoboam [thumbs down, the kingdom splits], Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.”

Those names should be familiar to you. We just went over all of them (and the rest that Matthew skips over) in 2016.

Like a broken a record.

So many thumbs down.

A few bright lights. A little thumb up every once in a while. Asa, Uzziah, Hezekiah, Josiah.

But so many thumbs down. And down. And down until the exile was inevitable.

But they were the kings! And where there is a kingly line, there is hope.

Do you remember last year’s advent readings and sermons?

They were based on Isaiah 11. The Trudes read it to us last week again.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

Jesus is the Son of King David.

And because of that:


The exile will come to an end.

The book of Lamentations will be reversed.

His kingdom will come and it will last forever.

Isaiah 9!  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”

That’s what Matthew is saying with this genealogy!

He’s saying that the time of thumbs-down kings is over.

Because their perfect descendant has come.

When the kings are at their best, they remind us of Jesus.

And when the kings are at their worst, they remind us of why we need Jesus.

And Matthew says, “Here’s Jesus!”

The King has come!

And His rule and reign will be perfect.

He’ll reign in righteousness.

I long for that. Don’t you?

My personal application of that beyond longing for the return of the King is to submit myself again to His Lordship.

Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth. He says that at the end of Matthew.

And that means that I should act like it. I should obey everything that He has commanded of me.

Because His reign and rule are perfect. I can’t go wrong by following Him. It’s always the right thing to do.

Repentance and redirection in submission is always appropriate before the King of Kings.

Skip down to verse 17. I want to show you one other thing about Jesus being the Son of David. Verse 17 says, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.”

Now, I always thought that meant that he was saying that’s all the generations there were. But he’s actually saying that’s all of the generations I’ve listing for you in each of those 3 eras.

He’s saying, did you catch how I did that? I selected 14 generations. That’s 7 times 2. A doubled perfect, and there is three of them. So much perfection. Perfection is on the way.

And those three eras? From the Abrahmic Promises to the Davidic Promises, to when it all fell apart, to when Jesus came to put it all back together.

He’s saying, “Now it’s show time!”

And there might be another hidden message there. I don’t believe in very many hidden messages in the Bible. I think God put them all right there in plain sight.

But I also think that the first readers would catch subtle stuff, too.

Like the fact that in Hebrew, letters have a numerical value, and the number 14 is the numerical value of the name....want to guess?  DAVID.

And which is the fourteenth name in Matthew’s genealogy?  King David.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Jesus is the Son of David. And because of that, He will rule all of God’s kingdom forever.

One last set. Verses 12 through 16.

See if you know any of these names.

“After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

Most of those names don’t appear anywhere else in Scripture.

Some of you know Shealtiel and Zerubbabel.

Zerubbabel rebuilt the rubb-ible when they came back from the exile.

Most of the men from verse 12 through 15 are unknown to us.

There was no Scripture being written during their lifetimes.

God was silent. The Old Testament was over, and the New had not yet come.

But God was still at work.

Quietly. Very very quietly.

A man named Joseph got married to a woman named Mary and adopted her son.

We’re going to learn next week that before they every came together, she was found to be pregnant.

The word “whom” in verse 16 is feminine.

Jesus was born of Mary, but not of Joseph.

He was the husband of Mary but not the biological father of Jesus.

He was the adoptive father of Jesus.

The legal father of Jesus.

And all of these men who came before him lent their Abrahamic and Davidic lines of succession to him.

And this One was born, Jesus.

Born of a virgin.

Another woman in the genealogy!

But not a promiscuous one. A pure one.

She had never laid a man and yet she gave birth to a son.

The son of Father Abraham.

The son of King David. V.16

“Who is called Christ.”

And because He is the Christ:


That’s what "Christ" means.

It means “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”

It means the Rescuer, the Redeemer that was promised.

Jesus is the Christ!

I believe that Matthew shows us whom Jesus is from to show us whom Jesus is for.

I read a tweet this week from Pastor Sam Allberry.

He says, “Matthew’s genealogy includes the outcast, scandalous, and foreigner. The family Jesus comes from anticipates the family he has come for."

That’s why the women are in there.
That’s why the Gentiles are in there.
That’s why the notorious sinners are in there.
That’s why there are people in there that nobody has ever heard of.

Because Jesus came for the unexpected.
Jesus came for the unlikely.
Jesus came for the unknown.
Jesus came for the undeserving.

Jesus came to redeem the lost.

Remember Galatians 3:28? “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Doesn’t matter who you are.

Doesn’t matter whether the world values you or not.

Doesn’t matter if you pretended to be a prostitute or you were a prostitute or you went to visit a prostitute or you killed a woman’s first husband.

Doesn’t matter if you are from this nation or that nation.

Doesn’t matter if you are a natural born citizen or an immigrant.

Doesn’t matter if you’ve been thumbs up or thumbs down.

Jesus has come to rescue you.

That’s what Matthew is saying with this family tree.

That’s what Matthew is saying with Jesus’ genealogy.

He’s saying that Jesus is going to realize all of God’s promises, reign over all of God’s kingdom, and rescue all of God’s people who repent and put their faith in Him.

He did it by dying on the Cross and then walking out of His tomb.

Jesus is the Christ.

And so may He get the glory.