Jesus, Son of David
Matthew wrote his gospel to the Jews for the specific purpose of proving that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah that they had been anxiously awaiting for thousands of years. Matthew begins with a genealogy. As New Testament readers, our eyes tend to glaze over when we read a genealogical list with all those hard-to-pronounce names of people we do not know and could care less about. But to the Jews, these lists were absolutely essential to prove who they were and where they came from.
The Book of the Genealogy
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
This is the proper title of the chapter. It is the same as to say, “The account of the ancestry or family, or the genealogical table, of Jesus Christ.” The phrase is common in Jewish writings. Compare Gen. 5:1. “This is the book of the generations of Adam,” i. e., the genealogical table of the family or descendants of Adam.
The Importance of Genealogies
One of the main reasons for this interest in pedigrees was that the Jews set the greatest possible store in purity of lineage. If in any man there was the slightest admixture of foreign blood, he lost his right to be called a Jew, and a member of the people of God… So to the Jew it would be a most impressive matter that the pedigree of Jesus be traced back to Abraham. (William Barclay, the Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, Page 12).
The Messiah is identified: Jesus Christ
The name Jesus signifies savior. It is the Greek form of Joshua. The name Christ signifies anointed. Jesus was both priest and king. Among the Jews priests were anointed, as their inauguration to their office. (1 Chronicles 16:22) In the New Testament the name Christ is used as equivalent to the Hebrew Messiah (anointed), (John 1:41) the name given to the long-promised Prophet and King whom the Jews had been taught by their prophets to expect. (Matthew 11:3; Acts 19:4) The use of this name, as applied to the Lord, was always a reference to the promises of the prophets. The name of Jesus is the proper name of our Lord, and that of Christ is added to identify him with the promised Messiah. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary)
The Son of David
The word “son” among the Jews had a great variety of significations. In this place it means a descendant of David, or one who was of the family of David. It was important to trace the genealogy of Jesus up to David, because the promise had been made that the Messiah should be of his family, and all the Jews expected that it would be so. It would be impossible, therefore, to convince a Jew that Jesus was the Messiah, unless it could be shown that he was descended from David. (See 2 Sam. 7:11-16; Ps. 89:3-4; Ps. 132:11; Jer. 23:5)
Son of Abraham
The descendant of Abraham. The promise was made to Abraham also. The Jews expected that the Messiah would be descended from him. It was important, therefore, to trace the genealogy up to him also. In Gen. 12:3 God makes His covenant with Abraham. In Gen 22:17-18 after Abraham obeys God’s command to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, God renews his covenant.
This covenant was subsequently limited to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac, then Jacob, then Judah, then Jesse, then David, then Solomon, and culminating in the Messiah. This is the point Paul is making in Gal. 3:16. Christ was prophesied of under the very name of David. (Ezek. 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25).
The Genealogy of the Messiah
This genealogical list is designed to prove two things.
1. Jesus is of the lineage of David and thus the promised king whose reign will last forever.
2. Jesus is a descendant of Abraham through whom the nations of the world will be blessed
Matthew’s objective in this book is to prove that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah. Every section of the book has some bearing on this question. His object in the genealogy is to show that Jesus is of the right lineage to be the Messiah. God had promised with an oath to David that he would raise up from his offspring the Messiah to sit on his throne (Ps. 89:3-4). This was well understood by both the friends and the foes of Jesus.
This section shows that Jesus possessed this characteristic of the promised Messiah. It does not prove him to be the blood of David, for the blood line, according to Matthew’s own statement in the latter part of this chapter, did not pass from Joseph to Jesus. Jesus was born to Mary after her marriage with Joseph, and consequently, he was Joseph’s lawful heir, and inherited the throne through him. The genealogy does not prove that Jesus is the Messiah, but only that he is of the right lineage. It established one of the facts necessary to the proof of Jesus’ Messiahship.