Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
(Genesis 49:2.8-10; Matthew 1:1-17)
The tedium of reading Jesus’ genealogy in the Gospel of either Matthew or Luke causes some to reel. But it is worth a second look. The two lists differ in places so it is impossible that both are historically accurate. But each relates important truths that have become part of our faith tradition. We should see the genealogies like DNA codes that reveal something of Jesus’ innate makeup.
In Matthew’s genealogy the list highlights Jesus’ descent from David, the great king of Israel, and also from Abraham, to whom God made the promise of a blessing to all nations. Jesus, we may say, is the royal Messiah whom has God has sent to lead the human race.
The list also conveys a sense of the world’s readiness for salvation as it divides Jesus’ ancestors in three groups of fourteen generations. Matthew uses the convention of fourteen (two times seven) articles to indicate double fulfillment. As Jesus completes three sets of fourteen generations, we should see him as the conclusion of all history. He has delivered the world into a new age of grace, not the status quo of sin.
Finally, the series refers to five women – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, “the wife of Uriah”, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. These remarkable people show how God works in unexpected and even, given the virgin birth, unheard of ways to accomplish His ends.