Sermon: The Lineage of the Messiah (Matthew 1:1-17)

The Lineage of the Messiah

Matthew 1:1-17


Truth Taught-God has fulfilled all His promises to Abraham and David in Christ.



Today we officially begin the Gospel of Matthew. I wanted to begin by looking together at what is a Gospel? I’m not referring to the Gospel in the sense of the plan of salvation per se but a Gospel in the sense of the four books we have in our Bibles referred to as Gospels, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

A Gospel is a type of literature it’s in a category by itself. A Gospel has a purpose, each of the four was written with a purpose. They are the chronicles of Jesus. They record who Jesus is, His acts or the things He does and His words, what He says and teaches.

The Gospels are not the same but each writer captures different aspect of Jesus’ life. Sometimes they record the same event and sometimes they record different events.

The Gospels are so important because they give us a window into Jesus’ life. We learn about our Savior first hand in the Gospels.

As we begin we should ask who is Matthew? The writer of the Gospel of Matthew was the Tax Collector that met Jesus and was converted and called to be one of His disciples.

Mark 2:14 (ESV)

14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

In this one verse we see that Levi (Hebrew) Matthew (Greek) was going about his normal day of cheating his own people. There is a whole history behind how one got to be a tax collector and how they sold out their own people to the Romans and how they cheated as many as they could so they could keep the profit. This was Matthew until the divine call entered his ears. In that instant God changed everything in Matthew to make him able to obey Jesus’ command to follow Him. This is a Lazarus type event. In the twinkling of an eye Matthew’s heart was changed from the love of money to the love of Christ and the tax booth no longer was a means of wealth but a burden to be left and he walked out of that booth free and clear and followed Jesus the rest of his life because he found true riches in Jesus. God’s irresistible grace was at work in Matthew’s call. Jesus called Him to be His disciple and Matthew stands up and walks away. It sounds like he left everything behind…the day’s take of money, records, probably even his lunchbox all Matthew could see was Jesus.

Today, Matthew wants to teach us who this Jesus is that changed him so drastically from a thief to a follower. He does this by stating who Jesus is and then gives us the list of His ancestors to prove that what he tells us is true. Here is this long list of descendants he not only tells us who Jesus is but proves to us by His lineage exactly and without a doubt who He is. So, this record is proof and the way Matthew arranges this genealogical record is brilliant and shows God’s sovereignty every step of the way. It is very fitting to begin with The Lineage of the Messiah


Matthew 1:1–17 (ESV)

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

  1. Jesus is the Messiah

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew gives us the record of the Messiah’s lineage. This is literally the Greek reading of the first verse.

Let’s not shoot across this verse and miss the magnificent claim Matthew makes. Matthew is claiming Messiahship for Jesus. He does this first by calling Him Christ, which is the Greek title for Messiah. Matthew calls Jesus the Messiah. Make no mistake Jesus is the long awaited Messiah Matthew says He is.

  1. The Messiah is the Son of David

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

He is also the Messiah by virtue of the fact that Jesus is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham.

Why is this important? I want to answer that question first. It is important because Messiah means King. Here’s where being the Son of David finds significance.

God made a covenant with King David and promised him that his kingdom would never end, that there would always be a King sitting on his throne and ruling his kingdom.

2 Samuel 7:12–13 (ESV)

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Notice some aspect of God’s promise to David…
The eternal King would be one of David’s descendants.

I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body

This eternal kingdom will not be David’s doing but God will do it.

and I will establish his kingdom.

This Eternal King will build God a dynasty.

13 He shall build a house for my name

God will establish David’s throne forever.

If we turn to the Book of Isaiah we discover other key characteristics of the Messiah or eternal King over the Throne of David…

Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)

   For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

       and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

       Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

   Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

       on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

       with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

       The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

  1. The Messiah is the Son of Abraham

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Last time we looked at the many implications of our Lord being the Son of Abraham. The main idea that Matthew wants us to see here is that the Son of Abraham will, in fact, be the One who fulfills the Abrahamic Covenant to bless the nations. Last week we looked at the covenant God made with Abraham to see that through his offspring the nations would be blessed.

We also looked to Galatians 3 to discover who the offspring is. We learned it is Jesus.

So Matthew makes the claim that Jesus is the Messiah and then proves it by tracing His family tree back through King David to Abraham..

Matthew shows us in this very first verse that all the promises God made with Israel find their fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah.

The promise He made with David and David’s Kingdom having no end is fulfilled in Jesus. He is the rightful heir to the Throne of David. The promise God made to Abraham that all the nations of the would would be blessed through his descendant finds it’s fulfillment in Jesus. He is the Offspring of Abraham who will be the blessing to the nations.

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

Again Matthew calls Jesus, Messiah. Matthew has shown us inconclusive evidence that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah.

  1. Jesus is the Only Possible Messiah

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

The interpretive center or key to this section is that everything is arranged to focus our attention on the House of David.

The first grouping of 14 from Abraham to King David show us the ascent of the Davidic Kingdom. This shows of course all the good things and bad through the human history of God establishing David’s Throne. We get a sense of this David clan moving up. Things seem to be getting better and better.

The second grouping of 14 from David to the deportation to Babylon shows us the descent of the Davidic Kingdom. David is involved with Bathsheba producing Solomon and things go downhill from there and have very wicked kings such as Manasseh etc and end in Babylon captivity because of the sin of Israel. Things are looking very bad for the Davidic Kingdom. We see the fall of the kingdom and the division of the kingdom.

The third grouping of 14 begins with the lowest point of the Davidic Kingdom and it really doesn’t get much better…then Jesus is born.

The point is that every person mentioned in the genealogy of the Messiah is a sinner. There are no shinning lights as far as humanity goes. Matthew’s focus is not so much on the people, their names, and their lives but on what God has done. God has kept His promise to Abraham and David in spite of the sinfulness of man. God is the Hero in the Davidic Line. God does it.

There is something else Matthew shows us…

Not only is Jesus in the Davidic line to qualify to be the Messiah but Matthew shows us that He is the only possibility. Now as we look at verse 17 I want to preface what I’m about to say with the idea that sometimes Hebrew literature has assign numeric values to letters. I’m not endorsing preposterous conclusions such as hidden codes contained in the Bible as some have. Here in verse 17 Matthew is doing something amazing with the number 14 and David’s name.

Gematria is an alphanumeric code of assigning a numerical value to a name, word or phrase based on its letters.

Throughout Matthew’s Gospel he will ascribe to Jesus the title Son of David some ten or more times. So, what Matthew does here is prove to us that Jesus is the only possible Messiah, Son of David.

How does he do that?

The name David in Hebrew is simply spelled Deled Vav Deled we would say in English DVD. It’s DVD with no vowels because in original Hebrew there are only consonants and the vowels are added when the words are spoken.

So it goes like this…there are three letters in David’s name: Deled (D) is the 4th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and Vav (V) is the 6th letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Here’s what Matthew is doing. He tells us…

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

David’s number in Hebrew is 14 D=4…V=6…D=4 add them up and you get 14. So, what Matthew tells us is the three sets of generational groupings give us 14 three times and the final descendant that completes this three sets of 14 is Jesus and only Jesus. One person before or after Jesus would not qualify to be the King of Kings only Jesus. He is the only possibility there are no other options and Matthew wants to show us that.

D A Carson writes, Observe that the numeric value of David in Hebrew is fourteen. By this symbolism Matthew points that the promised Son of David, the Messiah, has come.[1]

So his point here is that there were others who could claim to be in the lineage of David and could possibly claim to be the Messiah but only Jesus falls in line and lands on the third grouping of 14. Only Jesus out of the billions of people who have ever lived on earth has the sole and rightful claim to be the Messiah, Son of David.

Can you imagine the utter sovereignty involved? Jesus lands as the only possible rightful heir to the Throne of David and to be the Messiah. Jesus is the only possibility that is legitimate.


I pray today that our faith is growing and becoming stronger and stronger as we see God’s sovereignty throughout the centuries. When He makes a promise it will come to pass, God will do it.

Are you living in light of all God’s promises? Are you confident in His Word?

There is nothing that can keep God’s promises from being fulfilled, not a fallen David Kingdom and not a fallen humanity.

Live confident in God’s Word. Obey and follow Jesus because what He tells us will take place.



*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible


[1] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Matthew by D A Carson, 69

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