The New Testament begins with a genealogy of Christ, tracing His lineage through His adoptive father Joseph.  Any man who claimed to be Messiah must of necessity be able to meet certain criteria.  Matthew, who is commonly thought to be writing his gospel to a Jewish audience, begins at once to set forth that Jesus Christ meets every requirement Old Testament prophecy would make of one claiming to be the Messiah.

Before one claiming to be Messiah began to perform any great work or deliver any heavenly utterances, he must first  prove to be of the proper lineage.  This necessitated that said Messiah must be a son of Abraham.  Matthew proves this at once in verse 2: “Abraham begat Isaac…”  The proper understanding of the Abrahamic covenant, contained in the words, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” is that blessings would flow to every kindred, tongue, tribe, and nation through the Messiah that would come from Abraham’s loins.  That one son given to Abraham was not given simply to show that God could work a miracle in enlivening the womb of a withered old woman.  Rather, it was done as a crucial link in the chain of salvation, a line which would culminate in one person, the Son of God, even Jesus Christ.  All the promises given to Abraham, while they in certain cases had some pertinence to the nation of Israel corporately, have their ultimate fulfillment in the person and work of Christ.  The nation itself was a miserable failure, never managing to serve acceptably the God Who brought them into covenant with Himself.  But, where Israel as a nation failed, Jesus Christ succeeded.  He kept every covenant, fulfilled every law, wrought out an acceptable righteousness which God would approve; whereas that nation only brought upon itself judgment by its persistent wickedness and rebellion.  Indeed, that covenant of which He is the Surety is a better covenant, and it is founded upon better promises.

Secondly, the Messiah must come of the seed of David.  This truth was founded upon the Old Testament, and well understood by the scribes of Jesus’ day.  He put that very point to them in Matthew 22:42: “What think ye of Christ, Whose son is He?”  They rightly answered that He must be the Son of David.  This, of course, our Lord did to confront them with the stupidity of their own unbelief, when they were rejecting Him in spite of the incontrovertible proof of His Messiahship.

The Davidic lineage of the Messiah was a thing beyond controversy.  Psalm 89:29 spoke of it, when Ethan the Ezrahite prophesied that the seed of David would endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.  Indeed, the promise was made to David himself.  After the Lord commanded David not to build a temple for Him, He magnified His grace to David by saying he would build up his house.  II Samuel 7:13, speaking of the son of David, whose magnificence was so great it must refer to one greater even than Solomon: “He shall build an house for My Name, and I will stablish the throne of His kingdom for ever.”  Solomon’s kingdom had an end, in the days of Nebuchadnezzar.  But the throne of Jesus Christ is established forever in the heavens.  It is that kingdom which Daniel foresaw, that would break in pieces all other kingdoms, and in time fill up all the earth.  Ezekiel also prophesied of a day when David would be the shepherd and king of the people of God (Ezekiel 37:24, 25).  Clearly, the Scripture teaches no doctrine of reincarnation.  This, then, is not David himself, but David’s greater Son.  This the apostle Peter confirmed in his great Pentecost sermon, Acts 2:30, declaring that David was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn with an oath that he would raise up Christ from the fruit of his loins to sit on his throne.  He is a greater King than David, and has a greater, more majestic throne.  But it was of necessity that he be a descendant of David.  Were this not the case, then the Lord Jesus could have had no rightful claim to be the Christ.  Since He was of that lineage, a fact which is abundantly proven, then neither Jew nor Gentile can raise a challenge against His title to that glorious office.

It is highly remarkable some of the characters that we find in the ancestry of Christ.  One would tend to think that God, in the high regard and infinite love which He has for His only begotten Son, would not allow His bloodline to be tainted by any scandalous sinners.  Yet we do not find this to be the case.  Though there were many great men in His ancestry, as David, as Hezekiah, as Josiah, as Zerubbabel, yet we find that heinous crimes were committed in that line.

It was of necessity that Christ come from the tribe of Judah.  Jacob prophesied this as he was a-dying, in Genesis 49:10.  Yet Judah consorted with prostitutes, slept with his own daughter-in-law, and took part in the selling of Joseph into Egypt.  Though it is likely Judah was later a saved man, the natural mind would not think that God’s incarnate Son should have such an ancestor.  Nor even such an one as David!  Though in many ways he was Christ’s most illustrious ancestor, yet he was also a man who committed adultery and murder.  His son Solomon also, the glory of whose kingdom foreshadowed the days of the Messiah, gave his heart to women and idols.  Many of the kings of Judah were vile idolaters and murderers.  It was king Manasseh whose rampage of murder and idol worship brought destruction upon the kingdom of Judah.  For every Boaz and Ruth, for every Abraham and David, there is an Ahaz or Jechoniah in the line of Christ.  What a marvelous thing, that Christ Himself, when He took flesh, should have such sinful ancestors.  What marvelous condescension it was in our Lord that He was willing, in the first place, to even take flesh and blood; even more so that He would consent to have ancestors many of whom committed the most heinous sins.  Yet the Lord Jesus came to wash away even such sins as David and Manasseh committed.