The Four Faces of Jesus: David’s Son (Part 6) (4-16-17)

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6)

The book of Matthew is composed of 28 chapters with a combined 1,071 verses. His book has been dubbed as one of the three Synoptic Gospels due to its near identical sequence of events revolving around the story of Jesus. Biblical scholars bestowed this title upon Matthew, Mark, and Luke because “synoptic” in Greek is formulated by two words meaning “seen together.” The striking resemblance between the three scribes comes to the forefront especially when compared to the Gospel account of John. It has already been determined that Matthew directed his book for the Jew living in Jerusalem. His purpose was to convince those who had lingering doubts that Jesus of Nazareth was the prophesied Messiah. In an earlier article of this series, we were able to learn that the Jews struggled accepting Jesus as their Messiah primordially because they interpreted the Messianic prophecies very literally. One in particular, which they desperately wanted to be literal, was the restoration of David’s throne. When our Lord and Savior was born into this world, Judea was ruled by the corrupt and perverse Herod the Great. The southern kingdom of Judah (known as Judea during Jesus’ lifetime) had been ruled by several different kingdoms before the arrival of Herod. History reveals that Rome assisted Herod in conquering the Palestinian region and in 37 B.C. the Roman senate appointed him as the ruler of Judea. Herod was despised by the Jews because of his merciless cruelty, but mainly because he was accused of usurping the throne. They utterly rejected Herod as their ruler because he was born in Idumea and was only Jewish by religion; not birth. Therefore, allowing Herod to reign in Palestine created an incredibly unstable and tumultuous region to rule. Having an insatiable lust for power, Herod’s knowledge of the people’s rejection of him as their king and their burning desire for the throne of David to be restored fed his brutality and distrust. His obsessive fear of losing his throne drove him so insane that he even executed his wife, Mariamne, because he suspected her of treachery. Herod’s lunacy exasperated the Jews yearning for the Lord’s promise that “I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell safely” (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Two aspects from this prophecy took center stage for the people of Judea. First, that their Savior would be from the lineage of David; secondly, that he would restore the kingdom of Israel. For them, salvation meant that they would once more be a powerful kingdom in the land and that they would no longer be ruled by pagan rulers. Therefore, because Jesus did not achieve this task as they expected, many of the Jews could not accept Him as their Savior. Knowing of his compatriots’ disappointment as a consequence of their misinterpretation of the Messianic prophecies, Matthew presents Jesus’ royal claim to David’s prophetic throne. This is why he begins the Master’s genealogy by stating “The book of genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). In stating that Jesus was the “Son of David,” Matthew boldly claims that Jesus of Nazareth was their long awaited King. It is wise to also note the importance of calling Him the “Son of Abraham.” The inspired scribe was not only establishing the Lord’s rightful claim to David’s crown, but he was demonstrating the purity of His bloodline since it extended back to Father Abraham himself. This confirmed that our Lord was Jewish by birth, but also an Israelite like David. Matthew quotes approximately 53 passages from the Old Testament and explains their spiritual accomplishment to eradicate any doubt of the Savior’s rightful claim of being the Christ. However it is curious to note that in his presentation of the Lord’s genealogy, Matthew includes four women, apart from Mary His mother. This was not accidental since the very first Messianic prophecy established “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed” (Genesis 3:15). The apostle Paul confirms Matthew’s understanding of the fulfillment of this prophecy as he taught that “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons”

(Galatians 4:4-5). His wise decision to include these five women in Jesus’ legal genealogy is emphasized by Matthew in clarifying that “after His mother, Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). His specificity that Mary’s child belonged to the Holy Spirit and not Joseph, seeks to remind the Jews that it was the woman’s seed that would achieve the completion of the Messianic prophecies. He also explains that the salvation they waited for did arrive since “she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Matthew masterfully demonstrated to his co-citizens that the necessary salvation was not from their physical oppressors, rather from their spiritual ones. Therefore, since salvation was spiritual this meant that the Kingdom of David, too, was spiritual. After Peter receives his revelation about Jesus’ true identity, the Master manifests that “on this rock I will build My churchand I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19). With these words, our Master taught that the church is His kingdom. In fact, the Gospel account of Matthew is the only one of the four that uses the word church. However, this inspired scribe makes it abundantly clear that the Lord’s kingdom was not exclusive to the Jews. Recalling the fact that Jesus is also called the “Son of Abraham,” this epithet alluded to Jehovah’s promise to Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). This promise was brought into existence through Jesus in Christianity. Matthew sagely allayed the doubts of Jews regarding Jesus’ claim to the throne. It is wonderful to also know that although He was King, Jesus did not consider it beneath Him to serve His kingdom. To be continued…

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