The Greatest Story Ever Told

Continue the conversation at home:

Ask these questions

  • What kind of people do we expect God to work through?
  • What does Matthew 1:1-17 tell us about who God worked through?
  • What surprised you about Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, or Bathsheba's story?
  • What are some of the unexpected ways you have seen God at work?

Want to hear the greatest story ever told? 

Last night we started our series on the Gospel of Matthew we're calling Follow the Star. We'll be looking at the nativity story in Matthew over the next few weeks. Last night we focused on the part everyone skips over but when reading it in the context of Matthew's Gospel it is the greatest story ever told. Are you ready for it? Here it is:

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

How about that for a story?

Still not convinced?

While we may think this is a genealogy (it says so in the first verse), it's not actually. If we literally translate the greek in the first verse we see that genealogy is actually "book of genesis" and genesis has four possible translations that could be beneficial to our understanding of what Matthew is trying to do here. 

  1. Genesis as continuing life and presence
  2. Genesis as origins, beginnings, and birth
  3. Genesis as the first book of the Torah and the beginning of God's revelation to his people
  4. Genesis as history or continuing story

Matthew is not telling a genealogy. How do we know this? Because he leaves out a bunch of people. At one point, he jumps over 400 years worth of Israel's history and at another jumps 200 years between Rahab and Boaz. Matthew is setting up a story that has three distinct parts of God's interaction with Israel, Genesis to David, David to the exile, and the exile to the Messiah. We also know that Matthew's  main point is not to record a genealogy because of who is included in the record. Five women are mentioned, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba are all gentiles. Jewish genealogies at this time would not have included women, let alone gentiles. 

So why are the women there?

Matthew includes these women in order to incorporate their story into his larger narrative. His story is about God's revelation and presence within the life of Israel and Matthew uses these women as examples of God's work. Read the story of Tamar in Genesis 38 and you'll see the plot of an episode of Jerry Springer, yet these are the people God chooses to work through. God fulfills his promise through the people we least expect, in ways we don't expect. 

Matthew will tell a story of a suffering servant, born in a tiny town, who will go on to save the world. The story then ends with this:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:16-20 NIV

The story continues with the story of the church, a story you and I are invited to be a part of. Matthew's gospel is a story of God's work throughout history, the fulfilling of his promises, working with broken people, and in unexpected ways, and it ends by saying you are invited to write the next chapter. 

How about that for the greatest story ever told?