Where Do Babies Come From?
When our youngest kids were on the eve of adolescence, it was time to have the "talk.” My wife Mary and I took them camping at Caddo Lake and after carefully explaining how the husband plants his seed in the womb of his wife, how it unites with her egg, then implants in her uterus, grows for nine months, and then comes down the mother's birth canal into the world, my son, Josh, said, "Dad, I learned all that in the Encyclopedia Britannica in the school library a couple of years ago,” and my daughter, Jenae (who now has three boys of her own}, yawned and said, "Now, can we go canoeing?"
After all, everyone knows where baby's come from and that's what makes the conclusion of Matthew's genealogy of Jesus so weird. From Abraham to David to Jacob, the father of Joseph, Mary's husband, Matthew follows the normal pattern: father X generates son Y, and four times he adds—out of mom Z. But when Matthew presents the final link to Jesus, he writes,
"Jacob generated Joseph, the husband of Mary, out of whom was generated Jesus, the one who is called the Christ (Messiah)." Matthew 1:16
Matthew breaks the formula. He never says that Joseph generated Jesus. Joseph is Jesus' legal father, but not his physical father, and this leaves us with a question. If Joseph is not Jesus' physical father, then who is? How in the world did Mary get pregnant? This is the hook that leads us forward to Matthew's description of the wondrous conception and birth of Jesus from Joseph's perspective—the story Matthew will tell us in Matthew 1:17-25. Before he takes us to this unique episode, however, Matthew summarizes things.
He calls our attention to how he has ordered the promised line from Abraham to David to Jesus in three groups of fourteen (Matthew 1:17). From Abraham to David and the establishment of the United Kingdom under David was fourteen generations (Matt. 1:2-6). From David to the Exile and the destruction of the Kingdom under Jeconiah was another fourteen generations (Matthew 1:6-11). And from the end of the Exile to the birth of Jesus was another fourteen generations (Matthew 1:12-16).
By this uniformity Matthew challenges us to believe that the Lord is in control of history. He was able to build His Kingdom through David. He was still in control when he allowed the Babylonians to tear it down. And now that the ultimate Son of David has come, Matthew challenges us to ask, “What kind of a Kingdom will the Lord build through this New David and how will he do it?”
By not saying that Joseph generated Jesus Matthew implants the suggestion that this New Kingdom is not going to be built the normal way by the blood and guts of human warfare but by an invasion from beyond this world.
LORD, we have learned through Matthew's genealogy that you did keep your promise to Abraham and Sarah and You showed us that you didn't allow the Babylonian Exile to destroy the Davidic line. For five hundred years you preserved this "seed" from Zurabbabel to Joseph so that Jesus would have a legal claim to the Davidic throne. But then you did your "genesis" thing, a miracle. Help us understand that the only Kingdom worth living for is not generated by human sweat and blood. It takes your miraculous gift. Open hearts to your Gift, your Son, this Christmas Season.
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