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Long Line of Grace
by Cale Fauver
The Book of Genealogy
When the time has come for you to begin reading the gospel according to Matthew, you start with this opening line: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). And then what is the next temptation we experience? To blaze through the genealogy of names given. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob….and then sooner or later we get to the ‘good stuff’ of verse 18 where the New Testament actually begins to take off. However, this inspired genealogy from the Holy Spirit means to tell us something about the world, about sinners, and about the God-centeredness of a sinful, human history — it is about the glory Jesus Christ.
The Centrality of Jesus Christ
Note the main focus of this line of names as bookmarked or bracketed (called an inclusio) for us: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way…” (v.1 and v.18). The section starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus. Do you see the focal point of this chapter? Do you see God’s heart in the middle of human history, amidst many levels of personalities, ages, and types of people? Jesus!
The purpose of human history in a sinful world is the exaltation of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (cf. Revelation 13:8). Paul writes, “For by him [Christ] all things were created…all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). The world, human history, and even the act of sinful rebellion exists for God to display his infinite mercy and grace through the sending of the Son to become man, to bear the wrath for the sin and guilt of many, and to rise again in power to rule from the right hand of the Father — this is the purpose of human history. So, when we feel the mundaneness of life; as if we were just another name in the genealogy of the world, rest. Remember Matthew 1 and the list of names that seem and look as a means to take up space. Know that you do not exist for yourself — you exist for the glory and renown of Jesus Christ, that he might display his perfect patience in you (1 Timothy 1:16). For from him and to him and through him are all things — whether life or death, we live to the glory of God.
He Will Save His People From Their Sins
In this line, we also see the common thread of humanity: sinfulness. We know some names, we know their ways; we know how they have fallen (in a few specific ways). They stand as great blemishes, it appears. And yet, whether or not we see it, something deep and omnipotent runs through this thread of humanity: grace. Men are not saved or brought to spiritual life by their own bloodline or will — God reaches down into history and rescues rebels by his power. He does this for the praise of his glorious grace (cf. Ephesians 1:6).
We look to Christ and his omnipotent power to save sinners to the uttermost. God chose Abraham, a pagan from the land of Ur. He was an idolator, a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel. And yet, God sovereignly chose Abraham. There are no sinners too far from God’s mighty power — he saves to the uttermost (cf. Hebrews 7:25). And this was the purpose of the Lord Jesus by coming to his own people as one of his people: to save them from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He will save his people from their sins. Grace doesn’t run naturally through a bloodline, so Christ entered into one.
In a long line of men and women the centrality of human history is Jesus Christ. We exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Cale is an MDiv student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Kelly live in Kansas City with their son, Jude. You can find some of his other writings at News From Afar, and follow him on Twitter.