Matthew 1:1-17; 5:17; 16:13-16; 21:9; John 8:56; Galatians 3:16, 29
January 14, 2018 • Download this sermon (PDF)
Jesus is the Messiah (Christ), Son of God, Son of Man
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Today, we begin a study of the Gospel of Matthew, which has an introduction that most people today would consider trivial, even boring. Who wants to read a list of unfamiliar, even unreadable, names in an ancient genealogy? Even Christians familiar with Bible stories wouldn’t recognize Amminadab, Jehoshaphat and Jechoniah.
If we today are interested in our genealogy, it was even more important to Jews. Why? The Law of Moses prohibits Jews from marrying non-Jews, so they have to make sure of the Jewish ancestry of their future spouses. Priests also have to come from the line of Aaron. Kings have to come from David’s family. So the Book of Genesis alone has a dozen genealogies, in addition to those in Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. The New Testament has two genealogies for Jesus, one in our text in Matthew, and another on Luke 3. But these two genealogies differ in many places. But why?
Matthew’s audience was largely Jews who were waiting for the prophesied Messiah to come. So his concern was to show that Jesus legally descended from David and Judah, and therefore qualified to be king of the Jews. So he lists the ancestry of Jesus all the way back to David and Abraham. Luke’s target, on the other hand, were Gentiles so he wanted to show that the gospel of Jesus was for everyone. Not only was Jesus the Son of Abraham and the Son of David, but he was also the Son of Adam, the father of all mankind, men and women from every and nation in the whole world. And in showing that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ, we also see that Jesus is the God-Man: Son of God and Son of Man.
Jesus, Son of Abraham
Matthew starts his Gospel with, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” He begins with Abraham, down the line to his adoptive father, “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (v 16). Why is it important to Matthew’s Jewish audience that Jesus is a descendant of Abraham? This is because all Jews knew that the Messiah or the Christ must be a descendant of Abraham, the father of the nation Israel.
In Genesis 12:1-3, when God first appeared to Abraham, he made two promises to him: a multitude of children, and a land for these children. Then in verse 7, God promised him, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Who is this offspring to whom this land will be given? Paul has the answer in Galatians 3:16-17,
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
The son of Abraham is Jesus himself!
Then Paul adds later in Galatians 3:29, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Who are Abraham’s children? We are! All of us who belong to Christ, who believe in Christ as Savior and Lord, Jews or Gentiles, are Abraham’s children. And we are the heirs of God’s promises to Abraham. Are we to inherit the land of Israel? By no means! The Jews were looking for a Messiah who would liberate them from the Roman oppression and give them back their land. But we Christians look forward to a heavenly country, not an earthly one. Even Abraham himself did not count Canaan as his permanent dwelling-place, but only a pilgrim there, because he looked forward to a better and heavenly country (Heb 11:10, 16).
Is your gaze fixed on this earthly dwelling-place? It is often difficult, even for Christians, to have Abraham’s pilgrim mindset. When things are going right for us, we love this world. We love our homes, our cars, our jobs, our food and drink. How do we keep our gaze fixed on our permanent, heavenly dwelling-place? By remembering that all of these earthly things are temporal and will disappear, either when we die or when Jesus returns from heaven. The only things that are permanent are our inheritance: heaven, with all its blessings and joys of dwelling with God forever.
Therefore, Paul exhorts us in Colossians 3:1–2, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
Jesus, Son of David
Matthew traces Jesus’ line from Abraham to King David, and down through the line of kings descended after him. Again, why is this important to Jews?
Back in Genesis 49:10, we read of Jacob’s blessing on his son Judah, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” This is actually a prophecy that a King to whom all people will pay tribute and obey will come from the tribe of Judah, one of Jacob’s twelve sons. Then in Numbers 24:17, we read of another prophecy about a coming King from Jacob, “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel,” who will crush his enemies. So it was crucial that Matthew show that Jesus descended from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah.
Then, down the line came David, whom God anointed as king of Israel. God made a covenant with King David in 2 Samuel 7:14 about his throne. God promised him a Son, saying, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” To Jews, this son was King Solomon, who will build the temple in Jerusalem. But in Hebrews 1:5, the writer applies this same promise by God to David to Christ alone, and not to any other man or angel, saying, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son’”?
So when Jesus began his ministry, he preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). But was he preaching about restoring the kingdom of Israel? By no means! He was preaching about the kingdom of God, not Israel, not the medieval Christendom, much less America. It’s the heavenly kingdom made up of all who believe in him from all nations as the king of both Jews and Gentiles. At his last entry into Jerusalem, the Jews correctly acclaimed him as the Messiah, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matt 21:9) But they had the wrong reasons for believing: they wanted him to lead the Jews in throwing out the Roman oppressors. Therefore, at his trial, he answered Pilate when he asked if he was the king of the Jews, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
Beloved Christians, Jesus already inaugurated his kingdom 2,000 years ago. And you are already citizens of his heavenly kingdom. You don’t have to wait for his Second Coming, because Paul teaches in Ephesians 2:19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” And, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).
Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man
What Matthew is getting to when he says that Jesus is the Son of Abraham and Son of David is that he is the Messiah. And this Messiah is the Son of God and the Son of Man. But what do these two titles mean?
Son of God
When Jesus was announced to Mary, the angel said he will be called “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). In Hosea 11:1, God called Israel “my son,” saying, “Out of Egypt, I called my son,” referring to Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. But Matthew applies this verse to the child Jesus after his family returned from Egypt, “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (Matt 2:15). Then at his baptism, he was affirmed by his Father from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17).
In the Old Testament, one of the most important reference to the Son of God is in Psalm 2:7, where Yahweh says, “You are my son; today I have begotten you.” Paul in Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5 then apply the fulfillment of this verse to Jesus. The familiar John 3:16 tells us that Jesus is God’s “only-begotten Son,” but what does “begotten” mean? Most Christians do not understand this word, so all of the modern translations (including the NIV and ESV) translate it as “one and only.” But this word is much deeper than this simplified translation.
Even some of the most well-known theologians today misinterpret “begotten” in terms of the physical relationship of a son being born to a father. For example, a recent book says, “But the term ‘begotten’ could never be defined with any clarity, so it was of little use.” Therefore, it says, it is “best to omit the creedal terms ‘begotten’ . . . from our definition of the Trinity.”[footnote]Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), 28.[/footnote] This is also what the ancient Arian heresy, which is still very much alive today among many cults, did not understand.[footnote]For a more comprehensive explanation of “begotten,” see Clark, R. Scott (2014, August 29). Heidelberg 33: God’s Eternally And Only Begotten Son And His Adopted Sons (2). [Web log post]. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from https://heidelblog.net/2014/08/gods-eternally-and-only-begotten-son-and-his-adopted-sons/.[/footnote]
In John 1:1, we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then in verse 14, we read, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” clearly referring to the Son of God fully assuming human flesh and blood. So Jesus was God the only-begotten Son from eternity past before the creation of the world. There was no moment in eternity when he was not the Son of God. He is co-existent and is of the same essence with God the Father from everlasting to everlasting. This is the much-misunderstood meaning of “only-begotten Son.”
Jesus is also called the “firstborn” Son of God. In reference to Jesus, “firstborn” does not only mean that he was Mary’s firstborn son, but three other meanings. First, he existed before all creation, therefore, eternal, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15). Second, God gave him the rightful position and inheritance of a firstborn son, “the firstborn among many brothers,” all those whom he will save (Rom 8:29; also Heb 2:11-17). And third, he was the first to be raised from the dead never to die again, “the firstborn of the dead” (Rev 1:5; cf Col 1:18).
Son of Man
We also affirm that Jesus is the “Son of Man,” a term which Jesus called himself over 80 times in the four Gospels. This term connotes the humanity of Jesus, but it also refers to his divinity.
The title “Son of Man” is well-known to the Jews as a reference to the Messiah. The text is Daniel 7:9-14, where Daniel saw a vision of God, the ancient of days sitting on his throne. But Daniel sees another Person in verses 13-14, saying,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion.
But Jesus says in Matthew 24:30, “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man . . . and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (see also Rev 1:7; 14:14). He also says in Matthew 26:64, “from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” In these passages, Jesus was clearly referring to Daniel 9 as a vision of his Second Coming,
Therefore, when Jesus called himself the “Son of Man,” he was teaching the Jews that he is the Messiah who came down from heaven (John 6:51), and that he will again return in the clouds of heaven as the King to reign over his kingdom forever (Acts 1:9-11).
Dear friends: Let us be clear as to what we believe about our Lord Jesus Christ, because there are many religions who say they believe in Jesus. But is their Jesus the same Jesus that we worship as God? Is their Jesus the same Jesus who came down from heaven as the Son of God to assume human flesh and blood?
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. All of these titles affirm his full divinity and full humanity. He is the perfect God-Man who has fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets.
Let us be clear that Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, liberals, and all other people who do not recognize and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man, the Messiah, are bound for eternal punishment in hell. They will not be saved as long as they do not repent of their unbelief and sins. Therefore, let us remember these two verses to refute unbelievers and skeptics:
1 John 2:22: Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:15: Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
The Athanasian Creed is also clear:
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.