Descent of the Messiah (part 4)
From the devotional Day by Day in the Gospel of Matthew by Chuck Gianotti.
Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
The genealogy of Christ contains a variety of individuals—some highly revered, some shady characters, and many nondescript people. In fact, some in His background are mentioned only in this list. While Zerubbabel was in the line of David and a significant governor of Israel after the Babylonian captivity, his immediate descendants, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, and Matthan, were somewhat obscure in Jewish history, except for their mention in the heritage of Jesus. Indeed, the line of David fell into relative obscurity after the Babylonian captivity.
Is this just an unimportant, extraneous, and unnecessary detail in a boring section of Scripture? There is great importance in the inclusion of these names. First, they establish the direct tie between Jesus and the dynasty of David to His right to inherit David’s throne. Second, they demonstrate God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise to David that his throne would last forever. In Jesus, this would be the case. Third, and on a more personal note, the mere mention of a man’s name in Scripture was a high honor for that man. It reminds us that it is extremely significant that the name of every single believer is written down in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 13:8; 21:27)!
The blood line in Matthew’s list ends with Joseph, the husband of Mary, who was the earthly mother of Jesus. The original Greek clearly establishes Jesus’ biological relationship to Mary but not to Joseph—the adoptive father. Joseph was married to Mary, through whom deity infiltrated humanity. Jesus had no biological father, the Holy Spirit having impregnated Mary (Luke 1:35). Mary, the fourth woman mentioned, was herself a woman of scandal, supposed by some Jews of that day to have borne an illegitimate child. Yet her role provided the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide a Messiah for Israel in the line of David. God always keeps His promises!