The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram.
The becoming flesh of the Word!
How in the generations which go back to Abraham, the flesh which the Son of God presently shall assume from Mary became—that is pictured to us here in the book of the generation of Jesus Christ.
This it is that is indicated in the meaning of the original word which is here translated “generation.” The word is literally genesis; and genesis means becoming, origin, so that we may translate: “the book of the becoming of Jesus Christ.” And this “becoming” does not refer to His birth: for this is described in verses 18 to 25 of this chapter, while the heading with which this chapter begins covers only the first 17 verses. In these verses, therefore, we have description of thebecoming of Jesus Christ in the generations of the forefathers.
But therefore it must also be an established fact that we have here the genealogy, not of Joseph, but of Mary.
Apparently this is not true.
At the end of this book of the generation we read: “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”
Two things, however, are established. Mary was of the seed of David, for according to the flesh Christ is of David’s generation. And Joseph, the husband of Mary, was not Jesus’ father, for the Christ of God did not become flesh through the will of man. If, therefore, we have here the book of the origin and the becoming of Jesus Christ, that is, not the legal, but the organic line of the generations which end in Jesus Christ, then the line must continue to Christ, then it cannot be broken off with Joseph, then it runs through by way of Mary. Only when we have here the genealogical register of Mary can we do justice to the heading: The Book of theGenesis of Jesus Christ.
But what about Joseph then?
How then can he be inserted in this “book of the generation of Jesus Christ?”
If that line of David’s generations, out of which the Christ should be born, ended in a virgin, in order that the human impossibility and hopelessness of the promise might become completely clear, then Jacob (verse 16) had no son, then Mary was his heiress, and then her husband was incorporated in the generation of Jacob.
Moreover, then Joseph was enrolled in the register as the legal father of Jesus.
And thus also there was provided for the virgin who conceived and brought forth a son protection against the slander of evil tongues.
Merciful wisdom of God!
The becoming of Jesus Christ!
The son of David . . . the son of Abraham!
Jesus! That was His name among men. And with that name he disappeared among men. For, except now by those who hoped for the fulfillment of the promise and who knew and believed the Word of God which was given in connection with that name, there was at that time no longer any special significance attached to the name Jesus.
Who could not call his son Jesus?
And was not Jesus the son of Joseph, the carpenter? Did they not know his father, and his mother, and his brothers and sisters? Besides, was he not also the Nazarene? And would men expect anything special out of Nazareth?
No, as far as men were concerned, with respect to the flesh, there was also in that name neither form nor comeliness. It simply indicated that this Jesus, with many other Jesuses, assumed his place among men.
Jesus, thus he was called. And if now one said no more about it, and attached no special significance to it, no one would have any objections.
With the name Christ things stood somewhat differently. For Christ was not His Name, but His Title. And about the title there would first have to be a debate! For Christ is Messiah, Anointed, the Expected One, the One Who should come. And although the name Jesus could very well be born by a man among men, and men would neither deny Him nor begrudge Him that name, that Jesus is the Christ men would deny. That the flesh would oppose with all its might to the bitter end, the end of the cross.
And nevertheless, He is Jesus, the Christ! Jesus, not merely among other Jesuses, but as the One Who also indeed was what His name indicated: Jehovah Salvation, the God of our complete salvation, Who shall save His people from their sins. And this Jesus, no matter how the flesh may murmur against it, is indeed the Christ, ordained and anointed by God from eternity, Who should raise up Israel’s throne out of the mire, Who should sit upon the throne of David forever, and Who on that throne should reign over all peoples.
Therefore He is also Son of David and Son of Abraham.
That could not be otherwise.
Thus it was revealed centuries before to Abraham, when Jehovah God preached the gospel to him (Gal. 3:8): In thee shall all nations be blessed. Upon Abraham rested the promise, and upon his seed. And that seed was Christ, For “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Jesus, Who shall save His people from their sins, and in Whom all nations would be blessed, must therefore be the Son of Abraham.
But the Christ must also be born out of David’s line.
David was the God-appointed king of Israel, was he not? And his line was the royal line. Out of Abraham, through Judah, the line of the everlasting kingship ran over David. Thus it was revealed: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever.” II Sam. 7:7-16.
Upon David’s seed Israel’s hope was fixed.
Of this the people of God loved to sing already in the old dispensation:
“With My own chosen one, e’en David,” God affirmed,
“I’ve made a covenant, with sacred oath confirmed; I’ve sworn in truth to him, My servant: ‘I will surely
Build up thy lustrous throne through every age securely;
Forever will thy seed, in spite of degradation, Endure upon thy throne through every generation.'”
And that hope was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth!
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ is open for inspection!
Son of David . . . Son of Abraham!
Wonder of God!
The becoming and origin of Jesus Christ!
Or who, upon reading this book of the generation of Jesus Christ is not struck by the human impossibility of this becoming, and by the revelation therein of the wonder of God, Who quickeneth the dead?
Indeed, it is life out of the dead! This it is that this Spirit inspired book would have us understand from the very outset through the arrangement in three-times-fourteen generations, vs. 17.
You understand, do you not, that this symbolism was purposely chosen? In the reality of human history it was not thus. There were more generations. Purposely some generations are skipped over in order to arrive at the symbolism of three-times-fourteen.
And does, then, this symbolism not already speak loudly of the fact that God reveals His miraculous power precisely there where all human possibility has ceased, in order that He should reveal Himself as the God Who quickeneth the dead? Are there not indicated, then, by these three-times-fourteen three periods in the expectation of Israel of two-times-seven each? And is, then, not seven, as six-plus-one, as labor and rest, the symbol of the perfected work of God, of the coming of His kingdom, of the fulfillment of the promise? And does not this two-times-seven not point, then, to a double waiting of God’s people in the old dispensation, so that it indeed had to appear as if God repeatedly delayed the promise? And did not God’s people, then, in this period of two-times-seven not receive double for all their sins? And did then not this period end repeatedly, even thrice, in a human impossibility, so that one indeed had to become weary of waiting or had to believe in hope against hope?
From Abraham to David!
Two-times-seven! Long they had waited! The time was long past! But then in David at last the fulfillment of the promise seemed to have dawned! But then not! Again the promise is postponed. David shall not build an house for the Lord. Again there is mention of his seed! And from that point the direction is steadily downward. From David into . . . how dreadful! . . . the Babylonian Captivity: death, the grave. Now all is lost! But no! The promise continues to speak. Zerubbabel comes! The prince! But alas! also his splendor fades; and it becomes steadily darker, until finally nothing remains except a virgin from the house of David, while Esau sits on David’s throne!. . .
But even so the promise continued to speak. For a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and His name shall be Immanuel!
Human impossibility, but divine wonder! Life out of the dead! There in the manger of Bethlehem lies the end of the generations of Abraham and David; Jesus Christ. And there is the revelation of God, the God of our salvation, Who quickeneth the dead!. . .
From Abraham to David the king; from David to the carrying away; from the carrying away to the virgin!. . .
Man perisheth! In the flesh there is no hope!
The promise continues to work, is fulfilled!
The becoming of Jesus Christ. . .
Life out of death!
Ah, thus it was with this wonderful becoming of Jesus Christ. Again and again!
Abraham begat Isaac . . .?
Begat? Yes, but not otherwise than by faith in the promise; by a faith of hope against hope; by a faith, which, it is true, did not collapse, but which nevertheless in its long waiting almost perished. For Abraham had the promise. He would see seed! And for that seed he longed with all that was in him. Strongly he desired to see the day of Christ. But from the viewpoint of the flesh it soon appeared impossible that he should ever bring forth this seed. For though he might feel himself strong according to the flesh, capable of bringing forth seed, Sarah was barren! And alas! he and his mate attempted it indeed through the flesh, and wanted to put the flesh in the service of God’s promise. And when he could not bring forth seed with Sarah, then he would see the fulfillment of the promise out of Hagar. And the flesh had success! But not with God. The plea, “oh, that Ishmael might live before thee!” found no favor with God. And it became steadily later and darker! Also Abraham’s body became dead. . .
It had become humanly impossible!
And when the promise is repeated to Abraham and Sarah, they both laugh: who now expects children in the evening of life?
And then it is fulfilled! Divine wonder! Life out of the dead!
And Isaac begat Jacob!
Yes, but also here it was through the promise! While Ishmael breaks forth in a multitude, Rebekah is barren. And when God finally hears the prayer that Isaac and Rebekah send up to Him, everything is wrong; Esau is in Jacob’s place, and Jacob’s flesh, though he almost desperately holds his brother by the heel, is not able to capture the position of the promise. . .
But in the “becoming” of Jesus Christ, Who, remember, was in Jacob’s loins, the promise is victorious! The elder serves the younger!
Human impossibility! Divine wonder!
And Jacob begat Judah! Oh, Jacob had much seed, with four wives, for he always wanted to help the promise of God along. But Rachel is barren. Reuben is guilty of scandal, Simeon and Levi are brutes, and in prophetic wonderment Jacob must at last find the seed in Judah, the fourth!
Judah! Thou art he!
And Judah? Alas, the situation becomes even more pitiful according to the flesh! He begat Phares and Zara . . . by Tamar, his own daughter-in-law! For Judah had taken a Canaanitish woman to wife. And by her he intended to bring forth the seed of the promise through the flesh. And he seems to succeed. Three sons were born to him from her. God killed the first! And when Judah had given the first son’s wife, Tamar, to the second, Onan, in order to obtain seed, the latter did even more scandalously than the first son: and God killed him too! And when Judah once again makes preparation to keep Tamar as the wife for his third son, Tamar fears that God will also kill him; and since she also desires to see the seed of the promise, she dresses herself as a harlot and seduces her own father-in-law to incest!. . .
And behold! it succeeds!
Or rather: now the promise operates! Judah begat Phares!
When Judah purposed to bring forth the seed of the promise, then God slew it in His wrath! When Judah, at his going in unto the “harlot,” certainly does not even think of the seed of the promise, he obtains it in spite of himself!
Where is now the flesh? It is put to shame!
Wonderful becoming of Jesus Christ! Life out of the dead! Also in the manger of Bethlehem! Born of a woman, yes, but without the will of man!
The things which are impossible with men are possible with God!
Who quickeneth the dead!