When you claim to be somebody you’d better have proof. Especially when it’s someone awaited for thousands of years. Today’s readings feature two lists of names — family trees — both proving Jesus to be who He claims to be.
Matthew was a Jew writing to Jews, so his list begins with Abraham (father of the Jews) and runs through King David’s royal line. Matthew ends with Joseph, the husband of Mary, because legal lines of royal succession pass through fathers. Joseph was the legal father of Jesus. But not the biological father . . .
That’s where Luke’s genealogy kicks in. Luke was a Gentile writing to Gentiles. He traces Jesus’ physical lineage all the way back to Adam. Why does that matter? Because you can’t redeem a race you’re not part of. Jesus had to be born as a human (a physical son of Mary) to bring salvation to the human race.
So Matthew details Jesus’ legal right to the throne through Joseph, and Luke bypasses Joseph (“supposedly the father of”) to trace Mary’s lineage to Adam through David’s son Nathan. This subtle distinction matters because Solomon’s physical line of kings ended with Jehoiachin (Jeremiah 22:30). Jesus was the legal heir of Solomon’s throne, but a physical descendant of David through Nathan. He has the legal right to reign through Joseph and the physical right through Mary. How’s that for miraculous?
Here are two more interesting features of these lists. Matthew, a tax collector, had relational ties to people of all nations. So he begins with Abraham, in whom all nations will be blessed, and ends with the Great Commission, through which all nations will be reached. Matthew also highlights five women, each unique in how they’re related. Can you find them, and do you know why each is unique?
Action: Acknowledge aloud to God that Jesus is not a random Jew — He is the exact and only person qualified to serve as King and Redeemer. Say it to Him as best you can in your own words.