Matthew’s Genealogy: All’s Well That Ends Well

Devotional Archive

Day 22 - December 18, 2022

Matthew’s Genealogy: All’s Well That Ends Well

I read countless term papers while teaching at Ottawa University. What I learned early on was that the introduction alerted me to whether the paper was of good quality or not. My thought was: “If students couldn’t clearly state what it is they were going to write about, then the remainder of the paper would be characterized by vagueness and lack of order.” Thankfully, Matthew’s genealogy is of “A” quality.

At first the opening words of Matthew’s genealogy were sweet music to the ears of his recipients. He was describing the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, the One bringing to fulfilment all the promises of God to Israel (2 Corinthians 1:20). But a close reading of the entire genealogy conveyed the thought that the Messiah’s coming was not as expected, thus planting in the mind of the recipients of Matthew’s Gospel (and in our minds also) that believing in Jesus is an adventure waiting to happen.

God’s goal in sending Jesus was to bring salvation to all who would believe: First to the Jew, then to the Gentile; to those of either gender; to those who were well known and those who were unknown. All of these make up the body of Christ: “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”’ (Revelation 7:9).

Each name in the genealogy was a person known to God and used by Him. But for the most part we know little to nothing about that person. But does obscurity lessen their importance? This thought was the main motivation of a book I wrote earlier this year. The book, Well Done, proposes that our work for God is more about our devotion to Him than what we do and how many people notice our work for Christ. Society uses the wrong metrics to evaluate someone’s worth and Christianity, for the most part, uses the same standards. These wrong assessments are prestige, influence, accolades, recognition, and meeting numerical criterion (e.g., souls saved, those we are discipling, etc.). Such standards can easily distort our understanding of success, which in God’s eyes is obedience no matter who we are or what we do.

By most accounts Jesus was anything but successful. And He didn’t make it easy for Himself by demanding that His followers take up their cross as a prerequisite for discipleship and in the long run lose their lives (Matthew 16:24-26). He made it clear that the way for the disciple is narrow, and few find it (7:13-14). His true followers then and now are in the minority. If the metrics mentioned above were used to evaluate Jesus’ time on earth, He would have come up far short of a successful Messiah.

But He was an astounding success in that He obeyed God and created a new community for Him. He built the church (16:18) and promised He would welcome those who were faithful with the words “Well Done” when their time on earth was completed (25:21).

Most of us will appear as unimportant to the world, and if we are not careful, to ourselves as we question our importance to God. Like many in the genealogy we go about our daily lives fulfilling our ministry to those in our home, our church, our neighborhood, and our vocation. We serve others, often unnoticed by the world. Our Lord customizes what we are to do. Discipleship comes in all shapes and sizes and the final appraisal of our work is simply have we “faithfully discharged our responsibilities as disciples, whether they have been small or great. It is the master who allocates the scale of responsibility; the slave’s duty is merely to carry out faithfully the role entrusted to him” (R. T. France). This is what makes us successful and assures we fit into the overall plan of God, as did the people listed in Matthew’s genealogy.

by Dr. Rich Menninger

Dear Lord, thank you for showing us how valuable we are to you, a truth made clear with the assuring words that the One who was born the Messiah was none other than You (1:23), promising a Presence that will continue for eternity (28.20), amen.

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