June 7, 2010 David Balzer

Matthew 1:1-17: In the family business

When you’ve got a few spare moments, and you’re connected to the internet. Try a “Google vanity search”. Here’s how it works. You go to “Google”, or another search engine. And you type in your name – David Balzer. And you see what it finds.

For me, Google came up with 16,200 hits in 0.19 s.

David Balzer is the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine as well as the Director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Here I am. (show O/h picture)

David Balzer is also the Associate Director of the Family Life Movement in Winnipeg, Canada. Here I am again. In fact, it even looks a bit like me. (must be a goatee thing)

David Balzer is ALSO a mechanic working in Houston Texas. He’s certified by the State of Texas to perform State Safety and Advanced Emission Testing on all automobiles and light duty trucks. He is one of the best (if not the best) general service technicians in the Houston area. Through dedication, study and hard work David’s tire, suspension and alignment skills make him one of the top talents in the industry.

Here’s a picture of me at work.

David Balzer was ALSO born in 1877, in the village of Schardau, Molotschna Colony, south Russia.  In 1903, he moved to the Terek Colony, where he served as an ordained member in the Kirchliche Mennonite church. During the First World War he worked for the International Red Cross.  In 1918, he was killed by a soldier as he worked transporting wounded soldiers.  He left one wife, Maria, and eight children after he died.  His wife married his brother, Daniel Balzer, who became step father for eight children.  She died after five years of marriage from diabetes.

I have no idea if ANY of these David Balzers are related to me. They might be DISTANT relatives. But it’s unlikely.

But it IS very interesting. Some people spend ages working out their family tree. Who married who. And who gave birth to who. Trying to find out if there’s anyone famous back there.

Or perhaps INFAMOUS. Sometimes people find out that they’re descended from a first-fleet convict, or a notorious bank-robber, or a politician. And they decide they’ve suddenly lost interest in family trees.

Gary Boyce did some work on his family tree a while back and found out there’s one FIRST FLEET CONVICT, and at least three SECOND Fleeters. Something he’s quite proud of! Although his grandmother was MORTIFIED.

But what about Jesus? What do we know about HIS family tree? And does it really make any DIFFERENCE? Is it relevant? Why does Matthew go to the trouble of spelling it out for us? A great big long list of names. It’s hardly the start that’s going to grab peoples’ attention. And make them want to read more.

If WE were writing a gospel, we might want to emphasise that Jesus was GOD’s son. We’d describe his HEAVENLY origins. That’s the way John’s Gospel starts. (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God) But Matthew goes to great trouble to tell us about his EARTHLY origins.

So let’s spend some time looking at his list. And try and work out what he might be trying to tell us.

1. Son of David

And one of the first things we see about Jesus. Was that he was descended from King David. He was a Son of David. It’s there in v1.

(Mat 1:1 NIV)  A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

And then, starting with Abraham, we see all the generations. If you count them off, from Abraham to King David, there are 14. With David the 14th.

And then from King David to Jeconiah and the exile to Babylon. It’s ANOTHER 14. If David’s the first, then Josiah’s the 14th.

And then we’ve got a THIRD set of 14. From the exile to Jesus. If Josiah’s number one, then Jesus is 14th.

Which is all about God’s perfect control of history. Four of the great events in Israel’s history. Each separated by 14 generations. Abraham –God chose him to be the Father of Israel.

David – the greatest human king. And the high point in Israel’s history.

Third, the RETURN from exile – Back in the land. One more chance to get things right. But that didn’t last too long. Things were just as bad as before.

Until we got to event number 4. The greatest of all. GOD HIMSELF stepped into history. God the Father sent God the Son to rescue his people.

And Matthew’s point is that Jesus has the perfect HUMAN credentials to rescue his people. Because he’s a SON OF DAVID.

Back in 2 Sam 7, God promised King David that one of his descendants would always rule over Israel. And so that’s who the Jews were looking for. A Davidic King. Someone who’d bring back THE GLORY DAYS.

But because the Greeks had taken over. And then the Romans after them. Things didn’t LOOK like Israel would have it’s own king for a while. And people were hanging out for God to deliver on His promise.

Listen to how the prophet Isaiah described him. From Is 9. Written 500 years before Jesus was born.

(Isa 9:6-7 NIV)  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. {7} Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. HE WILL REIGN ON DAVID’S THRONE and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and FOREVER. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

How good does THAT sound?! NO WONDER people were hanging out for God to deliver on his promise.

(pause) Like the people in Ch 12 of Matthew. Jesus had just healed a blind man. And listen to everyone’s reaction in v23.

(Mat 12:23 NIV)  All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

And there’s some MORE blind men back in Ch 9. Their world permanently in darkness. But when they hear that Jesus is coming, they call out, “Have mercy on us, SON OF DAVID!”

And he DOES have mercy. God has sent his promised one. And he shines light into their darkness.

Or the Canaanite woman in Ch 15. V22. Her family life is worse than we could imagine. Longing for some relief.

(Mat 15:22 NIV)  “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

She was hanging out for God’s promised one to release the captives. And he DOES. And the d ’s set free.

Or a few chapters on. Ch 21. Jesus has just entered Jerusalem. The CITY of King David. And the crowds know what to do.

(Mat 21:9 NIV)  The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to THE SON OF DAVID!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!”

Everyone hanging out for David’s Son. Who’ll be the new king. That’s who they’re looking for. And it’s time to CELEBRATE.

And Matthew’s point, right here in Ch 1, is that now, 14 generations after the return from exile, in God’s PERFECT time, the Son of David comes!

How desperate are YOU for God’s King? David’s Son? What does it mean to YOU that Christmas is nearly here? Is this GREAT NEWS? Or mildly interesting news?

Are you the blind man LONGING to see? The demon-possessed ACHING to be set-free? The crowd almost BURSTING to see the victory of God’s kingdom?

Perhaps you’re at the point of hopelessness. Because you’re life is a complete mess. You’ve tried everything YOU can think of. And you’re desperate.

(pause) Or are you “Doing okay, thank you very much”. “Nothing exciting to see here. Move along. No problems. Coping fine. Life’s just peachy.”

At least, that’s what you’re TELLING everyone.

This is GREAT NEWS for people who recognise that things AREN’T going so well. That they NEED God to step into their world. And make a difference. Is that you?

It’s GREAT news because God WILL! That’s what God promised in that Isaiah reading. To be IMMANUEL. GOD WITH US.

God WILL step into your world TODAY. I know it! Because he stepped into THEIR WORLD THEN.

2. Son of Abraham:

Because Jesus isn’t just a Son of David. He’s a son of Abraham. It’s there in v1.

Which is why I’m so SURE this is good news for US TOO. And not just ISRAEL. He came for Aussies and Americans. And Scottish. He even came for THE IRISH.

Now it doesn’t really sound like there’s much to hope for it ON THE SURFACE. After all – Abraham was the father of Israel.

But one of the promises God made to Abraham. Wasn’t only that he’d be the Father of a nation. But that THROUGH HIS OFFSPRING, the WHOLE WORLD would be blessed. That’s in Gen 22. In other words, through a SON OF ABRAHAM, every nation would be blessed. And that son was Jesus.

And that’s good news for us Aussies and Americans and Scottish. Even for us Irish. Because everything God promised to his people Israel. Is available to US, TOO!

Listen to Gal 3:14

(Gal 3:14 NIV)  Jesus redeemed us in order that THE BLESSING GIVEN TO ABRAHAM might come to THE GENTILES/  through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Because God’s promises were always MUCH bigger than just ISRAEL. Because he’s the God of the whole WORLD. And he wants people from EVERY nation to sing his praises.

3. Son of Gentile Women

How can I be so sure Matthew’s got US in mind as he writes? Those of us who AREN’T JEWS? (This is the third point in the outline.)

Because if you look through his list, there are some names that stand out like a sore thumb. There are five women on his list. And Matthew’s gone against every convention to put them in there. Most lists like this NEVER included ANY women.

But what’s even more remarkable is the TYPE of women he’s included. The first four / are all Gentiles. And three of the four are either s or adulteresses. These women are skeletons in the closet of Jesus’ background.

First up there’s Tamar. She’s named in v3. And you’ll find her story in Gen 38. Tamar was a Canaanite woman who married one of Judah’s sons. And later, she pretended to be a and seduced her father-in-law, Judah, became pregnant to him and had twins! One of THOSE sons became the ancestor of King David and subsequently of Jesus!

Next up there’s Rahab. She’s in v5. And you’ll find her story in Joshua 2. She was ALSO a Canaanite woman who lived with her children in Jericho. And she WAS a .

She hid two of Joshua’s spies and saved their lives. They told her to tie a scarlet cloth from her window so Joshua’s army would know to spare her family. And Matthew tells us that one of Rahab’s children was Boaz.

And it just so happens that Boaz marries ANOTHER Gentile. Her name was Ruth. And she was from Moab. And SHE gets a mention in Matthew’s list TOO. And while there’s no real skeletons in Ruth’s cupboard. In fact, she’s painted as one of the most VIRTUOUS women in the Bible. She WAS from Moab. And Deut 23 tells us that noone from Moab was allowed into the temple – even to the tenth generation.

That’s the third woman in Matthew’s list. An outcast. And she’s the Great Grandma of King David.

And the fourth woman is there in v6. And she’s not even named. She’s Solomon’s mum. And Uriah’s wife. And King David had an affair with her. You’ll find her story in 2 Sam 11.

She’s Bathsheba. And since she was married to Uriah the Hittite, it’s likely that she was a Gentile, too.

And on top of that, she was an adulteress. A GENTILE adulteress.

But her son was Solomon who God blessed greatly. And who built the temple.

And she was ALSO another ancestor of Jesus.

I found a poem about these women. Let me read it to you. : (“TAMAR” by G.M.Goulder.)

“Exceedingly odd is the means by which God

Has provided our path to the heavenly shore:

Of the s from whose line

The true light was to shine

There was one an adulteress,

And one was a .”

“And Rahab the harlot her sins were as scarlet

As the thread which she hung from the door

Yet alone of her nation

She came to Salvation

And lived to be mother of Boaz, of yore.”

“And Boaz married Ruth, a gentile uncouth

In a manner quite counter to Biblical lore!”

“And from there did spring Blessed David the King

Who walked on his palace one evening, and saw

the wife of Uriah from whom he did sire,

a baby that died – Oh! And princes a score!”

Four women. All ancestors of Jesus. All with dodgy backgrounds. Either moral failures. Or born in the wrong place.

And Jesus came from people like THAT.

What’s the point?

Matthew’s message, I think, is that Jesus has come for ALL SORTS. Everyone. His rescue mission isn’t just for the GOOD, the Rich, the well-born, or well-connected.

And that’s good news for those blind men who were hanging out for the Son of David. And it’s good news for the little possessed by the demon, who couldn’t wait to be made clean.

And it’s good news for those of US with skeletons in our closets. Secrets we’d anyone else to find out about. A shameful past. Sins that are controlling us NOW. Habits that you can’t shake off.

NOONE is beyond the reach of the Son of David. He’s come to save and to heal and to clean.

Noone is too far away for the Son of Abraham. He’s come to be a blessing to ALL nations. And that’s GOT to include YOU!

4. Son of God

But there’s one final woman. Did you notice her? She’s down there right at the end. It’s Mary. Look at verse 16.

(Mat 1:16 NIV)  and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Notice how carefully Matthew describes this tricky relationship? Jacob WASN’T the father of Jesus. He was married to MARY. Who was the mother of Jesus.

And that’s because the facts of the case are almost beyond description. That God caused a young , Mary, who was a virgin, to be with child. A union between God and man.

This Jesus. This Son of David. Son of Abraham, Son of Gentile women. Was also. In some way that we’ll understand as we keep reading through Matthew’s story. Was also the Son of God. The same essence and being as the Father. Whose home was heaven. But he came to visit us.

There were OTHER Sons of DAVID. THOUSANDS of other Sons of ABRAHAM. MILLIONS of other sons of Gentile women.

But only ONE Son of God. One perfect life. One perfect sacrifice. One way back to the Father.

And he came according to God’s perfect schedule. Fully man. Complete with dodgy ancestors.

But also fully God. Born without a human father. The only one who could be a blessing to all nations.

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