Son of David
Since the dawn of time, experts say that over 50 billion people have walked on planet earth. Of those billions of people, only a handful have made any real, lasting impression. In that handful of people, one stands far above all of the others. His name is Jesus.
Jesus never wrote a book, and yet millions of books have been written about him. Jesus never painted a picture, and yet the world’s greatest artists have had Jesus as their source of inspiration. Jesus never traveled very far from his birthplace, and yet his testimony has gone all around the whole world. Jesus only had a handful of followers, and yet today a third of the world’s population follow Him.
To know Jesus, to love Jesus, to believe and trust in Jesus is the greatest aim we can have in this life. And not only for this life but also for the life to come – for it has both temporal and eternal consequences. So the most important question we can ever ask is this – Who is Jesus? Who is this King of Glory?
That’s the name of our series for Advent and Christmas this year. It’s something that the Gospel writers really want us to know! It’s what the genealogies in Matthew and Luke are all about – they are there so that we can know who Jesus is.
So today we begin with this truth – Jesus is the Son of David. “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David. There were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ. Matthew summarizes biblical history in three sets of fourteens – or six sevens. Now, if you know anything about Hebrew, you know that a story can’t end with six sevens. That’s not a complete story. There must be a final scene – you need a seventh seven. This is a story that lacks an ending. And actually, that’s the whole point.
What we discover in the Gospels is that Jesus is the One who will usher in the final act in God’s plan of salvation. He is the One who brings our story to completion as well. How so? His names complete everything that is lacking in us. This Advent season we will be taking a look at 7 of those names of Jesus – Son of David, Son of Solomon, Son of Abraham, Son of Israel, Son of Man, Son of Mary, and Son of God. Jesus is our Seventh Seven!
So Jesus is the Son of David. We know David was a king – so that makes Jesus a King as well. When we confess that Jesus is the King we dare not confuse him with today’s presidents or politicians. Politicians make big, brash, bold promises that they may or may not intend to keep. We’re used to leaders who say what the public wants to hear. No one’s campaign slogan is, “Slow, arduous change” or “Realistic compromise.” No – we want leaders who promise us the moon – at least a colony on the moon!
But when we look at Jesus, we see a completely different kind of leader – a different kind of king. Jesus is the promised King of Israel. “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ”. When we hear the term “Jesus Christ,” we sometimes misunderstand it. “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name – it is a title. Christos is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word, Mesheach, or Messiah, which means “anointed one.” Jesus is the Messiah.
The Old Testament foretells of a coming Messiah – a King who would be anointed with the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s mission. The Messiah would come from the line of David. He’d be born in David’s city and sit on David’s throne. He would be the Son of David.
The Gospel writers seek to demonstrate that Jesus is this coming king – the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of David. When the gospels were written, Israel had been without a legitimate king for hundreds of years. But when Jesus enters the royal city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the crowd cries out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Jesus is, indeed, the promised King of Israel. He is also a tender and compassionate King, like David, a shepherd King. Jesus doesn’t come to drive out Israel’s enemies – He comes to bring in the outcasts and outsiders. In the ancient world, people traced their ancestry through the father. It comes as no surprise, then, that genealogies are predominantly male. But they aren’t exclusively male. Did you ever notice that Matthew also mentions four women? There’s Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.
Surprisingly the genealogy doesn’t highlight any of Israel’s matriarchs – Sarah, Rebekah, or Rachel. All four women in Matthew’s genealogy are outsiders to Israel. Tamar was a Canaanite. So was Rahab. Ruth was a Moabite. And Bathsheba was a Hittite like her husband – Uriah the Hittite. Each of these women were outsiders to Israel. Moreover, each of these women had a stigma attached to her. Tamar was dishonored by her brother-in-law. Later, she deceived her father-in-law into sleeping with her so she could conceive children. Rahab was a prostitute. Bathsheba committed adultery with King David. Ruth once worshiped the false god Chemosh. These are the bad girls of the Bible! But they are included in the genealogy.
Most of the Jews expected a Messiah who would come and drive out the Roman oppressors and crush the nations to establish God’s rule. But at his first coming, Jesus doesn’t come to judge the nations. He comes to save the nations. “Savior of the Nations Come” – we sing in the Advent hymn. Jesus brings outcasts home to God, and he removes the shame of marginalized people like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. This is a preview to the rest of the Gospels. For who is it that Jesus spends much of His time with? Outcasts. Outsiders. The diseased, the disheartened, and the disenfranchised – the kind of people who were quarantined from the rest of society.
Jesus comes close to them and He touches them. People with physical problems or people with deep emotional wounds in their lives. Jesus welcomes and heals all these people, and takes away all of their shame and guilt and pain.
Finally that includes all of us. The ugly shame. The haunting guilt. Jesus not only takes away our guilt – the sin that’s done by us. Jesus also takes away the shame – the sin that’s done to us. We don’t have to work our shame away, eat our shame away, drink our shame away, explain our shame away, cry our shame away, or bury our shame away. Jesus isn’t a King who sits on his throne and only to say – “Come on – get it together – try harder.” No, Jesus is a King who descends from his throne to come and help us in our time of need. He is a King that is filled with love and mercy and compassion. Jesus identifies with us in the pit of our shame and guilt. At our deepest and darkest point – when we feel the ugliest and most despairing – Jesus says, “I love you, I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
What other people have said and thought and did to us does not define us. We don’t have to live in shame and guilt anymore. We aren’t worthless. We aren’t damaged goods. We are clean and pure and whole. Why? Because we are his. Because we have been covered by the holy precious blood of Christ – who lived and died and rose again for us – so we could be His forever.
Jesus comes for those who have been rejected because He too was rejected. To the Jewish elites of his day, Jesus was the wrong kind of Messiah. He lived in the wrong place, associated with the wrong people, preached the wrong message, appointed the wrong leaders, and carried out the wrong kind of mission.
The whole thing came to a head on Good Friday of Holy Week. Matthew writes, “Above His head they placed the written charge against Him: KING OF THE JEWS”. They spit on Him and mocked Him, saying, Hail King of the Jews! But three days later Jesus had the last laugh as He rose again from the dead, and 40 days later just before His ascension He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
That’s what we would expect of a King – to have all authority. And as our King, Jesus does indeed make demands of us. But before Jesus makes demands of us, first Jesus comes to deliver us and to save us. Jesus lives for us, dies for us, rises for us, and rules over us. Jesus gives everything for us. That’s a king that’s worth following for life!
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Amen.