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A Promise Fulfilled: He's Here
04/02/2006
Scripture: Matthew 1:1-16; 2 Kings 21;22;23
Track 14 of 27 in the Transforming Story As God Gave It series
Running time: 37 minutes, 19 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

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Lacey Phillips Speaker: Lacey Phillips
Worship Minister at Madison Park Christian Church

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Sermon for Sunday, April 2, 2006
14th sermon in a 27 part series
"A Promise Fulfilled: He's Here"
The Transforming Story As God Gave It
(Matthew 1:1-16)
Copyright 2006 G. Charles Sackett

The Genealogy of Jesus

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Sometimes it's just almost impossible to imagine that God can use you. If you had asked me, when I was a kid, growing up, closing up my father's bar at night, opening it in the morning, living on the wrong side of the proverbial railroad tracks in our town, experiencing life as a member of a family full of alcoholics. If you'd told me that one day I would stand in front of a group of people and preached the Gospel, I would have laughed.

It is absolutely amazing to me, what God does in the lives of people. How He is able to take us and shape and use us in ways that we never thought possible. That somehow were just outside the realm of our imagination. Sometimes I feel like I should walk into rooms and somehow imitate what I understand to be the practice at a lot of support group meetings. "Hi, my name is Chuck. I'm a former pagan." Or, "I'm a recovering sinner." Don't you feel that way? As if all of life, is wrapped up in the fact that you can't quite get rid of whatever this little letter might identify for you. You should have picked one of these up [note: a Scrabble Tile] as you came in. I'm not about to tell you what yours stands for. The church had seven. They called them "The Seven Deadly Sins"; pride and greed and slough. I happen to just arbitrarily pick up the letter "O" out of the sack when I walked in this morning. "Outcast" "Outsider" That's certainly what I felt like, when I first started coming to church. I don't know what your letter represents in your life. What sin, what characteristic, what identifying mark it might have for you. But I suspect that every one of us has something deep down in our system that we identify with in a way that is hurtful. That is, in some way, keeping us from being what we think God might one day let us be.

I want to come to this text in Matthew 1. I chose to let you hear it because I think it is such a profound text but so hard to read. A list of names, sort of. Matthew 1:1 starts out this way. A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: A record of the genealogy, a record of the origin. It's the word "Genesis", frankly. And it's interesting that the book of Genesis in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, starts out identical to the book of Matthew. In this sense it is a list, a record of the beginning.

In the beginning, God and Matthew starts out; In the beginning, Jesus.

You notice who's introduced immediately in this list of names. David and Abraham, names that you recognize. I would call them noble names. I guess they're just names you recognize immediately and when you walk down through this list, you are struck by noble names. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Boaz, David, Solomon, Josiah. Names that are just names that you should just recognize because of who they are in God's kingdom. They are the names of God's nobility. They are the names of people that God chose to use in spectacular ways. The kinds of names, frankly, that elicit the response of "I could never be like that."

I think of contemporary people and quite honestly I have my own list of names. You'll have your list. I think, for example, Billy Graham, a noble name. Named often by Time Magazine as one of the men of the century. Maybe the most influential Christian in the last fifty or sixty years. Spoken to millions. A noble name. I think, quite honestly, one of the noble names of this part of the 20th century is going to be Rick Warren, just because of the influence of his book.

But historically, there are those names, aren't there, that surface? You can hardly think about the history of church and not have Martin Luther's name surface for you. Or Augustine, in the history of the church. But you've got your list of noble names. Names, that, when you think about them, they are the people that were most influential in your life. I can tell you the names on my list. You won't know them. Gary Yeager, Kenneth Beckman - noble names. Of all the list of names, they're the ones that stand out as people that God has somehow chosen to use.

But the interesting thing about our list, is that our list is just, not just lists of noble names, names that you'd like to expect. Come back and look at this list again. Because not only are there noble names, there are notorious names. The names of people that you would never expect to find in Genesis 1 or Matthew 1 in any list of people that God somehow chose to use. They just don't belong in the list. I'm sorry! Don't mean to be judgmental, they just don't belong here.

For example, look down at Matthew 1:7. You've got Rehoboam. We mentioned him just a week ago. He's the one who divided the kingdom between Israel and Judah because he wouldn't listen to the advice of godly leaders. If you want to keep your finger in Matthew 1 and come over to 2 Chronicles, I'm going to read just some descriptive words of some of these names. 2 Chronicles, about a third of the way through your Old Testament. Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, just before you get to Job and Psalms. 2 Chronicles 12. Here's the closing remark, or the closing lines of Rehoboam's life. 2 Chronicles 12:14. He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.

Notorious names. He did evil because he had not set his heart in the right place.

Well, you come a little further in Matthew 1 and you run into Jehoram. Jehoram is chronicled for us in 2 Chronicles 21. Another one of the multitude of kings that Israel had. 2 Chronicles 21:4 starts the story of Jehoram. 2 Chronicles 21:4. When Jehoram established himself firmly over his father's kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the princes of Israel. Let anybody come along and usurp his place in the kingship, he just killed all his brothers and anybody else that looked like they were important. A murderer!

2 Chronicles 21:6. The latter part of verse 6, He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.

And, yet, don't miss 2 Chronicles 21:7. Nevertheless, because of the covenant the Lord had made with David, the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever. Here in King Jehoram's unfaithfulness is this comment about God's faithfulness to His covenant.

Come a little further down in the story of Jehoram and you'll see 2 Chronicles 21:20, what a sad epitaph. He passed away, to no one's regret. . . . . He passed away, to no one's regret.

Well, you look a little further in Matthew 1 and you find the name of Ahaz. He's the next king mentioned in 2 Chronicles. He is in 2 Chronicles 22:4. 2 Chronicles 22 says about Ahaziah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father's death they became his advisers, to his undoing. He became just like Ahab. Ahab was the one who married Jezebel. Jezebel is the one who introduced all of the notorious sin in Israel, the Baal worship and the Asherah poles. And Ahaziah was just like Ahab.

Or 2 Kings 21:10 Manasseh. Manasseh is chronicled in 2 Kings. If you back up just a couple of books. 2 Kings 21. I look at this list of names in the lineage of Jesus and I see this notorious name Manasseh and I wonder how in the world he could be in this list. 2 Kings 21:2 Manasseh did evil in the eyes of the Lord following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.. . . . . .he built altars (2 Kings 21:5) to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 2 Kings 21:11 Manasseh has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. Manasseh closes out in 2 Kings 21:16 Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end - besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the Lord.

There are notorious names in this list. I register my surprise at the notorious people that are in the lineage of the Savior, Jesus. There are noble names. There are notorious names. There are, what I would call, notable names. By that I mean, these are the names that when you hear their story, they arrest you. They cause you to sit up and take note.

If you look at Verse 8, you have the story of Asa or in some translations Asaph. His life is chronicled in 2 Chronicles 15. 2 Chronicles 15:8 talks about Asa. When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the portico of the Lord's temple.

2 Chronicles 15:12 Asa brought them into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all of their heart and soul. 2 Chronicles 15:15 . . . . They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them.

And then maybe the stunning verse of Asa's life. 2 Chronicles 15:17. Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa's heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life.

I find such incredible comfort and encouragement in that verse. Here Asa comes along. He reverses the role of so much of what has gone before him. He does his best to lead Israel to seek after God and yet, inherent in his life is an inability to completely give everything over. There were things that never quite got resolved for him. There were issues that he never fully dealt with. And yet, listen to what God says about him.

Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa's heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life. God does not expect perfection. He expects commitment. God does not expect you to be able to deal with absolutely everything but, He expects one simple thing from you. Give me your heart. I can deal with the rest, if you'll just give me your heart. What a powerful statement of grace.

I read down through the list in Matthew 1 and I find this notable name of Josiah. 2 Kings 22:11 Josiah is identified not only as Josiah, but Josiah and his brothers because he had such powerful influence in the life of Israel at the time of the exile. Over in 2 Kings 22 you learn about king Josiah. He is a marvel in Israel's history. Believe it or not, Josiah became king when he was eight years old.

A couple of weekends ago I celebrated by grandson's birthday. He became eight and I'm thinking "ya gotta be out of your mind." King Josiah became a king at eight years old. But look at 2 Kings 22:2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

And I think about a young lady named Tricia who became a Christian when she was six years old. And when I met her she had never turned to the right or to the left. This is a young woman who had been faithful to Christ all of her life. What an incredible testimony. And I fear that people like her, who have known Jesus from the time they were little, somehow feel like they don't have a testimony because they didn't do anything. I would trade that testimony in a heartbeat for mine.

Look at king Josiah. King Josiah not only was a man who loved God from the time he was eight years old. King Josiah was a fellow, a young man of such incredible, noble courage and character. 2 Kings 22:11. When the (See, they hadn't had the law because of all of this stuff going on in Israel. They had lost the Scripture. They had lost sight of the law of God. And they found it again.) In 2 Kings 22:11. When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He responded in 2 Kings 22:13 Great is the Lord's anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written. . . . .

And as the story unfolds, you look down here in 2 Kings 22:19. Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people. . . . .. . .and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord.

Here is this young man who never turned left or right, who loved God with all of his heart and every time he discovered something in the Law of God that he needed to do, he responded appropriately with repentance and obedience even though he was never far from God.

You read a little further in 2 Kings 23:3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord - to follow the Lord and to keep his commands, regulations and degrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book.

Josiah re-established the law. He re-established the practice of keeping the Passover.

2 Kings 23:25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did - with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

Notable names. The kinds of names that make you sit up and go WOW! Noble names and, notorious names and, notable names and, quite frankly, no names.

Did you notice as that text was read, how many of those names sounded totally foreign to you? I never heard of that one before. Wonder who that was? That was a tough one to pronounce. And when you go back and try to look those names up, in the Scripture to find out anything about them, frankly, you don't find anything about them. They're just names in a list in the lineage of Jesus. They don't appear to have anything in that heritage that's worth paying attention to. And yet, somehow, they made it into the lineage of Jesus.

I used to love this experience. I used to go and I would go to churches where I would simply preach on Sunday morning because a preacher was on vacation or is off at camp, or, at a convention. And I don't know how many times this occurred to me. I would go, I would preach and people would come up to me and they would say, "Well, that was nice, but frankly, I like our preacher, better." That's not offensive. What they were saying is, "You may never know who my preacher is. My preacher will never speak at a major convention. My preacher's name will never make it on somebody's fancy list, but I want to tell you what; my preacher is MY preacher and he speaks to me every week." And the churches are full of those people. Young men and women who lead in the church in ways that God honors and uses and frankly, nobody, nobody will ever know their name. Except God!

This text, this list of names is such a profound lesson that reminds us that God can and does use anyone. Did you notice that when they were reading the names, there were five of them, I don't know if you caught them, but there were five of them: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, the wife of Uriah, (she doesn't even get her name in the list; Her name is Bathsheba.) and Mary. There are five, count them, five women in the lineage of Jesus. Never, never, in the lineage of anybody in the Old Testament is a women mentioned, but in the lineage of Jesus, five women, all five of whom have something scandalous about them, prostitute, a woman who played the prostitute, an outcast, an adulterous and a teenage girl who became pregnant out of wedlock and claimed it was by the Holy Spirit. And, right here in the lineage of Jesus they stand. Testimony to the fact that God was going to include everybody; Jew and Gentile, male and female, noble and notorious in His plan.

And, one that I heard just this week as I was listening to this text, I was so struck by this because we had just talked about, just talked about Ruth's story. We had just talked about this and I was listening to this reading of the text and it struck me as so profound. And born to Boaz by Ruth, born to Boaz by Ruth; Preceded by, born to Rahab was Boaz. Do you remember Rahab? Prostitute! Do you remember Boaz? The man of noble character. The man who took Ruth under his care. The man who was so careful to honor God with his near kinsman status. The one who is presented in the book of Ruth as a nobleman of deep character. In one generation we have gone from prostitute-to-noble. Do you hear this?

I made a decision thirty-five years ago when I became a Christian that I would not be the last person in my family to know Jesus because I was the first. To go from a family of pagans and bartenders and alcoholics to a family of Christians and I would not be the last. One generation and you can turn an entire family story. This text is about the grace of God. God can use absolutely anyone. That's one of the lessons in this text.

Let me hurry to the second lesson which is bigger than the first one.

Far greater than the first one is this second lesson. It's wrapped up in that text in 2 Chronicles 21:7 In spite of the sin God had made a covenant to keep David's lineage alive. And God will not let His covenant die no matter what.

And so you have in Matthew 1 this great fulfilment of God's promise He's been saying since Genesis 3. I will send someone who will redeem us from our sins and in Matthew 1, here He comes to the line of David and to the line of Abraham, comes One whose name was Jesus, the Christ. He's the right nation and the right lineage and it's fascinating how this text begins to unfold because Jesus is presented to us, first of all, in Matthew 1:1 as the "son of David" and, the "son of Abraham".

And then you begin to see that He is the right person for the right place, at the right time. This text is fascinating. Did you notice that it happens to be laid out in three groups of fourteen?

Matthew 1:17 will call your attention to that particular feature of Matthew's structure.

Thus 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.

Fourteen, it happens to be the Hebrew number determined by the letters in David's name. Hebrew letters stand for numbers. DVD is how we would abbreviate it and it would be fourteen. And so Matthew very creatively and carefully omits certain generations, doubles up on David's name in some places in order for him to have three groupings of fourteen, fourteen, and fourteen to call your attention to the fact that Jesus is the son of David the king.

In fact, you can't read the book of Matthew without beginning to notice how strongly he affirms this Old Testament presentation of the Gospel. Look at Matthew 1:22. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child. (Do you hear it? Fulfilled prophesy.)

Matthew 2:5. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: (Do you hear it? Fulfilled prophesy.)

Jump over to Matthew 2:15. They took him down to Egypt where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."

Matthew 2:17. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. . . .

Matthew 2:23. . . . .and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." Do you hear Matthew's emphasis? Promise. Fulfillment. Prophesy. Fulfillment.

And he's going to take that same theme of David and he's going to run through the book about Jesus. In Matthew 12, in Matthew 15, in Matthew 20 and in Matthew 28. In all those places, people are going to cry out "Is this not Jesus, son of David?"

That New Testament emphasis is going to be repeated in Acts 2 in the first sermon preached on the Day of Pentecost, the key text is going to focus on Jesus being the son of David. When Paul introduces the letter to the Romans, he says something about Jesus being the "son of David". When you get to the last thing that Paul wrote, 2 Timothy 2:8, Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel. . . . .

This whole story is to remind you that God has done what God said He would do. He has sent a King through the lineage of David in order to rule His people, Israel.

Paul says it this way in Galatians 4:4. In the fulness of time God sent forth of his Son, born of a woman, to redeem us. God has kept his promise. That is the transforming story. That is the very story that God has been trying to tell us, that God keeps his promise to us. That He will send a Son who will redeem us from our sins. And, this chapter reminds us, not only of the breadth of that story, and the size of this story, but in that story comes, this inherent promise. It doesn't matter who you are, outcast, prostitute, sinner - He came to redeem you and to use you to further His Kingdom.

We're here to celebrate that today. To celebrate God's keeping of His promise, both to bring us redemption and to make us useful. And here's how we're going to do that.

We're going to celebrate the Lord's Supper together, but we're going to invite you to do this, this way. There are stations set up in every corner. There's one here. There's one by that door over there. There are two against the back wall. There is another one over there. There's another one up here and there are two right here. And beside every one of these Communion stations you're going to find a trash can that looks similar to this. Here's what we are inviting, you to do. Take this letter and all it represents. Walk up here where you are reminded of the blood of Jesus and throw it away. Because, that's what He has done for you. He has taken your sin and He has made you clean. And then, celebrate the Supper where you're reminded of the redemption of Jesus.

Now if you are unable to move from where you are, one of our men will bring the Lord's Supper to you. Just make yourself known and we'll bring it. But we invite you while we're singing immediately to begin moving toward those stations and begin getting rid of those sins and acknowledging the freedom that you have in Jesus Christ.

I'm going to stay right here. If you have something you need to do, something you need to share, I'll be here to meet with you. I'm going to pray and we're going to begin.

Father,

Thank you for your faithfulness in sending us your Son Jesus. Thank you for redemption from every sin, every condition. And, thank you that we can be useful in your Kingdom no matter who we are or what we've done. And, thank you for your blood shed for the remission of our sins. We pray in Jesus, through Jesus, because of Jesus. We celebrate this Supper together in His name.

Amen.