Matthew, as he begins his gospel, immediately drops some very impressive names. He does it quite deliberately because he wants to impress his Jewish audience, not with WHO he knows, but with the significance of WHAT he knows.
“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1) is how the book begins.
You see, Matthew had discovered that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah, the Redeemer sent from God to restore His people to Himself. Now his task is to try to convince his Jewish kinsman of that truth.
To the knowledgeable Jew, the promised Messiah would come from the kingly line of David. Just as importantly, religious Jews knew that the Messiah was the fulfillment of a promise made to the patriarch of all Jews, Abraham. In Genesis 12, God had told Abraham this: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make you great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (12:2, 3). This last phrase is a prophecy that concerns the coming Saviour through whom the world would be blessed.
Matthew’s introduction to the life and acts of Jesus Christ begins with tracing the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham. He hoped that this background information would go a long way toward convincing other Jews that Christ was indeed the promised Messiah. So he “dropped” the big names right from the beginning. Much of the rest of the list is unimpressive, though there are some interesting highlights along the way (Matthew 1:2-17).
I have occasionally mentioned to people that I went to school with D. A. Carson. And I confess that I did so quite deliberately and with the intention of impressing. Oddly enough I don’t “drop” the name of “Jesus” as readily into a conversation, and He is much more important to my lineage than Don Carson is, as wonderful as it has been to have known Don in my past.
I am a child of God because of Jesus. I am forgiven because of Jesus. I am a new, and improving, person because of Jesus. I have an eternal home in heaven because of Jesus. Don didn’t do any of those things for me.
As this new year of 2013 begins, it is my prayer that I become a better “name-dropper.” My prayer is that the name of Jesus will be on my lips a whole lot more than it was in 2012. It is through the Name of Jesus that all peoples on earth will indeed be blessed.