Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, though based on history, is not about history. Its purpose is strictly theological. The genealogy is the entire first chapter, not just the first seventeen verses. The first seventeen verses provide the context and explanation to Jesus’ origins as described in the remainder of the chapter.
Jesus’ genealogy shows three things:
- The relationships between justice, mercy, and law. God’s justice is his mercy, not his wrath. Wrath is the catalyst for mercy. (I.e., there are two choices when faced with wrath: to give out what is deserved, or to respond in mercy. God chose the latter.) God’s mercy transcends the processes and demands of the law.
- Faithfulness is the undivided pursuit of justice (aka, mercy). The human individuals commended in the genealogy exhibit this kind of faithfulness. This foreshadows the life of Jesus and through it the portrait of God he paints for us. (Faith/Faithfulness is not belief in God.)
- There are two types of community: one is based upon blood lineage, the other is based on mercy and faithfulness. Jesus chose to be grafted, through law, into the human lineage. By doing so, he opened the way for all humankind to be grafted into the community of faith, through his (Jesus’) mercy and faithfulness.