The History of Grace – Gospel in Life

The History of Grace

Tim Keller |  December 14, 2008

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  • Doctrine
  • Christmas and Advent
  • Jesus' Birth
Matthew 1:1-17
RS 311-1


Matthew doesn’t begin his Gospel with “once upon a time.” Instead, he records a genealogy. This is Matthew’s way of saying that the events of his Gospel narrative are real historical events, not mythical fictions. It is fascinating to see which specific individuals Matthew includes in his genealogy. In ancient times, one’s genealogy was similar to one’s resume; you only included the good stuff. But Jesus’ genealogy includes prostitutes, murderers, despised foreigners and the offspring of incestuous sexual relations. In short, even the “begats” are dripping with grace.

Understanding Matthew 1:1–17

Matthew 1 shares the family tree of Jesus Christ, which is a vital part of the Christmas story. It covers a big part of Bible history and gives us important insights into the overall story of the Bible. Four main ideas come out: the gospel as good news, not advice; the truth of the greatest stories; how Jesus challenges what the world holds important; and the ultimate peace we find in Christ. These different ideas come together to deepen our understanding of the Bible’s central message.

1. The gospel isn’t just good advice; it’s good news

The story of Jesus’ birth in Matthew is a real historical event, not just a made-up story. The gospel tells us about things that have already happened, not tips on how to live. Being a Christian is about believing in the story of Jesus coming to earth, his suffering, his death, and his coming back to life – not about trying to be a better person or finding motivation.

2. The best stories are actually true

The family tree in the Christmas story shows us deep human desires like wanting to live forever, longing for something beyond our world, and overcoming evil. People often think these desires are unrealistic, but they’re fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus isn’t just a character in a story, but a real person who brings hope and salvation into our world.

3. Jesus Christ flips our world’s values on their head

The family tree of Jesus is special because it includes women, non-Jews, and people who’ve done wrong. It shows that everyone can experience God’s grace, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. This goes against the world’s ideas about the importance of family background, money, race, and social status. In Jesus’ church, these things don’t really matter – everyone is equal.

4. Jesus Christ is the ultimate peace

Matthew’s family tree of Jesus shows 14 generations from Abraham to David, David to when the Jews were exiled, and from the exile to Jesus. The number 14, which is two sevens, makes us think of Jesus as the ultimate ‘seventh seven’, a symbol of peace and freedom. This means that because of Jesus stepping into our history to save us, we can stop trying so hard to prove ourselves and control our lives. Instead, we can find peace in the promise of a future where everything wrong is made right.



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