The Family Tree

December 3, 2023 ()

Bible Text: Matthew 1:1-17 |


The Family Tree | Matthew 1:1-17
Brian Hedges | December 3, 2023

Good morning! It’s so great to worship with you this morning.

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles to Matthew 1. We’re going to be reading in a moment Matthew 1:1-17.

A few years ago I received in the mail a compilation of history about the Hedges family in the United States of America. This was from a very distant relative, probably a fifth or sixth cousin, somebody I’ve never met who lives in another state, but someone who had done a lot of work on the Hedges family tree. It included my family and aunts and uncles there and great-aunts and uncles, and my grandparents, really tracing our family heritage all the way back to the first immigrants to the United States from England. It was interesting to read through that and realize the depth of that history and much of the story that I didn’t even know.

I think many people today begin to explore something about their family background. Maybe some of you have visited that site,, where you can actually do a lot of research and you can kind of figure out where you came from.

This morning, believe it or not, we’re going to be looking at a family tree. We’re going to be looking at the family tree of Jesus, the genealogy of Jesus that is recorded in Matthew 1. You might wonder, “Is there really any benefit in a whole sermon on a list of names?” I hope to persuade you by the end that there is.

Today is actually the beginning of a new series. We’re calling this series “Matthew: The Advent of the King,” and we’re going to be looking at the first several chapters of Matthew’s Gospel in the coming weeks. We’re going to be looking at the birth and infancy narratives leading up to Christmas and then the very earliest years of Jesus’ ministry in the month of January, and then we’ll return to Hebrews in February.

This is really the beginning of a multi-part series, as we’re going to journey through the Gospel of Matthew over the coming years, just taking a section of this Gospel at a time, beginning with this section on the Advent or the coming of Jesus Christ. Today we’re looking at the family tree of Jesus in Matthew 1. We’re going to be reading Matthew 1:1-17. Hear God’s word.

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

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

“And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

“And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”

This is God’s word.

“You have to be kidding me! Are we actually going to do a whole sermon on a genealogy?” Yes, we are, and let me tell you why.

It is our conviction at Redeemer Church that the gospel is communicated in all of Scripture, and that is true even in a passage such as this. I think that when we dig deep into this genealogy, this long list of names, we see the good news of God’s grace and God’s mercy in Christ, and we can see it in three ways. Here’s the outline. I want you to see:

1. God’s Covenants with Two Men
2. God’s Compassion on Four Outcasts
3. God’s Faithfulness through Three Eras

1. God’s Covenants with Two Men

Read again verse 1: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

It may not seem like an exciting beginning to this book for you, but for Matthew, or Levi, a Jewish follower of Jesus, one of the first of Jesus’ disciples, one who became an apostle, Matthew’s concern was to present Jesus Christ as the Messiah. He wants to persuade his readers that Jesus really was the Christ.

Matthew, in many ways, is the most systematic of all the Gospels. Matthew, in many ways, is the most Jewish of all the Gospels. It is the Gospel where Matthew over and over again shows how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. The Old Testament was a story in search of an ending, and Jesus Christ is the great finale to God’s saving purposes.

That’s really clear right here in this first verse, as Matthew begins by linking Jesus Christ to these two central characters in the Old Testament, David and Abraham. You may remember that God in the Old Testament made a series of promises. We call these promises his covenants, and probably the two most important of those covenants are the covenant with Abraham and the covenant with David.

(1) First of all, the covenant with Abraham. We call it the Abrahamic covenant. It was essentially God’s promise to give Abraham descendants, to give him offspring. God said that through these offspring God would bless all the nations, the families, of the earth. You have it in Genesis 12:1-3, and then it’s reaffirmed many other times—Genesis 13, 15, 17, and 22. Let me just read that initial instance in Genesis 12.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”

Of course, the initial fulfillment of this promise was the gift of a son in old age, the son Isaac. It was a miraculous, supernatural birth. But Isaac pointed to someone much greater than Isaac, to an ultimate offspring of Abraham, a son of Abraham who would come, and through whom this promise that all the families, all the nations, of the earth would be blessed would be fulfilled. We know very clearly from the New Testament that Jesus is the fulfillment of that covenant promise. Jesus is the offspring of Abraham.

In fact, if you read Galatians 3 you’ll see really clearly in the language of the apostle Paul that Jesus was the offspring of Abraham, and not only that, but all of us who believe in Jesus, even if we’re not Jewish, even if we cannot trace our birth through the Israelite family, even if we are Gentiles, if we believe in Jesus Christ we also are the offspring of Abraham. We’re also included in that family, and so the nations, the Gentiles of the earth, are blessed through him. So you have the Abrahamic covenant.

(2) You also have the Davidic covenant. This was the promise that God made to David, the greatest of Israel’s kings. God promised David that he would give him a son who would sit on the throne and reign over his people forever.

You may remember this from 2 Samuel 7. David had an ambition. His ambition was to build a house for God, to build a temple for God. The Lord communicates a message to David, and he essentially says, “David, you’re not going to build me a house, I’m going to build you a house. You’re not going to build a temple, but I’m going to give you a dynasty.” There’s kind of a play on the word “house.”

At the center point of that promise in 2 Samuel 7 we read these words in verses 12-13. The Lord says,

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”

Of course, that promise was immediately fulfilled in Solomon, the son of David who became the next king and who built the temple in Jerusalem. But Solomon didn’t sit on the throne of David forever. In fact, by the time you get to the Babylonian exile there are no more Davidic kings sitting on the throne. So this is a promise that is waiting to be fulfilled.

So Jews by the time of Jesus were hoping for the Messiah, and one of the names for the Messiah was Son of David. There are ten times in Matthew’s Gospel that this phrase “the Son of David” is used. At least nine of those ten are clearly Messianic.

In Matthew 9 there are two blind men who are asking Jesus to heal them, and they cry out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” They clearly recognize him as a Messianic figure.

When Jesus makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem in the week of Passover in Matthew 21, do you remember what the people say? They say, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” They were seeing him as the Messiah.

Even the Pharisees recognized this as a Messianic title. In Matthew 22 Jesus asks them this question: “What do you think about the Christ, the Messiah? Whose son is he?” Their answer is, “The Son of David.”

And right here, at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, he is presenting to us that Jesus is the Son of Abraham, the Son of David. He’s showing us God’s grace that was communicated through these two covenant promises that were made with Abraham and with David.

I love these words from Frederick Dale Bruner in his wonderful commentary on Matthew’s Gospel. He says,

“The two great baskets of promise in the Hebrew Scriptures are the promise to David of a son who would be a king forever and the promise to Abraham of a seed who would be a blessing for everyone—a promise meeting Israel’s longing for an eternal David and a promise meeting the Gentiles’ yearning for a universal savior. ‘Son of David’ says, ‘Israel, here is your Messiah’; ‘Son of Abraham’ says, ‘Nations, here is your hope.’”

Isn’t this what we sing in some of our Advent hymns?

“Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.”

This is Jesus, this is the Messiah! But he’s not just the Messiah of Israel, he is the one through whom all the nations of the earth are blessed.

The richness of this single point, brothers and sisters, should be breathtaking to us. We could sum it up like this: God is faithful to all of his promises, and he keeps them in Christ.

Do you remember how Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1 that all the promises of God are yes and amen in Jesus Christ? Therefore we glorify God for that.

I don’t know where you are this morning, what promise of God you may be hanging onto, but you can be sure that if God has promised it he will be faithful to keep his promise. God’s promises are sure.

(3) Before we move on, there’s one more thing we need to see under this point, and that’s the first couple of words of verse 1. It says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,” but in Greek those first two words are biblos geneseos, or “the book of genesis.” This is literally a book of beginnings. It is a new genesis. It is a new creation.

It leads Bruner to say, “To Matthew’s mind, the deepest beginning in history was not the birth of the world but the birth of the world’s Savior.” And in Jesus Christ, who brings the kingdom of God to earth; in Jesus Christ, who brings the new covenant and fulfills all the covenant promises of the Old Testament, we also have the beginning, the dawn of a new creation, where Jesus comes and makes all things new.

Brothers and sisters, this morning if you are in Christ you also are a new creation. You are a part of this new creation, you are a recipient of this new covenant, and you are a citizen of this new kingdom, all of which has come through Jesus, who is the Messiah, who is the King, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

So we see God’s grace in his covenants with these two men.

2. God’s Compassion on Four Outcasts

Secondly, we see God’s grace in his compassion on four outcasts. I don’t know if you noticed it as we read through this genealogical record, but there are several surprising names, especially in Matthew 1:3-6. They are names that you might think Matthew would have wanted to sweep under the rug, to cover these parts of the story up. When people are looking at their family history, sometimes the last thing they want to do is bring out the skeletons from the closet.

There’s a story that I read many years ago about an American family who wanted to trace their story, they wanted to know their family tree. They wanted to know about their ancestors. So they hired a genealogist to do the research. But unfortunately the research that he turned up had some pretty bad news. There were some pretty bad characters.

There was one in particular—we’ll call him Uncle Zach—a man who had been convicted of murder, held on death row, and in the end was executed through the electric chair.

This family was a very upper-crust family. They cared about having a respectable reputation in their community, so they asked the genealogist to tweak this entry to conceal the truth of Uncle Zach. This is what he came up with:

“Uncle Zach worked for the Department of Justice for a number of years, after which he was given a chair in applied electronics at a well-known government institution. He became quite attached to it, held there by very strong ties, until eventually he died. His death came as quite a shock.”

I don’t know if that’s a true story or not, but Matthew doesn’t do anything like this. He doesn’t hide the truth of who Jesus’ ancestors were. Instead, he goes out of his way to include them.

There are four individuals in particular, four outcasts that we should notice. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah, Bathsheba. Do you remember their stories?

(1) Tamar was a woman who was married to a son of Judah, one of the patriarchs of Israel. That first son was wicked, so God put him to death. She married the second son, according to the laws of levirate marriage. That son also was put to death by the Lord. So, according to those laws of levirate marriage common in that culture, Tamar was waiting for the next son to come of age. And Judah promised that she would be given this son as a husband so as to raise up offspring.

Judah did not keep his promise. When the son came of age, Judah didn’t keep his promise, so Tamar came up with a scheme of her own. She pretended to be a cult prostitute, she seduced Judah, he slept with her, so that she became pregnant by Judah and was to bear twins.

When Judah found out about it, he sentenced her to death. “Let her be burned at the stake.” It was only when Tamar revealed that she had collateral that Judah himself had left with her and revealed that Judah was the father that Judah said, “She has been more righteous than I have been.”

Tamar was allowed to live, the sons were born, and one of those sons became one of the ancestors of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2) The second figure in this story is Rahab. Rahab was the Canaanite prostitute who lived in the walls of the city of Jericho. She was the one who hid the spies, who came to view Jericho. Then, when Joshua and the armies of Israel marched around Jericho, before the walls fell down flat, Rahab, because of her kindness to these two spies, because of her hospitality, her life and her household were spared, so much so that Rahab was evidently converted and became a part of the worshiping family of Israel.

In fact, in Hebrews 11 Rahab is listed as a model of faith, and in James 2 she’s mentioned as someone who was justified through her good deeds, a model of faith that works.

(3) Then you have Ruth. Ruth was a Gentile; in fact, probably all four of these women were Gentiles. Certainly Rahab was a Canaanite and Ruth was a Moabite. The Moabites were a nation who were originally born out of Lot’s incest with one of his daughters. In fact, part of the penalty for them was that they could not be numbered among God’s people until so many generations had passed.

But here is Ruth, a Moabite who marries someone who dies during a time of famine, and because of her love and her faithfulness to mother-in-law, Naomi, she swears to stay with her so that her people will be Ruth’s people and Naomi’s God will be her God. She goes back to the land of Israel and eventually marries Boaz. It’s a wonderful love story in the Old Testament in the book that bears her name, the book of Ruth, and it’s really a story of God’s providential working to bring about a hopeful outcome in this family who had experienced so much tragedy. And Ruth, through her marriage to Boaz, also becomes one of the great-great-grandmothers to King David and an ancestor to Jesus Christ.

(4) Finally, the most familiar of these stories of all is the story of Bathsheba. She’s not even named as Bathsheba here, but simply as the wife of Uriah.

You remember the tragic story. King David, well into the years of his reign in 2 Samuel 11, when the kings go out to war, David is strolling on his rooftop one night and he sees a woman bathing. She’s a beautiful woman, he lusts after her, he desires to have her, and he brings her into his household. Bathsheba was probably more victim than accomplice in this, because here’s this powerful thing, and how could she refuse?

In any case, David sleeps with her, she becomes pregnant, and David, desperate to cover his sin, sends her husband, Uriah, to the forefront of the battle so that Uriah will be slain in battle. David becomes not only an adulterer but a murderer, and he lives in the shadow of those sins for some time, until finally he is confronted by Nathan the prophet. David is convicted, David repents, and Nathan tells him, “God has put away your sin.”

But the child that was born to them died, but the rest of the story is that Bathsheba went on to bear several more children, and one of those children was Solomon, who became the next king of Israel.

In all of these stories we see women—that’s unusual in a genealogy—but we also see Canaanite or Gentile women, women who were not part of the family of Israel. We see women whose past and sexuality and morality in some way was compromised, either through their sins or through being sinned against. And in each one of these cases we see God’s redemptive grace at work. Again, to quote Bruner,

“One gets the impression that Matthew pored over his Old Testament until he could locate the most questionable liaisons possible in order to insert them into his record and so finally to preach the gospel even in his genealogy. The gospel teaches that God can use not only non-Israelite Gentiles, but he can also forgive, overcome, and use Jewish and Gentile sinners, soiled but repentant persons, for his great purposes in history.”

Now let that rest on your heart for just a moment. Think about your own life. Do you ever feel tormented by your past? Do you ever look at past sins, things that you’ve done that you are ashamed of? Things that you don’t want anybody else to know? And do you ever feel like, “God can’t use me?” The truth of these stories is that God can use anyone. That God can take the worst sinner, forgive them, redeem them, rescue them, and use them for his purposes.

Do you ever feel imprisoned by things that have been done to you? Maybe you were the victim of somebody else’s sin. And that just hangs like a shadow over your life and you wonder, “Can God use me even though I’ve been broken through the sin of other people against me?” These stories show that God truly can.

If you ever feel like an outsider, an outcast, someone who doesn’t belong in the family, these stories show you that even the outsiders are brought in. They are brought in, not because they are good people, they are brought in because of God’s mercy, God’s grace, God’s compassion. It shows us that God can forgive anyone, that God can rescue anyone, that God can use anyone, that for anyone who is in Christ that word is true, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

“What love could remember no wrongs we have done?
Omniscient, all knowing, he counts not their sum,
Thrown into a sea without bottom or shore,
Our sins, they are many, his mercy is more!”

We sing that together—we’ll sing that later this morning—it is a wonderful truth of the gospel. And it’s embedded right here in the family tree of Jesus.

We see the grace of the gospel through God’s covenant with two men. We see it through God’s compassion on these four women and these four outcasts.

3. God’s Faithfulness through Three Eras

And then thirdly, we see it in God’s faithfulness through three epics, three eras of Old Testament history. We see this in Matthew 1:17,

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”

That basically breaks up Old Testament history into three broad eras beginning with the time of Abraham.

(1) First of all you have the era of the patriarchs and the Exodus and the Judges. It’s those initial generations in the family of Abraham where the nation of Israel was born. That’s the first segment here, the first era.

(2) In the second epic you have that of the kingdom united under David and Solomon. But then the kingdom, of course, divides into northern and southern kingdoms, Israel and Judah. And for many, many years the people of God are hoping that another Davidic king will come. Another heir to David’s throne will come and will unite the nation together.

(3) But then you get to the darkest era of all, the era of the exile, the Babylonian captivity, where the people of God are carried off and dispersed throughout the nations. They lose their land, they lose Jerusalem, and they lose the temple. And even though there’s a brief period of return, they never recover the glory of what had come before. And when we open the New Testament, God’s people had been waiting in silence without a prophet for hundreds of years.

What’s the significance of this? Why does Matthew draw special attention to these three eras? There are several things we could say of it.

First of all we should just note and not be bothered by the fact that the fourteen generations in each section are clearly contrived by Matthew. If you actually compare the genealogy in Matthew to genealogies in the Old Testament, you can see that Matthew leaves out some names. He leaves out the names of several kings, he leaves out several chapters from the Chronicles, and he’s doing this intentionally. He knows that anyone would know this—he’s not trying to fool anyone or pull the wool over anybody’s eyes—instead he’s making a theological point. He’s not merely trying to give us history, although he’s doing that, he’s giving us theological history. And he’s teaching us something about God’s faithfulness in working out his sovereign, providential plan through history. And he’s doing this by using this number fourteen.

Now I’m suspicious of people who make too much of numerology in Scripture. I don’t think we should be looking for secret Bible codes or anything like that, as was common maybe twenty years ago or so. But, that being said, there is some significance when the Bible makes significance of numbers. And the number fourteen is significant.

In Hebrew, letters represented not only phonetic sounds, but also numeric values. And if you take the name David, and you take the numeric values of the consonants of the name David, it adds up to fourteen. Not only that, but the fourteenth name in this genealogy is the name of David. Of course, fourteen is the multiple of seven. Seven times two is fourteen so you have three fourteens, or six sevens, which means that when Jesus comes, you have the beginning of a seventh seven.

You have a new era beginning. And of course seven in Scripture is often a number of perfection. And it seems to be showing us here that Jesus is the perfection of perfection. That he is the one who brings in God’s perfect plan at the culmination of the ages. It’s showing us that God, through the years, even when it seemed most hopeless, even when it seemed most dark, even when it seemed like all hope had been lost, that a king would never come, that a messiah would never come, in the fullness of time God sends his son, Jesus, who brings in this new age of redemptive history.

The main lesson here is clear: it is that God is faithful to his people through the ages. In his grace, in his providence, he does not wipe out a sinful and rebellious people. Instead, even in the darkest times, he is weaving together a story of grace, weaving in those darkest threads into the tapestry of history to show that there is a plan after all.

This story that is in search of an ending reaches its climax in Jesus, the Messiah, who comes in the fullness of times. It shows us the good news of the gospel. The gospel that is seen not only in God’s covenants with Abraham and David, not only in God’s compassion on these four outcast women, but in God’s faithfulness, his providential sovereign faithfulness through the many eras of redemptive history.

To conclude, I think we can draw from this genealogy some practical lessons. We see the grace of the gospel embedded in this list of names. But it teaches something that can help us in all of our reading of God’s word and in all of our Christian lives. And I want to suggest three lessons in these last few minutes.

(1) Number one, we should learn to treasure the entirety of God’s word. We believe 2 Timothy 3:16, “That all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The Scripture is useful. And it’s all Scripture that’s useful. That includes the more boring bits. It includes the list of names. It includes the parts that seem more obscure, that seem to have less value to us. Yet even in those, God has something to communicate to us.

To quote Bruner one more time, he says,

“Matthew’s genealogy is a work of theological craftsmanship more than it is a simple, historical list. It is not only genealogy, it is theology. It is not only archive, it is doctrine. It is not only history, it is sermon. At first let us admit it, this genealogy seems very uninviting but when you sit down, when you get down into it a bit, there is gold in these hills.”

And this gold is gospel gold. It is doctrinal gold, it’s value for us, for teaching. What is the doctrine that we have in this text? It’s really the doctrine of God. As Matthew is showing us, a God who makes and keeps his promises. A God who has mercy and grace on the outcasts and the outsiders. A God who faithfully works out his sovereign purposes in history. And that’s the same God that you and I serve today, brothers and sisters. We can trust in this God. Learn to treasure the entirety of God’s word.

(2) Number two, let’s also learn to treasure the reliability of God’s promises. We’ve already seen it. God kept his promises to Abraham and to David. They didn’t live to see the fulfillment of everything God had promised. But God did keep his promises and we are now recipients of the benefits of those promises. And it reminds us that every promise of God is kept in and through Jesus Christ.

That has practical value for us as well, brothers and sisters. If you think about your life today, whatever you are going through in your life, there is a promise to meet your need. Maybe some of you are going through deep, deep trials. And it feels sometimes like those trials will overwhelm you. And there is a promise of Scripture for you: “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

It may be that you are facing materials needs, financial needs. You don't know how to keep the bills paid. Here’s a promise. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Your father knows what you need before you ask.”

It may be that you wonder if God will be with you through the most difficult seasons of life when you go through the deep valleys, the deep waters, the fiery furnace. Just go read sometime Isaiah 43, where God says, “When you go through the deep waters they will not overwhelm you. When you go through the fire I will be with you.” God promises his presence with us.

Or it may be that you need God’s promises of fresh forgiveness, the assurance of his grace, his mercy, and his pardon in your life, as you reflect on your sins and on your failures and mistakes that you have made. And there is a promise that “if we confess our sins he is faithful and he is just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” You can count on the promises of God. This God who kept his promise was faithful to his covenant with David and with Abraham, will also be faithful to the covenant he has made with you in and through his son, Jesus Christ. Learn to treasure the reliability of God’s promise.

(3) And then finally, number three, let’s also learn to treasure every revelation of God’s grace. Here’s a God who shows himself gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. Here is a God who forgives sinners. Here is a God who redeems the broken. Here is a God who brings in the outcast. Here is a God who takes the Tamars, the Rahabs, the Ruths, and the Bathshebas of the world and he uses them to bring his son into the world. Here is a God who takes the Judahs and the Davids and forgives them their great sins and includes them in his sovereign purposes. And this is a God who can take sinners like you and like me when we come to Jesus Christ in repentant faith, when we ask his forgiveness, and when we seek to be a part of his family, his kingdom, the new creation, and he will redeem us. He will forgive us. He will restore us. And he will use us as his people. He is a God who reveals his grace to us.

Brothers and sisters, in this season of Advent we are celebrating together the coming of the Son of God, the first Advent of Christ, the incarnation of Christ. The story of the incarnation of Christ is really a story of grace. He is God’s inexpressible gift. It’s a gift of grace. And why did Jesus come? He came so that he could die. So that he could redeem us by bearing our sins all the way to the cross. If you’ve never trusted in Christ, I want to encourage you to do that this morning. He will receive you. He will welcome you. If you are a Christian, then relish afresh today the grace of God, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ that is revealed in his word. Let's pray together.

Our gracious, merciful God, we thank you this morning for your word. We thank you that even in passages like this that there are lessons for us, that there are truths to encourage us and to feed and nourish our souls. And we pray that you would help us this morning to receive your word, to benefit from it, and to be encouraged today by your faithfulness to your promises, and by your grace and your mercy that is revealed to us in Christ.

We ask you, Lord, that during this season of Advent, that you would help us keep our minds fixed on Jesus, that we would look to him and not to ourselves, that we would trust not in our works, not in our righteousness, not in our law-keeping, our morality, or anything we could offer, but that we would trust instead in Jesus Christ who came and lived among us, who lived the life we should have lived, who died the death we should have died, and who in triumph was raised from the dead to give us the hope of eternal life.

We ask you, Lord, that even as we come to the table this morning we would come as repentant believers who are turning from our sins and who are clinging to Christ and to Christ alone to give us righteousness and life and spiritual strength to face the battles of the week ahead. We pray that you would nourish us at the Lord’s table this morning, that you would strengthen us by your good grace, that you would draw near to us as we draw near to you. For we love you, we’re so grateful for what you have done for us. And it is our desire to glorify you this morning. We pray for this in and through Jesus Christ our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer. In His name we pray, amen.