Since Jesus is the Son of God who has existed before time began, some people assume He has no family history. But this assumption is wrong. Two Gospel of the New Testament-Matthew and Luke-contain family histories of Jesus. And these genealogies give us valuable information about Him and His revolutionary ministry that changed the world.
Matthew begins his Gospel with a family history of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17). He declares that Jesus was “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Then he traces Jesus’ family line through three units of fourteen generations each-from Abraham to David, from the Babylonian captivity to Jesus Christ.
Matthew wrote his Gospel to show that Jesus was the fulfillment of Jewish hopes for the messianic king who would be born through David’s royal line. The Jews emphasized the importance of family genealogies. they would be more likely to accept Jesus’ claim to be God’s promised deliverer if He had the appropriate family credentials to prove it.
This genealogy in Matthew is important for another reason. In the Old Testament, God promised David an everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:16). This promise seemed to disappear when Judah was taken into exile by the Babylonians and the nation never recovered from this tragedy. but Matthew’s family history declares that this promise will be fulfilled-although in a spiritual sense-through “Jesus Christ. the son of David.”
The genealogy in Matthew, throughly Jewish in some ways, is surprisingly non-Jewish at certain points. For example, Matthew included two Gentiles-Rahab and Ruth-and four women-Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Two of these women-Rahab and Bathsheba-committed the sin of adultery. Jewish genealogies normally and not include women-certainly not women who had committed such a serious sin.
Jesus’ family history in Matthew declares that He came into the world for all people, not just Jewish males. The apostle Paul expressed this revolutionary truth like this: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Like Matthew, the Gospel of Luke also includes a family history of Jesus. But Luke does not insert his genealogy until the point where Jesus began His public ministry (Luke 3:23-28). Luke apparently traced Jesus’ lineage through His mother, Mary’s, family line. Many scholars believe the “Heli” mentioned here as Joseph’s father (Luke 3:23) was actually the father of Mary.
Luke’s genealogy goes all the way back to Adam, the first man, emphasizing the universality of the Messiah. He is identified not with the Jewish people alone but with the entire human race.