Abraham to Jesus – Matthew 1:1-17
Who invented the idea of families? Of course, it was God. The family was the first institution God established on earth. God works His plan through families (and maybe that’s one of the reasons Satan attacks families so fiercely).
Even Jesus had a family; he inherited specific DNA from real people, his ancestors. The book of Matthew starts with Jesus’ family tree. Right away, when we review the names listed in this passage, we see people who were heroes, like Abraham and Boaz; people who were scoundrels, like Judah and Manasseh; people whose lives were changed and redeemed by God’s grace, like Jacob and Rahab; people who are well-known, like David and Ruth; and people about whom we know almost nothing, like Nahshon and Matthan.
Whether we know them or not, God knew each one of these people inside and out (and He knew all the ones who aren’t listed, too). Each one had a role to play in the coming of the Messiah. God had planned for the Messiah’s birth before the beginning of time. Titus 1:2 says, … “they have eternal life, …which God promised before time began.”
Where in Scripture do we find the first promise of Jesus’ coming? It’s early in God’s story in Gen. 3:15. “[The woman’s seed] will strike [Satan’s] head, and [Satan] will bruise [His] heel.” This is really a summary of the whole Bible: Jesus will one day crush Satan, but until He does, Satan will unsuccessfully try his hardest to hurt Jesus and His people. Several times in the Bible, we see how Satan tried to thwart God’s plan. For example, in Esther, we read that evil Haman convinced King Xerxes to proclaim an edict where the Jews were to be attacked and killed everywhere in the kingdom. If the plan had been carried to completion, the whole Jewish nation would have been wiped out. But God is greater than any evil plan of Satan, and so, through Esther and Mordecai, the nation was preserved, and Jesus’ ancestors were saved.
Throughout the Old Testament, God repeatedly reminded His people that the Messiah was coming, and He gave many hints as to when and where they could find Him. Don’t forget, however, that between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, there was a span of 400 years of silence. Most people grew tired of waiting for God’s promise to come to fruition, but there were some who waited patiently and expectantly. In the prophecy of Daniel 9:26, God pinpointed when the Messiah would come. “Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes.” Do the math: 7 x 7 = 49 plus 62 x 7 = 434. This is a total of 483 years. Those who paid attention to what Daniel had said were ready and watching for Jesus’ appearance. (That’s why we will see in Luke 2 that Simeon was waiting to see the Messiah; he knew the time for the Messiah’s appearance was near).
These beginning verses of Matthew remind us that God always keeps His promises. His plans unfold exactly how and when He intends, and He loves to use people to bring His plans to fruition. One last reminder: Jesus didn’t have earthly descendants, but His family is growing because He invites all of us to join His family. John 1:12 reminds us that “to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” We want to make sure that our kids hear that invitation to become part of Jesus’ family by believing on Him. It’s the most important decision they will ever make.
Activity – Jesus’ Family Tree – give kids coloring sheets of various people from Jesus’ family tree.
As kids color, read hints to kids to see if they can identify who you’re describing. Point out the variety of people in Jesus’ family tree. Point out that some exhibited great faith; some were great sinners; some experienced grace and redemption; some were powerful and important; others we barely know. God used all of them to create His Son in the flesh, and all were integral to God’s plans.
Game – Who Am I?
- 1. I left my family and traveled to the land of Canaan. God promised that one day I would own all the land I saw, but when I died, I owned only one field where I had buried my wife. Abraham
- 2. I fought a giant and won. I killed him with my sling shot and stone. David
- 3. I was the wisest man who ever lived. I was a king of Israel. Solomon
- 4. My name means “deceiver.” I tricked my father into giving me a blessing by pretending to be my brother. Jacob
- 5. I was not born as an Israelite. I lived in Jericho, but I had heard about the Israelites’ God and I feared Him, so I hid the spies when they came to my house. I asked them to save me and my family, so they told me to hang a scarlet rope in my window. They kept their promise to save me. I married one of their men, and I became one of the children of Israel. Rahab
- 6. I was Jesus’ earthly father. After Jesus was born, an angel awoke me one night and told me to escape to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to get away from evil king Herod. Joseph
- 7. I was born to VERY old parents. My mother was 90 and my father was 100 when I was born. In fact, my mother laughed when she heard the angel say that I would be born, so my name means “he laughs.” Isaac
- 8. I became king when I was only 8 years old. When I was 26, I ordered the repair of the temple. While workers were repairing the temple, they found a book, the Book of the Law, which they read to me. When we heard the words of the Lord, we repented. Josiah
- 9. I also was not born an Israelite. I came to Israel with my mother-in-law after my husband had died. While I was gathering food for my mother-in-law and myself, I met my future husband. Ruth
- 10. My mother was not born an Israelite. Her name was Rahab. My wife was also not originally an Israelite. Her name was Ruth. Our great-grandson was the second king of Israel, King David. Boaz
- 11. I was Jesus’ mother. When an angel told me that I would have a baby, I went to visit my cousin, Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. Mary
Game – Family Tree – put the pictures kids colored in order, according to the verses in Matthew 1.
Invitation – all these people were part of Jesus’ family BEFORE He came to earth, just as you have family members who lived before you were born – parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. But, did you know that we all have the chance to become part of Jesus’ family now? John 1:12 tells us that whoever believes on Jesus (trusts Him – believes that He died to pay for your sins) can become a child of God. When you become part of Jesus’ family, He gives you His Holy Spirit to care for you, pray for you, teach you, and remind you how to please Jesus.