Adoption in the Matthean Geneology

I have been thinking a bit about the picture of adoption that we see spelled out in the New Testament in which we are said to be co-heirs with Christ through our adoption as sons and daughters of God. Paul says a great deal about this, but he is not the only one.

I was reading through the geneology in Matthew 1:1-18 tonight (yes, people do actually read that part) when I was struck by the realization that Matthew is setting us up for a greater understanding of what this adoption as children of God entails.

Matthew presents his geneology to show that Jesus has fulfilled prophesy that the Messiah would be one from the lineage of king David. He does so, interestingly I think, by starting even before David to show that Jesus not only falls in this line, but that the family tree indeed runs back to Abraham himself. He carefully shows that there are 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the Babylonian exile, and then 14 from the exile to Jesus. But perhaps the most interesting part of the whole picture comes in verse 16.

According to the flow of the genealogy up to this point, one has come to expect a pattern of so-and-so the father of so-and-so. Yet in verse 16, as we get to the immediate family of Jesus, the author abruptly shifts his pattern. Instead of the expected Joseph the father of Jesus, we instead get Joseph the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

What is so significant about this? Two things jump out immediately. First, Jewish geneology traditionally includes only the males of a family, the line passing from father to son and so on. This sudden inclusion of a woman, Mary, immediately throws off this standard way of marking inheritance. Second, by noting Jesus as the son of Mary, but not explicitly Joseph, the author is bringing focus to the fact that Jesus was not his genetic offspring.

So whats the big deal? What Matthew seems to be doing here is emphasizing that, though Jesus was not the genetic offspring of Joseph, he nevertheless is counted as such and is therefore, through adoption, a rightful heir to David.

Now to get to the crux of the issue. If Jesus, through adoption, is counted as rightful heir to all that would belong to the genetic offspring of his adopted father Joseph, how much more are we who are adopted through Christ counted as rightful heirs to all that which belongs to Christ himself as the only begotten Son of God?

I am still working out all of the implications of this, but how amazing is it, that with the first verses of the New Testament Canon, we have already been prepared for the blessings (and responsibilities) that await us as adopted children and co-heirs with Christ? I’ll tell you – its pretty amazing from where I’m sitting.


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