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Matthew 1:1-17

THESE verses begin the New Testament. Let us always read them with serious and solemn feelings. The book before us contains not “the word of men, but of God.” Every verse in it was written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Let us thank God daily for giving us the Scriptures. The poorest Englishman who understands his Bible knows more about religion than the wisest philosophers of Greece and Rome.

Let us never forget the deep responsibility which possession of the Bible entails on us. We shall be judged at the last day according to our light. To whomsoever much is given, of them much will be required.

Let us read the Bible reverently and diligently, with an honest determination to believe and practice all we find in it. It is no light matter how we use this book. Above all, let us never read the Bible without praying for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. He alone can apply truth to our hearts, and make us profit by what we read.

The New Testament begins with the history of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. No part of the Bible is so important as this, and no part is so full and complete. Four distinct Gospels tell us the story of Christ’s doings and dying. Four times we read the precious account of His works and words. How thankful we ought to be for this! To know Christ is life eternal. To believe in Christ is to have peace with God. To follow Christ is to be a true Christian. To be with Christ will be heaven itself. We can never hear too much about the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of St. Matthew begins with a long list of names. Sixteen verses are taken up with tracing a pedigree from Abraham to David, and from David to the family in which Jesus was born. Let no one think that these verses are useless. Nothing is useless in creation. The least mosses, and the smallest insects, serve some good end. Nothing is useless in the Bible. Every word of it is inspired. The chapters and verses which seem at first sight unprofitable are all given for some good purpose. He that looks carefully at these sixteen verses will not fail to see in them useful and instructive lessons.

We learn, for one thing, from this list of names, that God always keeps His word. He had promised that “in Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed.” He had promised to raise up a Saviour of the family of David. (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 11:1) These sixteen verses prove that Jesus was the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, and that God’s promise was fulfilled. Thoughtless and ungodly people should remember this lesson, and be afraid. Whatever they may think, God will keep His word. If they repent not they will surely perish. True Christians should remember this lesson, and take comfort. Their Father in Heaven will be true to all His engagements. He has said that He will save all believers in Christ. If He has said it, He will certainly do it. “He is not a man, that He should lie.” “He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” (Num 13:19; 2 Timothy 2:13)

We learn for another thing from this list of names, the sinfulness and corruption of human nature. It is instructive to observe how many godly parents in this catalogue had wicked and ungodly sons. The names of Roboam, Joram, Amon and Jechonias should teach us humbling lessons. They had all pious fathers. But they were all wicked men. Grace does not run in families. It needs something more than good examples and good advice to make us children of God. They that are born again are not born of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God. (John 1:13) Praying parents should pray night and day that their children may be born of the Spirit.

We learn lastly from this list of names, how great is the mercy and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us think how defiled and unclean human nature is, and then think what a condescension it was in Him to be born of a woman, and made in “the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7) Some of the names we read in this catalogue remind us of shameful and sad Histories. Some of the names are those of persons never mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. But at the end of all comes the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though He is the eternal God, He humbled Himself to become man, in order to provide salvation for sinners. “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

We should always read this catalogue with thankful feelings. We see here that no one who partakes of human nature can be beyond the reach of Christ’s sympathy and compassion. Our sins may have been as black and great as those of any whom St. Matthew names. But they cannot shut us out of heaven, if we repent and believe the Gospel. If the Lord Jesus was not ashamed to be born of a woman whose pedigree contained such names as those we have read today, we need not think that He will be ashamed to call us brethren, and to give us eternal life.

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