This is my second and most recent sermon. It is admittingly a hard read, and may need revising for clarity. See if you can understand it, the intent was for an intro. into the study of Matthew. If you can read it, please give me your feedback. I am currently working on one called "Christ is come", it may be a while though.
The generation of Jesus Christ
"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Matt. 1:1
The book of Matthew is called by men the gospel of Matthew. However, it begins by introducing itself as the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Nowhere does it call itself the gospel of Matthew, that is just a title given to the book by men, not the Holy Ghost. This may seem trivial to most people, but as the sons of God, we must not lean unto our own understanding, or other mens', but simply accept the book for what it says itself to be. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Prov. 3:5-6. If we would follow this wisdom, God will direct our study of the book of the generation of Jesus Christ. If we do not, however, we will be blinded by our own understanding of things from what God would have for us in this book. We should read it with the right frame of mind, that this book is the book of the generation of Jesus Christ. So what is the generation of Jesus Christ? We shall find the answer in the Scriptures.
The first time that the word generation (singular) can be found in the Bible is in the book of Genesis chapter 6, verse 1, "And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen to be righteous before me in this generation." So we see in this place the generation that Noah was seen to be righteous in was all the people in the world at that time, his contemporaries. So, this would mean that generation could mean all people living at a certain time. Now that we establish part of the meaning of the word "generation" as we read in Matt. 1:1, we see some of the meaning of this first verse of Matthew come to light. We see the book of Matthew truly is an account of the birth, death, burial, ressurrection, and ascencion of our Lord into heaven, and all the people that lived with Jesus at the time. It truly is an account of how Jesus came and fulfilled the promise of a Saviour that would come and die for our sins, bringing us to God. That is why men call it "The gospel of (or according) to Matthew", for it speaks of the glad tidings that the Saviour has come and finished the work of redemption on the cross, and rose from the dead and ascended to the Father.
This is a very simple understanding of what this book is and the Bible warns against simplicity, "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." Prov. 1:20-23. This verse seems to contradict 2 Corint. 11:3 "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." There is simplicity in Christ, and the devil does seek to corrupt our minds from the simplicity that is in Christ. However, we should establish the simplicity and build thereon. We should not always stay babes in Christ, and stay with milk, but grow till we can handle meat, and then strong meat, and this we will do if God permit. "For when for the time that ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such that have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For everyone that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Heb. 5: 12-14. The simplicity that is in Christ is for new born babes in Christ, which the devil tries to corrupt their minds from lest they continue to grow in their faith and knowledge of Christ. However, by growing and moving on to the more complex truths, not hidden (for there is "no prophecy of the scripture that is of any private interpretation." 2 Peter 1:20), we do not do away with these simple truths, but we build on them and establish them. This principle is seen when Christ said "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." Matt. 5:17. We also see it in Rom. 3, when Paul speaks of salvation through faith in the blood of Christ, and not by the keeping of the law, he asks in verse 31 "Do we then make the law void through faith?", and then he answers "God forbid: yea, we establish the law." The Scriptures speak plainly that yes, there is the simplicity in Christ, but there are also things that are hard to be uttered. "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing." Heb. 5:11. But the Holy Ghost exhorts us to leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ and go on unto perfection in Heb. 6:1-3 "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit."
So let us go on unto perfection in our understanding of what this book calls itself. Yes, it does contain the account of Jesus Christ and the people living with him at the time, however, there is something to be gained if we take a closer look at the meaning of "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ". It's not hidden, but easy to overlook if we do not read and study carefully. Remember, not only is Jesus a man, but he is the Word made flesh, the Almighty himself. We see this in John 1: 1-2, 14 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." " And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Jesus is the eternal God, this is also seen in 1 John 5:7, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.", and in 1 John 5:20 "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." Christ himself said so in John 8:58 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." So, knowing that Christ is the eternal God, who has no beginning or end, who are his contemporaries? Well, in that light the answer would be everyone that ever lived. This understanding will bring some light to the meaning of "generation of Jesus Christ". So, who comprises this generation, everyone who has ever lived or will live on this earth? We find the answer in Psalms 22:30-31, "A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted unto the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this." We see that the seed that shall serve God is his Son, his generation . It is also important to note that this is one generation, one seed, but it says "they shall come". So why does it refer to this seed that shall serve the Lord and be accounted unto him for a generation as being singular, yet it says "they shall come"? Well, let's establish why it says a generation, instead of generations, or many generations. We see that the generation(s) of a man are his sons in Gen. 5. The book of Genesis calls itself the "book of the generations of Adam" in verse 1. Then it lists his sons to Noah and his three sons. Noah's three sons were also called the generations of Noah in chapter 6, verse 9-10 "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japeth." So then the generation of Jesus Christ, simply put, is Christ. This generation of Jesus Christ is Christ's family. When I say this generation comprises Christ's family, I mean his spiritual family, not fleshly. "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Matt. 12:50. Now according to Rom. 3, there is none that doeth good. So who can say that he is part of the generation of Jesus Christ? This is why in Psalms 22:30 it says a seed shall serve him, who is Jesus Christ. Notice it says "it" (the seed) shall be accounted unto the Lord. So then the generation is Christ himself. The generation of Jesus Christ is Christ. One would say, this makes no sense. Well, it doesn't make sense to the carnal mind, but to him that is born of the Spirit, it could be no other way. One must overcome the flesh, the understanding of the carnal mind, and accept the truth of God's word spoken by the Holy Ghost by faith.
How can I say that the generation of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ? Well, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Have we not already established that Jesus is God? What about the Father, is he Jesus? "...and these three are one." 1 John 5:20. "I and my Father are one." John 10:30. If Jesus and the Father are one, then Jesus is his own Son, he is the Son of God. Remember John 14:8-9 "Philip sayeth unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father?" What Philip was asking of Christ was evidence of Philips condition of being lost. Philip had already seen the Father, Jesus Christ. However, Philip seeing did not see just like the time when Christ spoke to the multitudes in parables in Matt. 13. His disciples asked him why he spoke to them in parables and he answered "Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." Matt. 13:11. Then he went on to say in 13-15 "Therefore speak I unto them in parables: because seeing they see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which sayeth, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not percieve: for this people's heart is waxed gross, and they are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." Philip, being a disciple of Christ, was given the knowledge of the mystery, that to see the Father, you must see Christ and percieve him to be who he is, God Almighty, and then you would understand that you have already seen the Father. Although it was given to Philip to know this, he could not recieve it because of his carnal mind. He could not see that the Father was standing right in front of him, for Christ is in the Father, and the Father in him as he says in John 14:11. Believers should take heed, lest they fall into this condition of not being able to recieve what God has to give us because our hearts have waxed gross, and we have grown dull of hearing, and have closed our eyes. This is what happened to the people that the writer of Hebrews was addressing when he said "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing." Heb. 5:11. Also the Corinthians when Paul said "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" 1 Corin. 3:1-3.
So understanding that the book of the generation of Jesus Christ is the book of Jesus Christ we can appreciate the reason it says generation, and not just Jesus Christ which would also be correct, but lacking something God would have for us to understand. This will also help us understand the reason it says "they shall come" in Psalms 22: 31. There seems to be a contradiction when we understand the seed to be Jesus, yet it refers to the seed, the generation who is Jesus Christ, as "they" in the next verse. However, with more study we will see that this is no contradiction. Notice it says in Matt. 1:1 "the son of David, the son of Abraham.", and then it begins to give the lineage from Abraham to David, and then to "Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." verse 16. Notice that when it said the generations of Adam and Noah, it began to list their sons, and not their fathers. Also notice that it says generation (singular), as opposed to generations (plural). This is because all the people listed from Abraham to Joseph are the sons of Christ by faith in him. "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were." Rom. 4: 16-17. We see that Abraham was a father to the Jews according to the flesh, but he is the spiritual father of all them that recieve Christ by faith, the latter being more substantial than the first. What do I mean by that? "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Rom. 9: 6-8. The flesh will pass away and return to the dust, and means nothing to God. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." Rom. 7:18. He does not care who your father is according to the flesh, what matters to him is if you are of the seed, that generation accounted to the Lord. That seed that "shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this." Psalms 22:31. So when I say that we being the children of Abraham by faith is more substanial than those who claim Abraham as their father according to the flesh, I mean that one will last forever, and the other will be forgotten and is not even considered by the LORD. "For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." Psalms 1:6. Remember what Christ told the Jews that believed on him when they said they were "Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" John 8:33. He told them that he knew they were Abraham's seed, but they sought to kill him, and they did that which they had seen of their father. We know that he was not speaking of Abraham. "They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." verse 39. Then Jesus went on to tell them who their real father was, the devil, verse 44. So understanding that this generation of Jesus Christ are the children of Abraham, the children of faith, that do the will of God, but also that it is Jesus Christ himself, the Creator of all, what a wonderful truth we see in this book being the book of the generation of Jesus Christ. We see that this is our book, because it is his book. We are his body and he is the head, and that makes us him. Just as Jesus and the Father are one, so we and Christ are one, and we are one in God, and God is in us.
We see that the Father is answering the prayer of his Son that he prayed in John 17:21-24 "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and have loved them, as thou hast loved me." This is what the Father is currently doing with all believers, he is perfecting them in Christ. He is gathering all things in Christ "That in the despensation of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him:" Eph. 1:10. The wicked shall be destroyed in this bringing together of all things in Christ, but the righteous will be preserved in Christ. "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all decievableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they recieved not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." 2 Thess. 2: 9-10. Christ said when speaking of the day that God will finish the work of gathering all things in him "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at anytime your hearts be overcharged in surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare it shall come upon all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." Luke 21: 32-26. Who will be accounted worthy to stand before the Son of man? They that are hearers and doers of the word. They that recieve with meekness the engrafted word. They that live by faith. As we hear and obey the word of God, it becomes a part of us. "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." James 1:21-22. We see that all things as they exist today, will pass away. All except for God himself, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" 2 Peter 3:10-12. The Bible says that God is a consuming fire in Hebrews 12, where it also speaks of the day of God when he will shake not only the earth but also heaven, that those things which cannot be shaken will remain. What are those things that cannot be shaken? God, and when we say God, you can include the Father, the Word, the Holy Ghost, and all those that are indwelt by the Holy Ghost, and do the will of God. All this is in Christ, and in God, and he is the consuming fire that will dissolve the heavens and burn up the earth and the works therein. The only ones that will remain are they that do the will of God, this is that generation of Jesus Christ.
This generation is not limited to the bounds of time, or fleshly patronage. This generation is only limited to God, his Son, and all those that are baptized with the Holy Ghost into God's Son, Jesus Christ. When we read the book of Matthew, we can have the understanding that this book is of us, it is of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus was born of the Holy Ghost, even so we must be born of the Spirit. Just as he was baptized with water, so should we be. Just as he was led of the Spirit to be tempted of the devil, so should we be led of the same Spirit. Just as he overcame the temptation of the devil by the word of God, so should we also overcome when we are tempted. Just as he healed the sick and preached the gospel to the poor, we should also heal and preach the gospel. Just as he prayed and recieved of his Father, we also should pray and recieve of our Father. Just as he was persecuted for righteousness, so will we be if we are of him. Just as he laid his life down for us, we should lay our lives down for him. Just as he rose from the dead, we should be risen with him. You see, its not only being like Christ, but actually being Christ by faith. To hear and do the word, to live the word, is power to become a son of God which he has given to all them that recieve him by faith. "But as many as recieved him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12,13. The beautiful thing is that to those who have true faith in Christ, they become Christ, and are that seed that shall serve him, and they are that seed that shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation, and this is their book, their covenant sealed by the blood of the Lamb, and the Holy Ghost, by the Word of God.