The uniqueness of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17)

Published on Tuesday, 17 October 2017 05:32
The first verse of Matthew 1 stresses that Jesus is unique. It is likely that a Jew who knew the Old Testament would be very excited when he first read this opening sentence of Matthew. We should imagine one such person receiving this gospel or hearing it read. The first verse would grab his attention and he would say to himself, ‘I am going to be told how Jesus becomes the fulfilment of what was promised to Abraham and David.’

Four names are used of Jesus in verse 1. First, there is his name Jesus, which was chosen for him by God. It means that salvation is of the Lord. A reader might say, ‘How will he bring that about?’ Matthew will tell us that Jesus will do so by going to the cross and suffering there instead of sinners. Such a competence makes Jesus unique because he is the only Saviour for sinners.

Second, there is the name Christ, which means ‘anointed one’. The Jewish reader would know that in the Old Testament it was predicted that the Messiah would be anointed with the Holy Spirit (e.g. Isa. 11:2).  We can assume that the reader would be curious when this would happen, and Matthew will inform him of that Jesus, when he was baptised by John, received the Spirit in a special way and began to perform miracles and engage in other activities connected to the coming of the Spirit.

Third, Jesus is referred to as the son of David, which is a reminder that he would be a King. The reader would wonder when Jesus became King and from where he would rule. Imagine his surprise to read later on that Jesus would become King after he rose from the dead and have all power given to him.

Fourth, Jesus is the son of Abraham, not only because he is a descendant of Abraham, but also because he fulfils the promise that was made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 and elsewhere that all people would be blessed by God through what would be achieved by the Seed of Abraham. 

At the end of Matthew, we have what is often called the Great Commission. Its details are connected to Jesus being the son of David and the son of Abraham. We can see a reference to him as the King when he says that all power is given to him in heaven and on earth, and we see a reference to him as the son of Abraham when he tells his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations.  

This name of Jesus is a permanent name. He is always going to be the Saviour anointed with the Spirit, reigning for ever on the throne of David, and bringing blessings on a universal scale. I suspect we are so familiar with this set of names that we don’t experience the impact that our unknown reader would have had when he first read them.

In addition, this name or set of names of Jesus is precious because each of them describes what he does for his people. They look at him with gratitude and confess that his name is as ointment poured forth, very fragrant. And because that is the case, his name is peerless, and they magnify and exalt him, glad to know that he is supreme throughout the heavens and the earth.

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