Matthew 1:1-21 – A light in the darkness (A Chrismas Sermon) – David Hill

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Theme sentence: God’s promised King has come to save His people from their sins.

Aim sentence: Has the light of Christ shone into your heart? Has your crooked past been covered – has Jesus saved you from your sins?

Joy to the WORLD the Lord has come.

Joy to the       World.

If someone asked you to use ONE word to describe our world – what word would you use?

What word do you think is best to tell us what our world is like?

There is one word the bible uses often to describe our world – It is the word DARKNESS

If you think about darkness – it is scary.

And because of sin – our world is a scary place to live in.

Sin causes sadness and death – crying and hurt – the sin in our world leaves many people feeling hopeless – their world seems dark.

At Christmas time people often put lights in their homes – in shops – and towns – and restaurants – they are filled with twinkling lights.

Christmas is a time that is meant to be full of light – because we are remembering Jesus.

He is like a bright light shining into the darkness.

He came to deal with the darkness of sin – and sadness – He came to wipe the tears from our eyes.                He came to bring us forgiveness – life – hope – JOY!

Joy to the world the Lord has come.

Now it is quite amazing to see the family tree that Jesus was born into.

Matthew starts by giving us a genealogy – A genealogy is a family tree.

Like Graham Hill – is the father of David Hill – and David Hill is the father of Nathan Hill.

Matthew wants us to know who Jesus was related to – and Jesus family line is weird – it’s unexpected – it’s shocking – it’s dark.

Sometimes remarkable people come from messed up families.

Who of you like Roald Dahl’s stories?

What are some of your favourites?

I love reading Roald Dahl stories. I’ve read most of them to my kids – we have the audiobooks in our car – I think he is just brilliant.

One of my favourites is the story of Matilda.

Matilda Wormwood is an extraordinary genius of a child with really stupid parents.

Listen to how Roald Dahl introduces them.

“Mr and Mrs Wormwood had a son called Michael and a daughter called Matilda, and the parents looked upon Matilda in particular as nothing more than a scab.               A scab is something you have to put up with until the time comes when you can pick it off and flick it away.        Mr and Mrs Wormwood looked forward enormously to the time when they could pick their little daughter off and flick her away, preferably into the next county or even further than that.

It is bad enough when parents treat ordinary children as though they were scabs and bunions, but it becomes somehow a lot worse when the child in question is extraordinary, and by that, I mean sensitive and brilliant.       Matilda was both of these things, but above all she was brilliant.”

In the story, Mr Wormwood is a very shady second-hand car dealer.

Mrs Wormwood is a bingo addicted stay at home mom – who has no interest in actually being a mom.

Matilda’s family is a mess!

The story causes you to wonder how such an exceptional child could come from such a messed up family.

Every Christmas, Christians around the world celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.

Very seldom are the first 17 verses in Matthews Gospel read – the genealogy is skimmed over to get to the ‘good stuff’.

I want us to see this Christmas morning that this family tree helps us to see why the birth of Jesus is so amazing – actually extraordinary.

Baby Jesus came from a very messed up – dysfunctional – dark family line.                He had a very crooked family tree.

As we look at this family line it should cause us to wonder how such an exceptional child could come from such a messed up family.

Once we have looked at this family line, when we eventually get to Jesus – we will marvel at just how brightly He shines in the darkness.

Let’s have a quick look at this very dark and crooked family tree.

A very crooked family tree

Have a look at verse 1: “This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

Matthew starts by linking Jesus to two great names.

Firstly King David.     Matthew wants us to see that Jesus comes from the Royal line. God had promised David that one of His sons would be a forever King.

Matthew is putting the spotlight on Jesus in verse 1 and saying, “The forever King promised to David has arrived.”

Then secondly, verse 1 tells us that Jesus is also the son of Abraham.

God made some massive promises to Abraham – God promised him land and descendants – but most importantly God said this, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

God promised that someone would come from Abraham’s family who would bring international blessing.

Matthew is putting the spotlight on Jesus and saying, “International blessing will come through this child.”

Now Matthew could have jumped from verse 1 to verse 17.

His Gospel could have started like this, “This is the beginning of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham. There were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to Christ.”

But Matthew didn’t write it like this – he added in 15 verses of names – and what a list it is – there is a lot of darkness in this list – with a few glimmers of light.

Kids, are any of you scared of the dark?

Have any of you ever been in a room that is pitch black?

It is actually pretty terrifying.

If you’ve ever been to the Cango caves you will know what pitch darkness is like.

During the tour, they show you what the cave must have looked like to the farmer who discovered them.

They put off all the lights and you are thrown into darkness so thick that you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

My gran once visited the caves – when they turned the lights off she got such a shock that she grabbed hold of my grandpa’s hand. Only when the lights came back on did she realise that she had grabbed some other man’s hand.

Being in the dark can be very scary.

Jesus family tree is full of very dark patches.

Matthew does something interesting in this list.               In the first 6 verses, he throws in the names of a bunch of women.

Now we might not find that very strange, but in Matthews’ day, women were not included in genealogies.

In those days a woman had no legal rights. She could not inherit property or give testimony in a court of law. She was completely under her husband’s power.

But Matthew includes their names – and they are very strange women to name.

Tamar,                      Rahab, and       Bathsheba were all women of questionable character. They are linked by incest, prostitution and adultery.

Ruth was a Moabite – They were a people group known for their sexual immorality.

Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites – Bathsheba was married to a Hittite – and Ruth was a Moabite.

All of them were not from God’s chosen people.

If you were recording your own family history – these are the types of names you would try and leave off somehow.

And yet these are the names Matthew includes.

By doing this Matthew wants us to see that Jesus came for people who were not a part of God’s chosen nation.

Jesus came for bad people – sad people – sinful people.             People just like you and me.

As Jesus family tree continues the dark patches grow.

In verse 6 we meet Solomon – his story in the book of 1 Kings starts like a light burning brightly – He builds the temple – God’s glory fills that place – but then in Solomon’s life the lights seem to be dimmed.

It is like one of those dimmer switches on some lights – as Solomon is led away from God by his foreign wives the light gets dimmer and dimmer – and his life ends in darkness.

In verse 7 Solomon is followed be Rehoboam who cruelly oppressed God’s people – and as a result the Kingdom of Israel was split in two.

By the end of verse 9 Ahaz is King – he was so wicked that he sacrificed his own son.

In verse 10 we meet Manasseh – He was the worst of the lot – the most wicked King that the Jews ever had – he also sacrificed his son – he practiced sorcery – consulted mediums – he was incredibly evil – Under his rule the people reach the point of no return – and in verse 11 they are taken to the darkness of exile in Babylon.

Can you see what a crooked and dark family line Jesus came from?

Sure there are some flickers of light in Hezekiah and Josiah and a few others – but most of this list of names is very dark.

When evil King Ahaz was on the throne a prophet called Isaiah was speaking God’s Word to the people.

One of the promises that God gave through Isaiah was this, in Isaiah 9:2 we read, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

God’s people were desperately waiting for this light to shine into the darkness of their world.

And that is why Christmas is such a wonderful time.

The light       has                shone.

The one who can save His people from their sins has finally arrived.

He will save His people from their sins

Jesus family tree reminds us why the world so desperately needed a Saviour.

Look at verse 18. After this list of names – into the darkness of this family line – we read in verse 18, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.”

Jesus – His name means “God saves” – and His title ‘Christ’ means the Messiah – the promised King.

Jesus is the promised one – the one God’s people had been longing for.

And look at the most glorious news in verse 21, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because                  he WILL save his people from their sins.

Imagine Joseph’s heart missing a beat as he heard those words.

Finally!           Finally the one with the power to sort out sin was on His way.

Finally into the darkness the light was dawning.

The light has dawned

If we jump forward 30 years this baby grew to be a man – and as He began His ministry in Matthew 4 we read these words.

“Leaving Nazareth, Jesus went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet      Isaiah:   “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”            From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:13–17)

This baby in the manger who we are remembering and celebrating today – came to save the dark world from our sins.

This Christmas morning should fill us with great joy.

Jesus has shone the light of salvation into our dark world.

That is why lights are such an appropriate decoration this time of year.

Now what?

So today light those candles

Turn on the Christmas lights on your tree or around your home.

But let all of those flickering, twinkling lights remind you of the greatest light that has shone into history.

It is a mind bending thought that the same voice that said, “Let there be light!” – that same voice could be heard crying in the manger that first Christmas.”

On that day angels sang and lit up the sky. Hope rang out in a newborn’s cry.          The saviour was born!

The light has shone into the darkness.

As we look at Jesus’ family tree you may have at times wondered how these people could possibly lead up to Christ.

But just as these people were in the line leading to Christ, so our names can be included in the line that leads from Christ.

He came to save people like that – and people like this – people like you and me – He came to save us from our sins.

Jesus was the only hope for the people in His family tree – Jesus is the only hope for all of us living in this dark, sinful world

The light is still shining in the darkness.

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Hail, the Sun of righteousness!

Light      and                life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in His wings,

Mild, He lays His glory by;

Born that man no more may die;

Born to raise the sons of earth;

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! The herald angels sing:

‘Glory to the new-born King!

This is a King worth celebrating. Let’s celebrate Him today – and every day.

The light of Salvation has shone into the darkness of our world.

Joy to the world the Lord has come!

Jesus family tree - Final

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