The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:
This first verse of Matthew’s gospel tells me something that is easy to overlook. It tells me what Matthew’s operating premise is. That premise: Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s most monumental promise, namely to give mankind a Savior Who will set us free and will, eventually, conquer the entire world and reign.
Matthew calls back to two individuals: David and Abraham. Each has a covenant with God — the present tense is used because both God and those with Whom He made covenants are still very much alive. David’s covenant with God — really, the promise God made to David — is that David would never lack someone of his lineage to sit on the throne of Israel. Israel has no king at the moment. The monarchic social structure has been shunned in favor of the parliamentary, but that may well be because Israel’s King is still very much alive. Abraham’s covenant with God is that in Abraham’s seed (descendant … singular), all of the Earth would be blessed.
While the individual promises are important, they are not my focal point this morning. This morning, my attention was arrested by the idea that both of these men were in covenants with God; had made an agreement with God; had received God’s promise and accepted it not as a thing future but as a fait accompli. Matthew name-dropping these two individuals in the very first phrase he pens serves as a reminder that God makes promises and that those who have been called righteous and friend of God and man after God’s own heart receive those promises as already fulfilled, not as something yet future.
Matthew will spend the rest of his gospel proving that Jesus is the fulfillment of promise; the Messiah. Matthew quotes promise after promise; prophecy after prophecy and shows how Jesus fulfilled each of them. That is what this gospel sets out to prove.
While Matthew being preoccupied with Jesus as the fulfillment of promise and prophecy is a valid note on which to begin reading through the gospel he wrote, that does not answer for how it applies to me today. Except that it kind of does. Matthew began his account of Who God is and how God fulfilled His promises with a reminder that God always has made and kept promises. That, in fact, is the beginning of the NT (New Testament): God fulfills promises. Do I believe that? I do not need to merely mentally assent to the veracity of the claim. Agreeing that it is true is not quite the same as belief. That is more confession than faith. Do I trust God to make good on His promises? In point of fact, I should behave as if He already has.
Matthew begins his journey as a tax collector, though his nickname, Levi, seems to hint that he might have been born into a family that would have allowed him to become part of the temple service. He began his walk with Christ in a place where it is unlikely that he trusted God to make good on His promises. Matthew came to trust that God would follow-through. Wherever I find myself this morning; however little or much I trust that God can and will and even desires to make good His promises, God can start there and move me forward to a place where I trust.
I do not trust easily and I do not trust often. I have received enough evidence; enough confirmation that trust is too often unwarranted. But God (my favorite phrase in scripture) is absolutely trustworthy (worth my trust). Trust is, to me, a costly thing. If I do not see a return on the trust I invest, I do not invest more. I want to see an ROIT; a return on invested trust. How much trust have I invested in God? However much it is, I think it is not enough. The potential ROIT is immense, but return requires investment. It is well past time I became more invested in God.