The Son of Abraham
Text: Matthew 1:1-17
Matthew must have pondered deeply before he wrote the opening words of the introduction to his Gospel. There was so much to say about Jesus! He was most likely aware of the plans of other Disciples to write about the Life of their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. Each Gospel writer would of course have selected his particular target audience, and would arrange the carefully researched material in such a way that he would be able to present a powerful presentation of the Life of Christ!
The synoptist Matthew decided that he would present Jesus as the Messianic King to his readers! Israel needed to know that their Messiah had come! There couldn’t have been a more important truth that the nation needed to know! Their long-promised Messiah had come!
It was natural for Matthew to introduce Jesus in the next breath as “The Son of Abraham”. All Jews prided themselves in their lineage of being called children of Abraham. Matthew reflected this pride in the following text.
“And do not think to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father…'”
The Apostle John noted the same sense of pride of the Jews in this text.
“They answered Him,
‘We are Abraham’s descendants…”
Was Matthew introducing Jesus with pride, that He was a Son of Abraham? Hardly! The author had a profound proposition to make. He understood the term “Son of Abraham” at a deeper level of comprehension! In order to understand this term better, we would need to trace the phrase theologically and historically.
THE PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
The Book of Genesis records God’s promise to Abraham in several places.
1. At the Outset when he was still in Ur of the Chaldeans
“Now the Lord had said to Abram:
‘Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth
shall be blessed.’ ”
God’s promise of blessing may be itemized thus:-
a) God will show him a “land”.
b) He will make Abraham into “a great nation”.
c) He will make his “name great”.
d) He will be a blessing to “all the families of the earth”.
e) He will give special protection from all who may curse him.
f) He will give special blessing to those who respect him.
2. When he first stepped into the land of Canaan
“Abram passed through the land to the place
of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.
And the Canaanites were then in the land.
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said,
‘To your descendants I will give this land.’
And there he built an altar to the Lord,
who had appeared to him.”
God reiterated His promise to Abraham in the land of Canaan. Amidst the presence of Canaanites, God gave His Word to Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land! In faith and in gratitude Abraham erected an altar to worship the Lord!
3. On the occasion of Lot separating himself from Abraham
“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had
separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and
look from the place where you are – northward,
southward, eastward, and westward; for all
the land which you see I give to you and your
descendants forever. And I will make your
descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if
a man could number the dust of the earth,
then your descendants also could be numbered.
Arise, walk in the land through its length and
its width, for I give it to you.'”
These references do not represent all the occasions when God reiterated His promise to bless Abraham and His descendants! The point that Matthew wanted to make in his introduction of Jesus as the “Son of Abraham” must not be lost! He wanted his (Jewish) readers to know that the God of Abraham was still vitally interested and involved in the lives of His people. Matthew had a dynamic faith in a great and faithful God. He sought to communicate this faith through his Gospel.