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The Marvelous Birth of the King

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2022 3:00 am

The Marvelous Birth of the King

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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November 8, 2022 3:00 am

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Jesus fulfilled every element of the royal decree of God. He is king in every sense. He is king by birth. He is king by decree. He is king by lineage. He is king by character. He is king by homage and worship. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. You probably know the basic details of your family tree. Perhaps you can trace your descendants back several generations, even hundreds of years.

Family trees can be fascinating, but for the most part, they have little impact on your social status. That was not so when Jesus was born. His genealogy determined where he lived, where he paid taxes, and the synagogue he belonged to. What's more, Jesus' ancestry shows that when he was born in Bethlehem, it was a royal birth. John MacArthur looks at that fascinating story today on Grace to You as he gets you thinking about the truths of Christmas before the busyness of the holiday season kicks in. So, with a fresh perspective on the marvelous birth of the king, here's John MacArthur. I want you to open your Bible to the first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, the first two chapters in the New Testament. They introduce us to the birth of the king.

It never ceases to be a story of wonder, a story of blessedness, a story of supernatural intervention. No matter how many times we go over the birth of Christ, it still captures our fascination, fills our hearts with joy. I'd like us to focus along with Matthew on the birth of the king, emphasizing the kingliness, the royalty of Jesus Christ.

That is Matthew's great intent. So, in the first two chapters, he focuses on the royal aspects of the birth of Christ, and that's what I'd like you to look at. First of all, in chapter 1, verses 1 through 17, we have the genealogy of Jesus.

That is, we have the line of descendants from Abraham down to the birth of Christ. This, Matthew wants us to understand, is his royal heritage. Anyone who is a king must have a royal heritage. A king has to have an authentic lineage. He must possess royal blood. In order to be fit to take the throne, he has to have been descendant from a long line of royalty.

And in fact, that is precisely true of Jesus. In Israel, the racial line of Jews came from Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Jewish people.

So racially, he would need to be a descendant of Abraham. Within the descendants of Abraham, the royal line began with David. And so, in order to have the pedigree of a king, in order to possess royal lineage, one would need to be a son of Abraham and a son of David.

The racial line was promised through Abraham in Genesis 12. The royal line was promised through David in 2 Samuel, chapter 7. And so, to qualify, Jesus needs to be son of Abraham, son of David.

And the genealogy begins with these words. Verse 1, the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. The most important two names in the genealogy are given first, Abraham for racial lineage and David for royal lineage. And then from verse 2, we have a more detailed presentation of that genealogy, starting with Abraham and moving right on down through David in verse 6, ultimately to Christ in verse 16.

And so, the Lord Jesus is son of Abraham, son of David. He fits the royal requirement. And in order to ascend to the throne, he needed to have that royal lineage. Now, the royal line here is the royal line that comes through to Christ. It is interesting that Matthew gives us his lineage through his father, Joseph. Luke gives us his lineage through his mother, Mary. You'll be interested to know that Mary also was descendant from David. She came through David's son, Nathan, who never reigned, but nonetheless was royal blood. So, from David through Nathan all the way down to Mary, there is royal blood. Mary is a descendant of David through his son Nathan, not to be confused with the prophet Nathan.

It is then through Mary, mark this, that Jesus is the real son of David. For Mary was his mother. He was born of a virgin. Joseph had no part in his birth. Joseph planted no seed in Mary's body.

It was planted by the Spirit of God. Mary alone was the source of his human birth. Therefore, it was essential that she also be out of the line of David, or he would have borne no royal blood. On the other hand, Joseph's line is the line of the legal right to the throne.

It always comes through the father. So, he had to have a father who also was a son of David, and not only a son of David, but a son of David through David's son Solomon. For it was through Solomon that the reigning line came. And so, Jesus received his royal blood from Mary and the legal right to the throne from Joseph. Even though Joseph had no part in his birth, because he was born to Joseph's wife, Mary, he then was the son of Joseph legally, and therefore bore the right to reign as king. It has been said that had there been a king, a rightful king in Israel in Palestine at the time of Joseph, it would have been Joseph. Joseph was the legal heir, so that the Matthew genealogy comes down through Joseph, because there is the legal right to the throne.

It comes from the father. Luke brings it through Mary, so that we know he has not only a legal right, but a real right, because he bears the blood of David. Notice in verse 16 the emphasis, to Jacob was born Joseph. This being a Jacob other than the familiar patriarch in the Old Testament, it's a common Jewish name.

We don't know anything about this man. But to Jacob was born Joseph, the husband of Mary by whom? That's in the feminine form in the Greek, referring only to Mary, by whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. Joseph is never in the Scripture called anything other than the husband of Mary. Never is Joseph called the father of Jesus, of whom is feminine. It refers only to Mary and emphasizes the virgin birth.

Now I want you to see something that's absolutely essential to understand. You will notice in verse 10 and 11 we have the flow of names. As you come to verse 11, it says, and to Josiah were born Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon, and it goes on from there. Now here in the middle of this lineage, this kingly line, this royal right to the throne, is a king born by the name of Jeconiah. Jeconiah was an evil man, also called Konaiah. He was an evil man. And in Jeremiah's prophecy, chapter 22 and verse 30, the word of the Lord says this about Jeconiah, write this man childless.

In what sense? A man who will not prosper in his days, for no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah. Now God said no son of Jeconiah will ever reign in Palestine, in Israel. No son will ever bear the throne of David. And yet Jeconiah is in the messianic line. How then can Jesus be the king if he does not come through the royal line of Jeconiah? And how can he be the king if the line of Jeconiah is cursed? That seemingly hopeless dilemma is resolved in the virgin birth. Through that line, Jesus received the legal right to the throne, but he was no blood child of Jeconiah, for that line was cursed and there could never be a child of Jeconiah on the throne of David. Therefore, Christ was born of a virgin. There was no taint of the blood of Jeconiah in him because he had no blood from Joseph in him either.

So in a marvelous working of God, the curse of Jeconiah is bypassed by bypassing Joseph in having Jesus born of a virgin. And yet it was essential that he be in the legal line of Jeconiah, for that was the line of David that had the right to the throne, every detail carried out with precision. So Matthew wants us to understand that Jesus has a genealogy that brings out the reality of his royalty. He is the authentic king, born to the kingly line, bypassing the curse of Jeconiah through the virgin birth.

So he has impeccable credentials. Now that is his royal heritage. Secondly, I want to talk about his royal nature, his royal character. A king is a king not only because of his royal lineage, but because of his nature, his character. And you see as you look even at the genealogy, that Jesus will be a king of grace. There's no question about it. He will be a king to whom sinners can go for pardon, forgiveness, and favor.

He will be a king to whom those who have violated his very law and despised his very name can go to seek forgiveness. How do we know that? It's bound up even in the genealogy.

May I show you why? Look at verse 16. It says that Jesus was born of Mary, of Mary. And here you have the choice of one woman out of the whole world in the line of David to be the mother of the king of kings and Lord of lords. And what is remarkable about this is that Mary was not without sin. Mary was not a perfect woman. She was not a sinless person. She was a sinner like all other men and women. She needed salvation from death and hell like all other men and women.

She was on her way to an eternity without God if she did not trust God, believe God, and embrace her own son, the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is evident from the New Testament record that Mary knew no special holiness, that she possessed no unique sanctification. From Mary's own lips in Luke 1.46, from her own lips in what is commonly known as her Magnificat, her song of praise, she speaks to God and this is what she says, my soul exalts the Lord.

Then verse 47, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. Mary is the Savior of nobody. Mary needs a Savior.

And she says God is my Savior. He is the one who delivers me from sin. And isn't it something that the King of kings and Lord of lords allowed a sinner to be his own earthly mother? Yes, he is a King of grace. And even before he's born, you see his grace as he arranges for his mother and chooses a sinner. The second aspect of his royalty that we see related to his graciousness, his character, his nature, comes not from one woman, but the choice of two men.

Back to verse 1. Son of David, son of Abraham. Now, if you know anything about Abraham, you know that Abraham was a sinful man. He was called the friend of God, and there were some marvelous things about Abraham. He was a man of great faith, eventually believing God.

But Abraham also was a man who was known by his sin. He lied blatantly and flagrantly about his own wife when he was in Egypt. He doubted the power of God. He committed adultery because he didn't believe God could really give him a child. So he went in and had a relationship with his own handmaid out of wedlock and produced Ishmael, a cursed child in many ways.

Abraham was a sinful man, liar, doubter, and adulterer. His son Isaac, who came also in the Messianic succession, was a great disappointment. The story of Isaac is a story of weakness.

It's a story of disappointment. It's a story of a man who basically failed to do the work of God. Abraham yet was the source, humanly, of the Messiah. And God's grace is seen again in the choice of Abraham.

How about David? David, though he was a man after God's own heart, was also a man who was well known for his sin. He lived a life of appalling sin. He was a bloody man, many battles, many massacres, many deaths. He sowed seeds of dissipation by marrying many women. He was a horrendous excuse for a father losing his children and allowing them to fall into dissipation, evil, and even rebellion. He was exceedingly sinful in his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.

He played the fool one time because he doubted God and acted as if he was insane to try to escape from a circumstance he thought God was unable to deliver him out of. And then not only is there one woman and two men, but there are three eras given here. This genealogy has three sections of 14 names, period number one, patriarchs and judges, period number two, the monarchy, period number three, from the captivity in Babylon to the coming of Christ.

All of these times, times of mixed pathos and glory, times of heroism and disgrace, times of men of renown and men of obscurity. But one thing we see in all these lists is these were all sinful men who lived in sinful times, and yet they were chosen to be a part of the Messiah's line. So whether you're talking about the one woman who was his mother, the two men who stand out in the genealogy, or the three eras of history, all of them point to the grace of the king, who even though he's not born yet shows his grace in the choice of those who are his ancestors. But it comes through even more clearly in one final look at four outcasts, four outcasts, four sinful women for whom God provided grace. There are four women in the genealogy that are just remarkable by their inclusion. The first one is in verse 3. Back into that patriarchal period, a woman by the name of Tamar, it says in verse 3, to Judah were born Peres and Zera by Tamar.

You have to understand from Genesis 38, if you get a chance to read that, read it carefully. Tamar committed incest, and Peres and Zera born to Tamar were born out of incest, the ugly, gross, vile evil of incest. She was guilty of harlotry, guilty of incest, gave birth to two sons, born out of incest.

Not only is she in the line, but so are her two sons. Now that'll tell you something about the grace of God. Then you will notice in verse 5, to Salomon was born Boaz by Rahab. A man named Salomon married a Canaanite woman, really, a pagan woman by the name of Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute who ran a brothel in Jericho.

If you read carefully the account of Joshua chapter 2, you will read about Rahab who came to believe in the true God and hid the spies who were spying out Jericho. But she was a prostitute by profession, and yet she is included in the messianic line. She is given the privilege of giving birth to Boaz who is really a pattern of the Redeemer himself. Then there is a third woman in the genealogy, verse 5 again, Ruth. Ruth again was a Moabites. The Moabite people had come out of incest as a people.

The whole people were cursed. And here this woman out of a cursed people, this pagan woman, this idolatrous woman, comes into the line, marries the kinsman Redeemer Boaz, and becomes the great grandmother of David. So God takes two prostitutes and a pagan idolatrous cursed Moabite and puts them in the messianic line. And then amazingly in verse 6, and to Jesse was born David the king, and to David was born Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

Who is that? Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 11, the adulterous. Two prostitutes, a cursed Moabite and an adulterous. Yet she's the mother of Solomon, wife of David.

Incredible. The grace of God in choosing one woman, in choosing those two most significant men, in choosing the people in those three eras, and in choosing the four outcasts. Indeed a king of grace. Royal lineage, royal nature. Thirdly, and just briefly on this one, verse 18 and following instructs us regarding his royal birth. He had a right to be king by lineage. He had the character to be king.

He was gracious. And now we see he has the power to be king because of the unique birth. Now the birth of Jesus Christ, verse 18 says, was as follows. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, that means to be engaged, but before they came together, that is before the hupah, the ceremony, the consummation physically of their union, she was found to be with child.

He had his worst fears realized, the shock of all shocks. This young girl Mary must have been the most beautiful of young women in terms of character. This would have been something Joseph never in a million years would have imagined could be true, but in his betrothal period before they have come together, he discovers that she in fact is going to have a child. The child is placed in her womb by the Holy Spirit, but initially Joseph does not know that. And so it says in verse 19, Joseph her husband being a just or righteous man, a man of integrity and not wanting to disgrace her, desire to divorce her secretly. But before he could go about doing it, verse 20 says, when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph son of David, there's the emphasis of Matthew again, to show you that if there had been a king in Palestine at that time, it would have been Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

And she will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus for it is he who will save his people from their sins. Joseph arose from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, took her as his wife. Note this and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son and he called his name Jesus. He had no relationship to her at all until that child was born so that that child was never thought or assumed to be the child of Joseph. She was a virgin until the child was born. By the way, that also says after the child was born, she was no longer a virgin.

That's the intent of the original language. And for people to advocate the perpetual permanent virginity of Mary is to deny what that text very clearly says. So Matthew says he is a king by royal heritage, he is a king by royal nature, he is a king by royal birth. Fourthly, he is a king by royal worship. And Matthew goes into that in chapter two.

We don't have time to fully develop this, but I'd like to give you a little bit of background briefly. Verse one. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king.

And by the way, we don't know how long after, some time after though. Perhaps by this time the young couple and the child were living in a house rather than in the stable. They had found a place to accommodate them.

Some time has passed. And behold, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem. Now notice verse two. Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? It's as if they're saying we're on a search for a king and we want to check this one out. We believe this to be the king we're looking for. We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. No king they ever saw in the past had his own star. This was some king. What I want you to notice particularly is that when the Magi arrived, verse 11, they came into the house.

Again, we remind ourselves the time has elapsed and they're now in a house, not a stable. Saw the child with Mary his mother, they fell down and worshiped him. Now there is the indication that these non-Jewish king makers from the east acknowledged that this is the promised Messiah.

And the people of Israel missed what these Gentiles saw. They worshiped him. And lastly, Matthew wants us to know that he is king by royal decree. Not just these things, but he was decreed to be the king by God himself.

God, who is his royal father, has so decreed. God said when the king comes he will be born of a virgin. When he comes he will be born in Bethlehem. When he comes he will come out of Egypt. When he comes there will be a massacre that causes weeping of women for their killed children.

And when he comes he will take up his residence in a place called Nazareth in order to be called a Nazarene. Jesus fulfilled every element of the royal decree of God. He is king in every sense. He is king by birth. He is king by decree. He is king by lineage. He is king by character. He is king by homage and worship. Jenny Hussie many years ago in the hymn so familiar to us wrote these words which give us the proper response. King of my life I crown thee now.

Thine shall the glory be. That's John MacArthur, chancellor of the master's university and seminary, looking at the royal heritage and the birth of Jesus. It's part of John's current study here on Grace to You titled The Best of Christmas. You know, John, I've been listening to you for 40 years talking about Christmas and a true understanding of Christmas, what it means, what the birth of Christ means biblically, and we've put it on Grace to You many times over the years. And at Christmas time, this season of giving, it's still clear that many people by and large don't know much about the one gift that started it all. Darrell Bock I think that's true because for one thing, the culture has become much more secularized.

There's less and less and less biblical knowledge, biblical understanding. There are caricatures of Jesus rather than real understanding, even of the narrative of the true Christmas story. Darrell Bock Yeah, if he's mentioned at all.

Darrell Bock Yeah, yeah. We're dealing with a really seriously secular culture, especially the younger people coming up, the millennials and people behind them. So it's almost as if we have to introduce this entire generation of people to the Christ of Christmas, and that's exactly what we want to do. So I want to mention a book, God's Gift of Christmas.

There is no more important thing to know than that the Son of God came into the world to die in our place, to rise for our justification, and to provide forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe in Him. And that is the point of His arrival at Christmas. So the book, God's Gift of Christmas, examines the most encouraging truths and realities about His coming.

These things certainly get lost in the current culture and its secular celebration of this holiday. It's the kind of a book that could actually become a family tradition. You can read it in the days leading up to Christmas to help you focus on the things that you need to be looking at.

Some people use Advent calendars. We like using this little book. Also, a resource you want to give to unbelievers now in the days leading up to Christmas, beautifully designed, and it will draw them in.

I promise you that. The truth inside will make them think. It's a compact hardcover book, 120 pages available from grace to you, and as always, affordably priced. Just ask for the book, God's Gift of Christmas.

Right. Friend, this little book explains the profound truth behind the holiday we celebrate, helping you see the depth of Christ's glory. To order God's Gift of Christmas, contact us today. Call 800-55-GRACE or go to

Again, God's Gift of Christmas would be an ideal resource to go through with your family to help you all stay focused on Christ this holiday season. And this book is an excellent tool for evangelism. To place your order, call 800-55-GRACE or shop online at

That's our website, And when you visit there, make sure to take advantage of the thousands of free resources available, including GraceStream. That's a nonstop broadcast of John's verse-by-verse teaching through the entire New Testament. We begin at Matthew 1 and go all the way through Revelation 22, and then we repeat the stream. It takes about two months to do it, so log on to GraceStream and be encouraged by God's word around the clock. Again, you'll find GraceStream at Also, if you could remember to pray for John and the people hearing this verse-by-verse teaching, we would be grateful. Your prayers power this ministry. Now, for John MacArthur and the staff, I'm Phil Johnson, inviting you to be here at the same time tomorrow when John looks at profound truths of the Christmas story that you might have missed. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-08 08:01:45 / 2022-11-08 08:07:36 / 6

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