"Hail to the Lord's Anointed, Great David's greater Son! Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun! He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free, To take away transgression, And rule in equity.
"O'er ev'ry foe victorious, He on His throne shall rest, From age to age more glorious, All blessing and all-blest. The tide of time shall never His covenant remove; His Name shall stand forever—That Name to us is Love."
When reading the Gospel of Matthew, we may be tempted to skim, or skip entirely, the genealogy in the first chapter. Some of the names are familiar such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Other names are not so well-known, and many are difficult to pronounce! We should not ignore these important names, because these people so carefully listed in Matthew's Gospel are members of Jesus' human family, the ancestors of "great David's greater Son." Jesus' family tree includes patriarchs and kings, yet all of them were sinners. Behind the names are stories of heroic faith as well as of unfaithful behavior, stories of lies, adultery, and murder.
Our own personal histories include faithful trust in God's promises as well as our own daily failures to follow His Word and will. Our hymn celebrates the redeeming work and mighty reign of Jesus, the sinless Son of David and Son of God, who came to set us free from our sins. The genealogy in the Gospel begins with Abraham, to whom God said, "in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 28:14b). This promise, made to patriarchs and kings, was handed down from generation to generation. The prophets announced the coming of the Messiah, in whom the promise would be fulfilled. That title, "Messiah," in Hebrew, in Greek is the "Christ"; it means "the Anointed." In fulfillment of His promise and "in the time appointed," God sent His Son, Jesus, who was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord "to proclaim liberty to the captives" (Isaiah 61:1). The sinless Son of God was born among sinners to suffer the penalty of death deserved by sinners, in order "to take away transgression" and free all who are captive to sin, death, and Satan. Jesus, the Lord's Anointed, suffered, died, and was buried. On the first Easter morning, He was raised up from death and exalted to rule at the right hand of God. The son of Mary and Son of God reigns now "o'er ev'ry foe victorious."
Among Jesus' ancestors was Israel's great King David, who also reigned victorious over every foe, having received from God "rest from all his surrounding enemies" (2 Samuel 7:1b). God promised David that one of his offspring would be raised up as a King whose throne would endure forever (see 2 Samuel 7:12-13). In fulfillment of the promise to his ancestor, Jesus, the Son of David, reigns, "from age to age more glorious." Jesus, whose Name we love, shed His blood on the cross to fulfill God's eternal covenant: "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:34b).
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Son of David, forgive my sins and reign as King in my life. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Hail to the Lord's Anointed," which is found on page 398 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. If you've studied your family tree, did anything surprise you in its branches?
2. Can you give an example or two where the Bible focuses on people's backgrounds and ancestry?
3. Faith in Jesus as Savior makes one a child of God. Can you describe what God's family is like?
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