LIFE OF THE MESSIAH – 001
DR. ARNOLD G. FRUCHTENBAUM
THE INTRODUCTION OF THE KING - Paragraphs 1-4
As I stated the title of this course primarily is The Life of the Messiah with a subtitle, From a Jewish Perspective. Generally speaking in most Christian schools that happen to be a Bible Institute or a Bible College or a seminary, whenever the professor or textbook begins to deal with historical backgrounds of the Gospels, the New Testaments studies, there will invariably deal only with the Greek and Roman backgrounds. That’s very helpful for certain segments of the New Testament, like the latter part of Acts, like Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, and so on.
The life of Jesus does not play itself out within the framework of a Greek or Roman culture but a Jewish culture and only a specific type of Jewish culture, that of first century Israel. And so throughout the four Gospels things are said the way they are said, things happen the way they happen, they’re written the way they are written because of specific Jewish frame of reference and Jewish background. The knowledge of that Jewish background was always available, it was never lost, but about the fourth century the larger church simply chose to ignore it; as a result in church history there were a lot of different divisions occur, church wars were fought, denominations split and so on, of phrases like “to be born of water.” Now we’ll see in the study that being “born of water” has very specific Jewish meaning, but somebody somewhere back then forgot to ask a Jew what it meant and we have suddenly a brand new denomination based upon that one phrase alone. And do in the study as we survey all four Gospels using in A. T. Robertson’s Harmony we are going to specifically focus on the Jewish frame of reference for a better understanding of what these passages are dealing with.
Two things are relevant to this course that will be good for you to have, first of all is a copy of A. T. Robertson’s A Harmony of the Gospels; the advantage of this is that he has the parallel Gospels in column form so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth between the Gospels; it’s all on the same page. And the second thing you need is this particular outline that I put together that is based upon A. T. Robertson’s Harmony and we’ll be going through this in that manner.
Now I think (?) introductory material for now is there are two basic ways to approach the life of the Messiah; a more common way to approach it will be called the geographical approach. In the geographical approach they simply, after the birth narratives, they go and divide his life into various divisions of the land where He was. You’ll read about the greater Galilean ministry, the later Perean ministry, and the later Galilean, the early Judean, later Judean, Jerusalem and so on, and that is a valid way to approach His life but the limitations of that approach is that what you have is a series of events or teachings individually before you get to His final week when the atonement was made and what you fail to see it the correlation of one event to another one, (?) to another and A. T. Robertson, when he put this Harmony together uses that same geographical approach. If you look at his outline, say Roman numeral page 11, he talks about the beginning of the beginning of the public ministry, the great Galilean ministry, the ministry around the districts of Galilee, the Judean ministry, the Perean ministry, Jerusalem ministry, and so on. So he put his Harmony together based upon the geographical approach to the life of the Messiah.
Now I’ve given you a different outline that is based upon the thematic approach. The thematic theme we’re dealing with is called Jesus, The Messianic King. After the two introductory points of material, we divide His life into ten divisions. And in this outline you have the ten part division used upon Roman numerals. And as we go through it that way we’ll see the correlation between one event, one teaching, and so on. Look at the board, what you’ll see is that the outline is divided into ten main divisions, major life divisions will be ten divisions; then you will have subdivisions, the capital A’s and then the subdivisions, the 1, then the small a, and so on, following the normal outline format. And the outline doesn’t give you verses; it gives you paragraph numbers and the paragraph numbers are based upon the paragraph divisions of A. T. Robertson’s Harmony. So when I make references I’ll say paragraph 1, paragraph 2, paragraph 3, and that’s the way we’ll be following things.
Now periodically in the upper left hand corner you’ll see a number because Ariel Ministries has produced about one hundred ninety some manuscripts and a lot of these have to do with life of Messiah, about… I’d say at least a third if not more of the material we’ll be covering in these three weekends is in manuscript form and so if you’re interested in pursuing it in manuscript study you can jot down the numerical number for that area and then you can get the material from Ariel Ministries.
1. The Sources of Knowledge (Luke’s Prologue)
Paragraph 1 - Luke 1:1-4
Now with this introduction let’s go ahead and begin by turning to the first paragraph which covers Luke 1:1-4 and here we have on your outline the first of two points of introductory material which is Luke’s prologue, which He provides us with the source of knowledge. Let’s try to envision a circle; inside the circle is everything that Jesus ever said or did. Yeshua that you see on here would be His Hebrew name. Everything He ever did, everything He ever said from the moment He was conceived until His ascension is within this circle. As John points out at the end of his Gospel it would have been impossible for anyone to be able to sit down and write down everything that Jesus said or taught. John says the world cannot contain the books that would then need to be written. So what we have to note is that the four Gospel writers were selective as to what they chose to report, and what they chose to report and what they chose to leave out was based upon their own individual themes. And while the main theme of all four Gospels is Jesus, the Messianic King, at the same time they each have their own separate individual themes that we’ll mention.
For example, we have Matthew coming along and Matthew has a specific theme. As he looks inside the circle and looks at event A, and event A does somehow portray the point he wants to make and so he does record it into his account. He then looks at event B and B doesn’t really do anything for what Matthew wants to develop and so he simply chooses not to report on event B and that’s left out of his Gospel. He looks at event C and like event A it also portrays what he wants to show in his Gospel; he does add that to his Gospel so Matthew you have A and C recorded. Then Mark comes along and he has a different theme he wants to record; he looks at event A and while event A was helpful for Matthew it’s not helpful for Mark so Mark chose to ignore event A that Matthew recorded. He looks at event B and while B was not helpful to Matthew it is helpful to Mark and so Mark takes B and records it into his Gospel. He looks at event C and while C was helpful to Matthew it also happens to be helpful to Mark and so he also records C into his Gospel. While both Matthew and Mark report event C the way they chose to record it and they way they report on it will be a bit different based upon the theme they want to develop. They never contradict each other; they simply fill in different blanks that other writers simply chose to leave out because it was not helpful to the theme they were trying to develop. But again, the Gospel writers all have to be somewhat selective as to what they would choose to record and not record.
Now with that background let’s talk about the different themes of each Gospel and we’ll begin with the theme of Matthew. Matthew’s theme is Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, the King of the Jews. And Matthew’s Gospel is written specifically to a Jewish audience. Now these Gospels are written to meet specific needs of specific peoples and because the first believers were all Jewish believers it would be natural for the first need to arise among Jewish believers to have such a Gospel. Now as we look in the book of Acts initially the Messianic community stayed in Jerusalem and had direct access to the apostles. And so if they wished to know what a Jew would say about this or that then an apostle could tell them because of firsthand knowledge. With the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, that caused a dispersion of the Messianic community in Acts 8 and while the apostles remained in Jerusalem many of their sheep are now scattered in different parts of the Middle East, going into Syria, going into what is now Lebanon, and so on. And so they needed to have an authoritative source for the life of the Messiah and Matthew provides them with that issue.
Now Matthew writes with a specific theme and his theme, as I mentioned, is Yeshua the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and he has to explain why if Jesus really was the Messiah, why was not the Kingdom set up. That’s the very same objection you’ll hear among Jewish people today when you witness to them: if Jesus was the Messiah, where is the Messianic Kingdom, where is world peace. In fact they’ll point out we’ve had more wars since He came than before He came. And so Matthew has to explain why the Messianic Kingdom was not set up at this point of time and he will especially trace in as much detail as he can the Messianic program and the Messianic Kingdom program, and explaining why Jesus, though the Messiah, (?) the Messianic Kingdom was not set up at that point of time. And so his purpose is to show that Jesus was that Messianic King, to show why the Kingdom is not set up, to explain the Kingdom program. He also writes in light of impending judgment; the judgment of AD 70 was coming on soon, a judgment Jesus predicted on more than one occasion. And so he’s writing to give them the necessary warnings about this coming impending judgment.
Now we come to Mark and Mark’s theme is Jesus, the Messiah, the servant of Jehovah, and Mark writes for the Romans. Now the Roman culture of that day, the ideal Roman was someone who could receive a command and quickly carry it out and come back and say the mission was accomplished. And so designed since he’s writing to Romans Mark presents Jesus as the ideal servant, one who receives a commission and He quickly carries the commission out. Over forty times he uses a Greek word that is translated either as straightway, immediately, or forthwith… straightway, immediately, or forthwith over forty times, there’s a sense of urgency to get the mission done. And while he’s presenting Jesus in a way that would communicate to Roman mindset of that day he does not fail to deal with the Jewish background. In the background that he bases this concept on is the servant of Jehovah passages of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah’s favorite title for the Messiah was “the servant of Jehovah,” or “the servant of the Lord.” And using that motif and quoting it at certain times, like Isaiah 53, he presents Jesus, the ideal servant carrying out the mission He was called upon to perform.
Now Luke’s theme is Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of Man, and he writes for the Greeks. The Greeks were famous for two things; first of all, they were very historically minded. Our earliest histories that we have of ancient writings comes from Greek sources. Much of our knowledge of Egyptian history doesn’t come from Egyptian records but from Greek records. And so the Greeks were very much interested in a correct chronological sequence of historical events. The second thing in the Greek culture was the concept of the ideal man and the ideal man was the man that was fully self-disciplined both mentally and physically, and could carry out deep thinking and could carry out great activities. The Olympic Games were innovated with that concept of the Greek mindset.
And Luke is writing specifically for the Greek culture of that day to meet both kinds of needs. Look at Luke 1:1 for example, “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us,  Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;  It seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first,” notice two things he points out. First of all, Luke was not an eyewitness to the events of the life of Jesus. He was not an eyewitness; he came to the Lord later in Paul’s ministry. Furthermore, he also points out, secondly, there are already narratives available; there are already books out, or scrolls out dealing with His life written by eyewitnesses. So the fact that there are already eyewitness accounts available, the fact that he himself was not an eyewitness, why did he feel the necessity to put his own life of Messiah together? That comes out in verse 3, “having traced the course of all things accurately from the first to write unto you in order,” and the Greek word for order here is chronological order. The Greek for order here is a chronological order; it deals with the correct sequence of historical events.
And so while Matthew, Mark and John write in their Gospels, they may not necessarily put their material in strict chronological sequence; that was not important for them. And so while Matthew may record the event A and event C, in reality C might have come before event A. And so whenever there is a disagreement between Matthew and Luke, Mark and Luke, and John and Luke concerning all of the events, the one we follow is Luke’s order, because he alone claims to have put the material in chronological sequence; the other writers made no such claim; and that’s his main contribution. And A. T. Robertson largely follows Luke’s order, and when he follows Luke’s order stay with him. Now and then we’ll see he breaks Luke’s order; when he violates the order that Luke gave us then I go back to Luke’s order and I rearrange his Harmony based upon the order that Luke presents for us. And we’ll see some examples of this as we proceed through the Gospel events. So he writes for the historically minded Greek to give us a chronological sequence; he (?) the ideal man, totally self-disciplined both mentally and physically. He does use eyewitness accounts; he probably used both Matthew and Mark. He lived for two years in the land of Israel when Paul was in prison, that would have access to eyewitness people like even Mary, as we see from the Gospel, he reveals certain that only Mary would know about.
He also shows concern for three specific areas. First of all he shows concern for Jerusalem. He records events about Jerusalem, the teachings of Jesus about Jerusalem that were not recorded by Matthew, Mark or John. A second major concern is the concern for Gentiles. And he will also record things about the Gentiles that were not recorded by the other Gospel writers. He came to the Lord through the ministry of the apostle Paul, he traveled with Paul for a while, he even left Paul’s concern and Paul’s calling for Gentile evangelism. The third concern that he shows is a special concern for women. He will find things to record about the life of women and their role in the life of Jesus and other elements about women that the other Gospel writers chose not to record. So these are Luke’s three main concerns: Jerusalem, Gentiles and women, and I’ll bring these out as we go through the course.
Now the fourth gospel is the Gospel of John and his theme is the Messiah, the Son of God, and as Luke emphasized the humanity of the Messiah, John emphasized the deity of the Messiah. And he writes largely for the church at large. And he has definitely an evangelistic purpose; on the one hand he shows believers all that Jesus taught; he also has an evangelistic purpose by recording the signs of Jesus to get the reader to come to believe that Jesus is that Messianic person. By the time John writes his Gospel Matthew, Mark and Luke have written and they already had a wide circulation. So his main concern is to record things that Matthew, Mark and Luke left out. And he’s far more interested in the things that Jesus said and taught than what He did while Mark’s Gospel is far more concerned with the actions of Jesus in keeping with the Roman mindset, the Gospel of John is much more concerned with what Jesus said and taught. In his Gospel we have sermons and we have messages, we have teachings that are not found in the other three Gospel accounts.
Now while the main theme of his Gospel is Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, he’s got these two sub themes that run throughout the Gospel. The first sub theme is the conflict of light and darkness… the conflict of light and darkness, this comes out several times in his Gospel account and if I was teaching only the Gospel of John I would make more of it as we through it but since we’re teaching the life of Messiah in all four Gospels I will simply point out where you’ll find this conflict and contrast; I will not be developing it in this course but I shall at least point out where it is, you can develop it on your own.
The second sub theme is that He came for the purpose of teaching about the Father to humanity; He came to teach about the Father to men. And that’s why John will spend more time on what He said than what He taught. And it is because of that sub theme that John alone records the incident where the disciple asked Him, “show us the Father,” and Messiah said “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Everything true about the divine nature of the Father is true of the Son, therefore to know the Son is to know the Father. And that will be a second sub theme: the conflict of light and darkness and He came to teach about the Father to men.
One more thing about John’s Gospel is that he liked to work around the number seven with three sets of sevens: seven signs; seven discourses, and seven I AM’s. Seven signs, seven discourses, seven statements of “I AM,” I AM this, I AM that. And as we go through the Gospels I’ll point out what the seven signs are, what the seven discourses are, what the seven I AM’s are.
2. The Pre-existence of the Messiah (John’s Prologue)
Paragraph 2 - John 1:1-18
Let’s go on to paragraph 2 which cover’s John’s introduction in John 1. In John 1:1-18 we have John’s prologue; John’s introduction is a (?) of the Messiah and the focus of John here is to point out the pre-existence of the Messiah. Luke’s concern (?) was the source of the knowledge about the life, but John’s prologue is to emphasize the pre-existence of the Messiah, because nobody knew Him before He became human.
Now in John 1:1 he says, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word with God, and the Word was God.” And as many of you know, the word that he used here is the Greek word Logos. Because he often used the word Logos most commentaries on John at this point go through a lengthy dissertation to try to explain what Logos meant in terms of Greek philosophy. They may take a few pages to say it or many pages to say it; in the end they end up saying the same thing. The Greek philosophy the Logos had two concepts; these were the concept of reason and the concept of speech. And they’re not letting us know that that in Greek philosophy the Logos had these two concepts of reason and speech, what these commentators try to do is to claim that what John is trying to show is how he came to fulfill the goals of Greek philosophy in both areas of reason and speech, in that by reason He was the very idea of God, and that by speech he was the very expression of God. Now pick up almost any commentary on John and that’s essentially what you will read. What these commentators forget is that by profession John was not a Greek philosopher, he was a Jewish fisherman. What he has in mind is not so much Greek philosophy but Jewish theology of first century Israel.
Now because of the way the term “word” was used throughout the Old Testament, the rabbis began to develop a theological concept in studying the concept of “the word.” The Hebrew word is dabar; when you see the “word” used in the Old Testament text it’s often personified, carrying out a commission or a mission. For example, in Genesis 15:1, Genesis 15:1 it’s referred to as a revealer, and the “word” is personified as a revealer. In Psalm 33:4-6 it’s the agent of creation; God spoke the “word” and what He spoke would come into existence. In Psalm 147:15 the “word” moves swiftly to carry our God’s purpose. Isaiah 9:8, the Lord sent the “word” into Jacob to accomplish a specific mission. Isaiah 55:10-11 points out the “word” comes and goes. Isaiah 45:23 the “word” goes out in righteousness. One more example is Ezekiel 1:3, the “word” came expressly to the prophet.
So based upon how the “word” was personified, the rabbis developed a concept called the Memra, and the word Memra is an Aramaic term. It is the Aramaic term for the Hebrew dabar; in Greek it comes out as Logos in English it comes out as word. And so dabar is Hebrew; and Memra is Aramaic; that became the theological term; Logos is Greek and of course “word” is English.
Now what the rabbis ended up teaching about the Memra are six specific things and all six things come up one way or another in these first 18 verses of John’s Gospel. First of all, sometimes the rabbis said the Memra was distinct from God; sometimes it was the same as God. In all their eyes they would try to explain this paradox away, how is it possible for the Memra, the word, the Logos to be distinct from God and yet be God at the same time. They simply made both statements being true and left it there, which is what John does here in John 1:1. When he says, “the Word (Logos) was with God,” he makes Him distinct from God, and then he says “the Word was God,” making Him the same as God. Like the rabbis at this stage, notice John does not try to explain the paradox away. He makes both statements being true and leaves it there for now. Unlike the rabbis he will explain this later in terms of the tri-unity. The one he is writing about is distinct from God because He is not God the Father, nor is He God the Holy Spirit but He is the same as God because He is God the Son. Only in terms of the Trinity can (?) paradox finally be explained.
The second thing about the Memra is the Memra is the agent of creation and again, when God created anything He did so by means of His Memra, by means of His Word, based upon passages like Genesis 1. God would simply speak, “Let there be,” three words in English but only one word in Hebrew; whatever He said “Let there be” would come into existence. So everything that we see in this universe exists only because of the Memra; without the Memra nothing would exist which now does exist. Then look at John 1: 3, “All things were made through Him; and without Him was not anything made that had been made.” Here he points out the same thing is true of John’s Logos, everything was made through this One, without this One nothing would exist which now does exist and so He’s also the agent of creation.
Thirdly, He’s also the agent of salvation. Whenever God saved throughout the history of the Old Testament, whether it was a physical salvation, like the Exodus, or a spiritual salvation of eternal life He always saved by means of the Memra, by means of the Word. So again the Memra was the agent of salvation. Now look at John 1:12, “As many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Here John points out that those who believe on this One, those who receive Him, they’re the ones who receive salvation because He is also the agent of salvation.
The fourth thing about the Memra, the Memra was the means by which God takes on visible form. Now and then in the history of the Old Testament God took on some kind of a visible form, a visible thing. Whenever He became visible, whatever form it may have been, it was by means of the Memra or by means of the Word. Again, it’s the means which God takes on visible form.
Now in Christian theology we call these manifestations a theophany. And when Christian authors talk about a theophany they’re from these visible manifestations of God’s presence. The rabbis had a different term to say the same thing the rabbinic term was Shechinah, Shechinah, often coupled with God’s glory so you find the two words coupled together, the “Shechinah glory of God.” And (?) definition the Shechinah glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God… the visible manifestation of the presence of God. And so whenever God became visible, the invisible God became visible, whenever His omnipresence was localized, this visible localized presence was the Shechinah, the Shechinah glory. And so most of Old Testament history He came either as a light or fire or could: light, fire, cloud, sometimes a combination of these three things. Whenever it came it came it came by means of the Memra, by means of the Word. So again the Memra was the means by which God takes on visible form.
Look at John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh,” the Word, the Logos that back in verse 1 was “in the beginning” with God, who always was God, now at a certain point in history takes on visible form. But this time what became visible was not the intangible light, fire, or cloud; this time He came in tangible flesh, He became human, He became man. And then he says, “He dwelt among us,” in your Harmony notice that the word “dwell” has number 9 by it and the number tells you look at the footnote from a literal Greek rendering. And what the Greek really reads is not to dwell but to tabernacle. Literally it says: “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Because John does not use the normal Greek word for dwelling in verse 14, he uses a totally different Greek word, which is not so much a true Greek word but it’s a parallel word to the Hebrew Shechinah, and the meaning of it is to tabernacle.
Now when the Greeks came in contact with the Jewish world after the conquest of Alexander the Great, they came across the word Shechinah. They liked what the word conveyed, and they wished to incorporate some of its meanings into the Greek language. In other words, it was already in Greek but it had now new connotations. But the Greek had one small problem. In Hebrew we have one letter by which we can make the “shaw” sound. English has to combine two letters, s and h, to make the shaw sound; in German they combine three letters to make the shaw sound, but in Hebrew one is sufficient. But in Greek you cannot combine any number of letters to make the shaw sound. Greek has a hard “s” that can say ssss; they cannot say shhh, that’s why Greeks are always so much nosier and louder than we Jews and gave us headaches throughout Jewish history. That’s why it belongs to Hanukah which was last month so I won’t deal with it right now. But it is simply to take the concept and you have the Greek word skeini and skeini is simply the same as the Hebrew Shechinah with the “s” sound hardened. For example, maybe you know the word “Hosanna” from the New Testament. The Hosanna is simply the Hellenized Hebrew word Hoshanna. Hoshanna became Hosanna in Greek with the “s” sound hardened just as Shechinah became skeini.
As your footnote tells you in the Harmony it does not mean to develop but to tabernacle …because the origin of the word Shechinah goes back to the book of Exodus 40. In Exodus 40 the Shechinah took its form in the cloud took up residency within the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle. For the next several centuries it tabernacled with the people of Israel and it continued with the people of Israel until it finally departed from Israel in the days of Ezekiel. Ezekiel chapters 8-11 records the four stage departure of the Shechinah glory from Israel. After about six centuries of absence, the Shechinah has returned, not in the form of light, fire or cloud but in the form of flesh and once again tabernacled with the people of Israel. Like the rabbis, notice how quickly John connects this with God’s glory. He goes on to say, “And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Normally the Shechinah glory has the brightness about it, it tends to exude light. But the physical body of the Messiah was like a veil. It veiled the brightness of His glory. While people looked upon Him in the first century Israel, He looked no different than any other Jewish male of first century Israel. One time during His public ministry the light came through. We call it the Transfiguration, something we will look at later on in our study. The light came through the veil (?) His clothing making him exceptionally light. His face began to shine with the brightness of the sun and three men saw the brightness of His glory. Among those three was the author of these words, John. Notice he writes like an eyewitness and “we” (me and two other men) “we beheld His glory.” That was something they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. So just as the Memra was the means by which God took on visible form, the same thing happens to be true here of John’s Logos.
Now the fifth thing about the Memra, the Memra was the means by which God signs His covenants. We read of eight different covenants in the Old Testament that God makes. Now, three of these are made with humanity in general. Five were made specifically with the Jewish people. All were signed and sealed by the Memra; therefore the Memra is also covenant signer.
Now John 1:17 says: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Now the age of Dispensation of the Law was based upon the Mosaic Covenant signed and sealed by the Shechinah Glory back in the book of Exodus 24:1-11. The new age of the Dispensation of Grace will be based upon the New Covenant which He will sign or seal by the shedding of His blood. And so when He died on the cross He signed, He sealed, He ratified the New Covenant according to Hebrews chapters 8 through 10. Therefore that makes Him a covenant signer. The (?) about the Memra is also the agent of revelation. Whenever God revealed Himself He did so by means of the Memra, by means of the Word, based upon those passages that say the Word of God came to this one; the Word of the Lord came to that one. So indeed He was also the One through whom the knowledge of God came.
Now John 1:18 says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him,” has revealed Him. Now John points out the same thing is true about his Logos. This One came to reveal the Father to men. As we pointed out earlier, that’s why John has a second sub theme. He came to reveal the nature of the Father. That’s why there are more sermons and teachings here. The same point is made by Hebrews 1:1-3; in the past God revealed Himself in many different ways, “has in these last days” revealed Himself by means of the Son; He’s the agent of revelation. So John’s point in these 18 verses is not that He came to fulfill the goals of Greek philosophy; He came to fulfill the goals of the Messianic hope. The 6 things the rabbis were teaching about the Memra are true of Jesus of Nazareth.
We can summarize what he says here in four simple points. First of all the Memra, the Logos, the Word, came in the visible form. Secondly, sadly the world in general did not recognize him. Thirdly and more tragic, his own Jewish people did not recognize Him either. The fourth thing, those individual Jews and Gentiles who did recognize Him, they became the children of the Lord, the children of God, the children of the Shechinah light, and received their salvation and was the agent of salvation. Here’s one example, if we get behind the Jewish frame of reference we will see many more of these as well; we’ll see why things are written the way they are written.
I. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE KING
A. The Arrival of the King, Paragraphs 3-19
1. The Genealogy of the King – Paragraph 3, Matthew 1; Luke 3
Now we come to Roman numeral I, the first main division of the life of the Messiah, the introduction of the King that covers paragraphs 3 through 27 in A. T. Roberson’s Harmony. We come to paragraph 2 which deals with the genealogy of the Messiah as found in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. Now of the four Gospel accounts, only two give us the account of the birth narratives - Matthew and Luke. Both Mark and John begin their accounts with Jesus already an adult. Because only Matthew and Luke give us the birth narratives would be also why they provide us with the genealogies. The genealogies deal with origins so people who were born knew where they came from.
Now we have these two accounts of the birth narratives that are told from two different perspectives. Matthew tells the story from Joseph’s perspective so if you read his Gospel, Joseph plays the active role; Mary plays the passive role. Angels come to Joseph, not Mary. Matthew tells us what he is thinking, not a word about what she is thinking.
Luke tells the same story, but he tells it from her perspective; everything was reversed. Mary plays the active role; Joseph plays the passive one. An angel comes to her not to him. Luke tells us what she is thinking, what is going on in her mind, not a word about what he is thinking. So you go by those two genealogies alone, just by the context alone, that would indicate that Matthew’s genealogy is that of Joseph because he tells the story from Joseph’s perspective. The genealogy of Luke is that of Mary because he tells it from her perspective.
But the question that comes up is why do we need these two genealogies? After all, Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph anyway. So why do we need to have these two genealogies? Now the normal answer goes something like this. Matthew gives us the royal line; Luke gives us the real line; Matthew the royal line and Luke the real line. What they mean by that is this: That according to Matthew’s account Joseph was the heir apparent to David’s throne. And because Jesus was his adopted son, Jesus could claim the throne by virtue of His being adopted by Joseph while Luke provides us with the fact being solved (?) both biologically from David, not through a father but only through a mother.
That is the normal answer given for the two genealogies but I will try to show that the exact opposite is true. The point of Matthew’s genealogy is this: If Jesus was in any way the son of Joseph biologically, He could not be king and not could He be king by being adopted by Joseph. Look at Matthew’s account. Matthew chooses to break with Jewish tradition in two ways. First of all he skips names. He wants to have three sets of 14; now why 14? Because, his focus is upon the concept of Messiah being the Davidic Messianic King. In the Hebrew David’s name has the numerical value of 14. The numerical value of David’s name is 14 so you have three sets of 14 for emphasizing that Davidic concept.
A second way he … in one way he does follow Jewish practices and there are other ways that he violates Jewish practices, he mentions the names of women. In Jewish practice in genealogies women were never mentioned. He mentions 4 women, 3 by name. In verse 3 he mentions Tamar; in verse 5, Rehab and Ruth; in verse 6 the pronoun “her” refers to Bathsheba. Now these were not the most significant women in the Messianic line. There were far more significant women in that line such as Sarah, yet Sarah is not mentioned. Why these four women and not some others? Well, first of all these women were all Gentiles. He begins to hint at a point he will make clearer later that while the primary purpose of Messiah’s coming was for lost sheep of the house of Israel, the Gentiles will also benefit from His coming.
A second thing by mentioning these women shows is that He came to save sinners because three of these women were guilty of specific sexual sins. One was guilty of adultery; one was guilty of incest; one was guilty of prostitution. Ruth herself was not guilty of immorality, but she was the result of one because she was a Moabitess. The Moabites came because of an incest relationship between Lot and one of his daughters. So again he ends in a point he will make clearer later. He came for the purpose of saving sinners.
But again why do we need this genealogy to begin with since Jesus was not Joseph’s biological son?
In Matthew 1:2 he goes as far back as Abraham because he is focusing on Jewish origins. Jewish origins begin with Abraham. So he doesn’t go back to Adam only to Abraham where Jewish history begins. He traced the line down to verse 6 where we come to David. From David’s many sons he chooses one Solomon. In Matthew 1:11 we read: “And Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.” Jeconiah will prove crucial here. In verse 12 he picks up with Jeconiah and traces down to verse 16 to Joseph pointing out that Joseph was a direct descendent of David through Solomon and also through Jeconiah. That being true, by the way, we will show he could never be king. In verse 16, by the way, the word “whom” is a feminine pointing out that Jesus was born only of Mary, not of Joseph, because he would then go into the virgin birth account.
Now take your Bibles and turn to Jeremiah 22. To understand the need for these two genealogies, we need to remember that in the Old Testament there are two separate requirements for kingship. One was applicable to the Northern Kingdom of Israel whose capital is Samaria. The second was applicable only to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, its capital in Jerusalem.
The first requirement was to be of Davidic descent. Unless you were a member of the house of David you had no right to sit upon the throne in Jerusalem. Anyone who tried to do so would often fail. Isaiah 7 records a conspiracy of several other kings to try to do away with the house of David and set up a new dynasty unrelated to David. In Isaiah chapter 8 God warns the people any such conspiracy would be doomed to failure. It would violate the Davidic Covenant, God’s covenant with David.
The second requirement is divine appointment applicable to the Northern Kingdom whose capital is Samaria. Unless you have divine appointment or prophetic sanction you had no right to sit upon the throne up in Samaria, in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Anyone who would try to do so would end up getting assassinated. So God told Jehu that his house, his dynasty will last for four generations and four men did. When the fifth one tried to gain the throne, he was assassinated.
Now Jeremiah 22:24, “As I live, saith Jehovah, though Coniah,” Coniah is a shortened form of the name Jechoniah, “the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet upon my right hand, yet I would pluck you thence.  And I will give thee into hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of them of whom you are afraid, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.  And I will set you out, and your mother that bore you, into another country, where you were not born; there you shall die.  But the land whereon you so long to return to, you shall not return.  Is this man Coniah a despised broken vessel: is he a vessel wherein none delight? Why are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they do not?  O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah.  Thus saith Jehovah, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling in Judah.”
Because of the kind of man that Jeconiah was, God placed a special curse upon him. The curse grows in its intensity. He will go into captivity. He will die in captivity, never to return to his homeland again. When that highpoint is reached in verse 29, God calls upon the whole earth three times over to listen to what the high point is. The high point is spelled out in verse 30 that no descendent of Jeconiah will ever have the right to sit upon the throne of David. Note that no son of Jeconiah has the right to sit upon David’s throne. So until this point of Jeremiah 22, the first requirement was to be of the house of David. It was now further limited. You still have to be a member of the house of David but now apart from Jeconiah… apart from Jeconiah. All of this will play a role in how Jesus could claim the throne of David.
Going back to our gospel account in the genealogies, what we learned previously is that Joseph was a descendent of David through Jeconiah and based upon Jeremiah’s curse, that meant that he was not the heir apparent of David’s throne. If Jesus was the real son of Joseph biologically, he too would be disqualified from sitting upon the throne of David. Because Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience that would know about the Jeconiah curse he presents the curse problem but he solves it by the account of the virgin birth. Luke does not have a Jeconiah problem. He reverses it; he starts out with the virgin birth account. The genealogy comes up only at the end of chapter 3 of his Gospel
With this background let’s go over to Luke’s account. In Luke 3: 23-38 you have Luke’s account and because Luke is focusing on humanity and because humanity begins with Adam, he traces the genealogy all the way back to Adam. Unlike Matthew, Luke follows strict Jewish procedures in that he does not skip any names nor does he mention any names of any women. Now by Jewish law you could not mention any women, the question would then be: suppose you want to trace a woman’s line. How do you do that? The answer is you would substitute her name with her husband’s name.
That raised a second question. If the husband’s name appears for his own genealogy and her genealogy, how could someone tell the difference? How could you tell which one is which because in both cases Joseph’s name will appear? The problem was in the point of English grammar because it does not exist in the Greek. We do not use a definite article before a proper name. We don’t say “the Susan”. We don’t say “the Larry”. We don’t use a definite article with a proper name in English. But in Greek it is quite permissible. And every single name in this list has a definite article in front of it with one exception. The exception is in verse 24 where Joseph’s name does not have a definite article. That would tell a Jewish reader that although this is Joseph’s name this is not really his line, it is the line of his wife, but in keeping with the Jewish practice it is his name that is used. If you want more details on this, there is an appendix in the back of Harmony on pages 259 to 262 – 259 to 262 in the back of Robertson’s Harmony. It gives you more detail explanation as to how that system works.
We notice at the end of verse 23 and the first part of verse 24, he calls Joseph “the son of Heli.” In Talmudic literature, rabbinic writings whenever they refer to Mary by her Jewish name Miriam they call her the daughter of Heli. Rabbis recognized that this was not really Joseph’s line; it was her line. In a substitution for a husband’s name for the wife you will also find in two places in the Old Testament, Ezra 2:61 also Nehemiah 7:63. Now whereas Matthew went back into time and came into his own day, Luke does the reverse order. He begins in his own time and works back all the way back to Adam.
Now look at Luke 3:31, he says,  “the son of Eliakim,  the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathan, the son of Nathan, the son of David.” What we learn then here is that Mary, like Joseph, was also from the house of David. However she came out of David’s other sons, not Solomon and therefore Jeconiah, but through Nathan. Therefore she was a member of the house of David apart from Jeconiah. And because Jesus was her biological son that meant He also was a descendent of David apart from Jeconiah and therefore He fulfills the first requirement. He was from the house of David apart from Jeconiah.
The trouble is He was not the only one. At this point of Jewish history there are many other Jews living. They are also members of the house of David apart from Jeconiah. Why does he have the right to claim the throne, not somebody else? It is because of a second requirement of divine appointment that we’ll see when we get to paragraph 5.
Now the early paragraphs of the life of the Messiah keep referring back to various Jewish covenants that God made with the Jewish people. Look at Matthew 1:1 [“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”] By calling him the Son of Abraham it connects Him with the Abrahamic Covenant and because of these connections He will be the one to fulfill the Jewish covenants for Israel.
Also with the genealogies you have the four sonships of the Messiah. The first sonship is the son of David. That means that Jesus is a King, more specifically the Messianic King; Son of Abraham—Jesus is a Jew. At the end of Luke’s version Luke 3:38 two more sonships, the Son of Man or Adam meaning He is human. And then the Son of God—He is God. You put the 4 sonships together, Son of David, Abraham, Adam and God; put it together you have the Messianic Jewish God-Man-King.
2. The Advent of the King – Paragraphs 4-11
a. The Annunciation of the Birth of John to Zacharias
Paragraph 4 – Luke 1
Now point 2 in your outline we have the advent of the King comprising of paragraphs 4 through 11 with paragraph 4 being the annunciation of the birth of John to Zacharias in Luke 1. There are two key people in this paragraph; the first person is Zacharias. Zacharias in Hebrew means Jehovah remembers, Jehovah remembers; and Elisabeth in the Hebrew Elishaba which means the oath of God… the oath of God. You put the two names together: God remembers His oath, again a common mental connection. Later on, not in this paragraph but in paragraph 8 there will be a play upon words about the meanings of these two words. I will come back to it at that point. Now verse 5 points out that he was a member of the order of the cross of Abijah.
Now when David divided the tribe of Levi in 1 Chronicles 24, he divided the priesthood into 24 courses and every course would have a two week turn that the (?) functions of the Temple compound and sat for two weeks; one course left, a new course would come in and so on. And each course had many different priests and who did what was chosen by the casting of lots. That was practiced in the first century so you still had only one High Priest. Under the High Priest you have 24 chief priests in charge of 24 courses and then you have many common priests. Zacharias was one of the many common priests of the course of Abijah.
We read in Luke 1:6 that both he and his wife were righteous before God. They were members of the believing remnant of that day, “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” The word “blameless” does not mean perfect sinlessly. They were blameless in that when they did sin they brought the proper sacrifices and had those sins covered. In that sense they were blameless, not sinless, but blameless.
Now his function for a two week period is to perform the same ceremony, the burning of the incense. It was a relatively simple ceremony. You would take a hot coal, (?) the sacrifice, you brought it into a first room; there was a second altar in front of a thick curtain, altar of incense. You put the hot coals upon the altar; from the incense there would come a sweet smelling smoke, odor offering before the Lord into the Holy of Holies. And that’s his function for two weeks, twice a day, morning and evening. But because of what happened back in Leviticus 10, the two sons of Aaron performed the same ceremony improperly; they were stricken dead by God in the Holy Place.
The common teaching of the first century Judaism was this. If any priest made a mistake he too would die in the Holy Place. That’s the back ground to Luke 1:11, “And there came to him an angel of the LORD, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.” Now by first century Judaism, the rabbis had embellished the teaching a bit. They wanted to say that if a priest made a mistake and was going to die, before he would die an angel would visibly appear standing, not on the left side but specifically on the right side of the altar of incense, and that would be the angel of death. As soon as they saw the angel standing on the right side of the altar of incense, the priest should assume that he made a mistake and should assume he would soon die.
So while he is doing the incense burning, what happens? An angel appears standing on the right side of the altar or incense. Look at verse 12, “And Zacharias… was troubled.” Guess why? From what happened he totally expects to die, but the message of the angel would not be a message of judgment or death but of new life, a blessing to come. What he tells Zacharias, in spite of his age, he will sire a son and in verse 13, when that son is born he should name him John. That’s an anglicized form of the name; his name in Hebrew was Yochanan and Yochanan means Jehovah is gracious or the grace of Jehovah. That is the actual meaning of the name. With his name he is announcing the coming of a new age, a new dispensation.
He says several things about John. First of all,  “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord,” that will be John’s position before the Lord, one of greatness. How great he was going be we will see how Jesus will evaluate him a bit later. Secondly, he “shall drink no wine nor strong drink.” He must totally abstain from anything having to do with alcohol or anything from the grape. Now he was not told to abstain from wine because he was John the Baptist. That’s not the reason. Rather he is to be a Nazirite from birth. Now generally speaking a Nazirite vow was a voluntary vow one took for a set period of time. But three people in biblical history were called to be Nazirites from birth. First of all, Sampson, who was unfaithful to his vow. Secondly, Samuel, who was faithful to his vow. Then you have a third person – Yochanan, John. That’s the reason for total abstention.
Thirdly, “he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” To be filled means to be controlled by the Sprit. He was under the Spirit’s control even when he was still in the womb of his mother. Fourthly, [Luke 1:16] “Many of the children of Israel shall he turn unto the Lord, their God.” He will begin a repentance movement, a back-to-God movement, to get the people ready, have a group ready to accept the Messiah once he identifies who the Messiah will be.
Fifthly, [Luke 1:17] “He shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah,” and we will see several correlations between John and Elijah throughout the Gospels. This the first one, He will come in the same power and spirit as Elijah the prophet, and like Elijah he will have a special ministry to the believing remnant of that day. And finally at the end verse 17, to make a people ready for the Lord for Him; his purpose was to have a group ready to accept Him as Jesus the Messiah once John identifies who the Messiah is going to be. So here Zacharias has been given some tremendous good news.
When he is finally able to speak in Luke 1:18, “Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” He raises a question: how can I know if this is true? It’s a question which arises out of unbelief. So the angel gives him a rather unique sign. Since he spoke a word or a question of unbelief, he will speak no more until the promise is fulfilled and now he is stricken to be a mute. He will stay a mute until the day that John is circumcised. When you’re having a conversation with an angel that takes some time, much longer time than it takes to burn some incense on the hot coals. And people outside, in verse 21 were waiting for him, wondering why he was taking so long. Fortunately he came out but he can’t speak any more. He could tell them nothing of what happened to him inside. People recognized something happened, but they cannot know what happened.
But when he finished his two week course of actions in Luke 1:24-25, he returned to his wife and shortly thereafter she conceives. Now she hides herself for 5 months saying the Lord has taken away “my reproach” because in biblical times there was nothing more negative than a barren woman who could not produce children. Not such a terrible thing in our day, but it was considered a very terrible thing in biblical times because it was cutting off the husband’s line, and now, that reproach had been taken away because she was pregnant.