J.C. Ryle

The Gospel of Matthew begins with a long list of names. Sixteen verses are taken up with tracing a pedigree from Abraham to David, and from David to the family in which Jesus was born. Let no one think that these verses are useless. Nothing is useless in creation. The least mosses, and the smallest insects, serve some good end. Nothing is useless in the Bible. Every word of it is inspired. The chapters and verses which seem at first sight unprofitable, are all given for some good purpose. Look again at these sixteen verses, and you will see in them useful and instructive lessons.

Learn from this list of names, that God always keeps His word. He had promised, that in Abraham's seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. He had promised to raise up a Savior of the family of David. (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 11:1.) These sixteen verses prove, that Jesus was the son of David and the son of Abraham, and that God's promise was fulfilled.

Learn next from this list of names, the sinfulness and corruption of human nature. Observe how many godly parents in this catalogue had wicked and ungodly sons. The names of Rehoboam, and Joram, and Amon, and Jechoniah, should teach us humbling lessons. They had all pious fathers. But they were all wicked men. Grace does not run in families. It needs something more than good examples and good advice to make us children of God. Those who are born again are not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). Praying parents should pray night and day, that their children may be born of the Spirit

Learn lastly from this list of names, how great is the mercy and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think how defiled and unclean our nature is; and then think what a condescension it was in Him to be born of a woman, and "made in the likeness of men." Some of the names we read in this catalogue remind us of shameful and sad histories. Some of the names are those of people never mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. But at the end of all comes the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though He is the eternal God, He humbled Himself to become man, in order to provide salvation for sinners. "Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor."

Adapted from The Gospel of Matthew by J.C. Ryle (Chapter 1).