Slideshow image

Every four years in America, we’re subjected to campaign promises about a new kind of leader, one who will fix everything that the last guy messed up.

"Change We Can Believe In”

"Make America Great Again!"

"Restore The Soul of The Nation"            

Give it a few more months and we’ll have more. How different is the Gospel of Matthew. The Apostle presents Jesus as a new kind of king, but he doesn’t begin by contrasting Jesus with the kings of Rome or the long-dead kings of Israel. He goes much further back.

Matthew begins his gospel by showing us Jesus is a new kind of king: The book of the genealogy (Matthew 1:1). To see what that phrase has to do with Jesus being a new kind of king, we need a quick history lesson.

In Matthew’s day the Scriptures most people had access to would’ve been what’s called the Septuagint. The Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, which was the common written language of the day. It got its name from the Latin word for “seventy,” since that’s likely the number of scholars that were involved in translating the OT into Greek.

We know Matthew studied the Septuagint because he often alludes to it or quotes it directly. Including in the first two words of his gospel: The book of the genealogy. That phrase is only two words in the original language, Biblos geneseos (literally, “book of origins”).

That phrase was used only two times in Matthew’s Old Testament, both in the book of Genesis, which is itself a “biblos geneseos,” a book of origins. The first is in Genesis 2:4 and it refers to the origins of the heavens and the earth. The second is likely what Matthew was referring to when he opened his letter:

Genesis 5:1This is the book of the generations [biblos geneseos] of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.

In Genesis, Adam appears on the scene as man in the likeness of God. And he’s a kind of king. He’s given a perfect kingdom to rule, yet he fails miserably.

In Matthew, Jesus appears on the scene as God in the likeness of man. But He’s a new kind of king. He’s given a fallen kingdom to restore, and He succeeds in ways no one could have imagined.

Paul highlights this contrast between Jesus and Adam in Romans 5:18-19, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

All of us fell when King Adam sinned. Just like when a mighty oak tree falls, all its branches fall too. But—praise God!—all who believe in King Jesus are raised to new life! He is a new kind of King, and the gospel of Matthew is a new kind of Genesis, a story of a King like no other with a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

The problem with all those campaign slogans is that they tempt us to live for too small a king and too small a kingdom. Jesus isn’t just better than the last guy. He’s better than the first guy too. And everybody in between.