The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. – Matthew 1:1
The beginning of the New Testament may not immediately strike us as inspiring. In fact, if someone were reading through the Bible for the very first time and reached the end of Malachi, which points forward with anticipation, their excitement might falter when the next book begins with… a genealogy. They (and we!) might even be tempted to skip Matthew and begin with another Gospel altogether.
Keep in mind, though, that the promises God made to His people in the Old Testament all looked forward to their fulfillment. As we read through the New Testament, we realize that in fact it couldn’t open in a more fitting manner, since the genealogy in Matthew draws the line from Abraham to David and at last to Jesus as the one who fulfills all these promises.
Similarly Mark, throughout his Gospel, reaches one hand back to the prophets who pointed forward to the one who was yet to come. Mark uses the Old Testament to set the stage for this striking reality, his second sentence beginning “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet…” (Mark 1:2). And the first words he records Jesus as saying are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (v 15). Jesus’ disciples had the privilege of witnessing what prophets and kings had longed to see (see Luke 10:24)—a privilege that even now continues through the illuminating work of God’s word.
The New Testament shows us that the means by which God’s promises are fulfilled can be summed up in two words: Jesus Christ. God made His promises to Israel using terminology and categories that they understood—words like nation and temple. Christ’s coming redefined Old Testament concepts in light of the gospel: Old Testament prophecies, we discover, are all fulfilled christologically—by and in the person of the Christ. Therefore, instead of looking for a new temple in the state of Israel, we meet with God through His Son, the Lord Jesus; enjoy His presence in each of us by His Spirit; and look to the reality of Christ’s reign to transform our lives both now and forevermore.
The coming of the Son of God breaks the boundaries of Old Testament categories. This is not meant to be unsettling for God’s people; it is meant to be thrilling! Christ is the perfect fulfillment of all God’s promises. He is the reality of all God’s great assurances.
Wait no more, then, to see how God will fulfill His every promise. We know now that each one was, is, and ever will be satisfied through Christ. He has promised to be with you, to work for you and through you, and to bring you to an eternal kingdom of perfection. There are times when it is hard to hold on to those promises. When those times come, we look back to a man born of Abraham and David’s line, conceived of the Spirit, who was able to announce, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” and who hung on a cross and rose from the grave so that all God’s promises would become “yes” in Him.
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