Being a friendly kind of a person one of the things that has consistently been said to me at the start of a piece of news I am going to receive is this: “I know you’re a friend of his but let me tell you something …” Do you know that experience? The person is worried that the friendship will blind you from the truth.
Of course being a friend of someone does help. I received a call from someone recently who brought a complaint about their Pastor. I was able to say “I know him for longer than you. I have never ever seen him in the way you describe him.” Of course it isn’t proof that the Pastor was wrong but my friendship helped.
Paul quoting a Greek poet says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ It is true that we need to keep a watch over people we walk with so that they do not influence us negatively. Sometimes it is essential that you stop meeting that person for coffee because their friendship is spoiling you.
We are going to see this in the next section in Jesus’ family tree.
“Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah” (Matthew 1 v 7-8)
Asa was a good king, a reformer who removed the majority of the idols from the land. However, he didn’t finish well. On being confronted by the prophet Hanani, regarding his friendship and alliance with King Ben-Hadad, he threw the prophet in prison. He died from a disease simply because his alliance with the Lord had stopped and he didn’t enquire of Him.
Jehoshaphat was one of Israel’s best kings and known for further reforms of the land bringing people back to Yahweh. But again his friendship was the big mistake of his life. He was reproached by the prophet Jehu for his alliance with King Ahab which ended disastrously for him and his people.
Jehoram was a wicked king. When his grandfather allied with the North to fight the Syrians, Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab (and possible his chief wife, Jezebel) was given to Jehoram in marriage. This alliance in marriage was the undoing of his kingship and God’s people. He took his wife’s religion (an alliance of Baalism with worship of Yahweh) and forced it onto the nation.
Matthew leaves out 3 kings and goes down the line to Uzziah. The word ‘fathered’ can mean descendent anyway. Why he does that is probably because he wants to give a birds-eye view as he races to the entrance of Jesus the King. The interesting thing for us is that there is a connection for us in our group of kings. Uzziah was a good one. He was successful. He had substantial achievements. His fame spread far and wide. He built towers across the land to protect his people and he built cisterns to provide for them. However, his alliance with the Lord would disintegrate. His pride led him to want to take the priestly office and he was struck with leprosy but for such an arrogant presumption of which he died from it and wasn’t even buried amongst the kings. Only in Jesus do we see the role of King, Prophet and Priest.
Not only do we need to be careful with our friendships we must keep connected with a healthy alliance to the Lord.
That may be what the readers are seeing in Matthew’s genealogy.