The work of tracing one's family tree is interesting to many people. I enjoy learning about my own ancestor's through family member's who have undertaken the tedious task themselves. Matthew begin's his presentation of Jesus by tracing his family tree, what does this mean? why did Matthew feel it was important to tell us the lineage of Jesus first rather than just jumping right into the story itself?
First, the genealogy is part of the story, it is a very important part. Jesus comes into this world not disconnected with the past but rather as a fulfillment of the past leading up to him. Matthew is telling his readers that this Jesus of Nazareth is the culmination of Israel's history. Jesus is the fulfillment of promise, he is specifically stated as being the "son of Abraham" taking the minds of the readers back to Genesis 12:3 where it was said that "all people's on earth will be blessed through you". Jesus is also called the "Son of David", fulfilling the promise that "the throne of his kingdom will be established forever" (2 Samuel 7).
Matthew's genealogy says that God is working in a dramatic way, a new thing is happening in the earth, the Messiah has come and his Kingdom is being inaugurated. God has worked through the centuries leading up to Jesus, his plan has continually progressed forward through many individuals, some of them gentiles such as Rahab and Ruth, some of them very noteworthy such as Hezekiah and Josiah, some of them such as Manasseh not so noteworthy, good times and bad, it is interesting that Solomon's mother is called the one who "had been Uriah's wife". Through it all, exile and deliverance, faithfulness and rebellion, God has been faithful to his promise. This is where Matthew wants to begin, the long story reaching its climatic point and his kingdom being established. A light for all nations has dawned.