“The Hopes and Fears of all the Years are met in Thee Tonight”
We all know the moment, even those of us who have never seen the movie. As Luke Skywalker hangs from a small antenna high above the surface of the planet Bespin nursing his recently lost hand, he curses Darth Vader, looking on with anger. It is at this moment that the Sith Lord reveals his true identity with those famous lines: “No, I am your father…”
Why is this moment in cinema history so iconic? Why does it matter who Darth Vader is in relation to Luke? It matters because Luke’s Identity is inseparable from his family’s. If Darth Vader is Luke’s father, then all of the evil and darkness that he embodies is also present in Luke, and the young Jedi now must re-evaluate who he thought he was.
This is the role of many of the genealogies in the Bible. Biblical authors remind us about particular people in a character’s lineage because that character is forever tied to their fathers. They carry the burden of their parents’ actions and persons, as well as their expectations.
Matthew uses this reality to kindle wonder in his audience. Before he dives into Jesus’s fuller genealogy, he calls Jesus “the son of David, the son of Abraham…” Why? Because this is Matthew’s “I am your Father” moment. In the same way that the audience must evaluate Luke as the son of Darth Vader, the reader must wrestle with Jesus as the son of Abraham and David.
What does that mean? It means that Matthew believes Jesus to be the one who will finally embody perhaps the two most significant covenants that God made with individuals of the Old Testament. Jesus embodies the promise to Abraham- that God would undo the fall of man and bless the whole world through Abraham’s family (Genesis 12:1-3), as well as the promise to David- that he would do all of this through a perfect king of David’s descent (2 Samuel 7:12-13). From the beginning of his Gospel Matthew makes the claim that Jesus is the solution to every problem the world has faced. Every sin, every oppression, every bondage would be undone through him. A person like this instantly ignites all of our hopes and dreams, and leaves us wondering how one individual might accomplish such a feat…
-Imagine meeting a person who claimed that they were the solution to all of the world’s problems. How might you initially feel towards that person? How might you feel toward them if you became convinced that they actually were?