You want to begin to read the Christmas story. Turning to Matthew’s Gospel, you start with the first chapter. The first seventeen verses give a genealogy of Jesus’ family. A litany continues “So and so fathered so and so…” Though we can recognize some of the names such as Abraham, Jacob, and David, why would this ancient list of names matter to us?
The scriptures do not hide from brokenness. Psalms record the candid prayers of people, often sharing frustrations with God. Historical books like Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings, share do not shy away from human sinfulness. If anything, the scriptures paint us a reality of life marred by sin.
Jesus’ family tree includes the following…
Abraham lied about his wife Sarah to protect himself.
Jacob tricked his own blind and aging father.
Judah fathered a child in this lineage with the wife of one of his sons.
David killed a man to marry his wife.
Then you can follow the unkempt stories of Rehoboam and Manasseh.
Safe to safe, we will never compare Jesus’ relatives with the gravitas of British monarchy.
Matthew, the writer of the Gospel, has his past to reconcile. This genealogy reflects his life. He sold his Jewish soul to become a wealthy tax collector in the Roman government, enemies of his people. Later on in his Gospel, he will tell of Jesus calling him (Matt. 9-13). The people we would never think to belong to the line of a Savior become the people which God works through.
Michael J. Wilkins in his commentary on Matthew, says this about Jesus’ genealogy:
Thus, at the very start of his Gospel, Matthew points his readers beyond the personal qualifications of individuals who belong to the line of the Messiah. He focuses instead on the faithfulness of God to bring about his plan of salvation. As will be made clear throughout Matthew’s story of Jesus’ life and ministry, it was God’s overwhelming love for his people that energized his faithfulness… (pg. 66-67)
As we look at our lives, we do not have to hide from reality. We carry the guilt and shame of our past. Some of our families emulate far more dysfunction than consistency. Many of us still have scars from the pain and hurt in our lives.
The Good News of the Gospel shatters the lie having the right pedigree or credentials to follow Jesus. If we learn anything from Jesus, His greatest miracles happen through fractured individuals because they realize their need for His grace. Rather than human effort or accomplishment, Christ reveals his faithfulness to us despite our brokenness.
Do not skip over the genealogies of the Bible. It’s a part of our story. Let this passage of scripture remind you of God’s faithfulness in the midst of regular people. He has called us based on His overwhelming love. Thus, we can experience the peace of reconciliation with Him and invite others to do the same.
Photo credit by Viktor Hanacek.