Family stories are important… roots… where you came from…
Chad and I have decided to preach a series of messages this Fall on the stories of Jesus family… the past generations, taken from the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew. God’s imperfect Family. Many of the names are not just names, they are real people with stories, the stories lead to the birth of Jesus. In this photo book from my grandmother I can go back to the civil war… Jesus family history goes directly back to Abraham, in Matthew’s version, in Luke the family names go back to Adam... The series of messages between now and the end of the year are character studies/stories, real people. We know a ton about many of the characters in Jesus’ imperfect family, someday I imagine we’ll do a whole series on Abraham/David, for example, others are just a name only found lists.
What is the significance of Matthew providing a genealogy of Jesus?
- Jesus was truly human, born with an earthly history. Fully divine, but fully human. He has kings in his background as well as ordinary people.
- An obvious lesson from this genealogy? Families are important. Love your family, embrace your family, warts and all. BTW, this genealogy is Jesus past family that led up to his birth… but there is a real sense in which we are all part of the family of God, we are heirs of Christ Jesus. The family is still imperfect ~ some of you are insane, but we love you anyway. Jesus past family is important, providing stories of men and women that were in the line of Jesus, but his heirs are equally important spiritually we can all embrace the family of Christ. I want the community to know that we are ready to enlarge our family of Christ, and you are welcome….
- Another great lesson from this genealogy is the fact that not only are families important, but so is adoption. Humanly speaking, if this is the only family line we had of Jesus, it is clear in the book of Matthew that Jesus is not in the bloodline of these folks. Listen again in Matt. 1:16 how it is carefully worded so that Joseph is NOT the bio father of Jesus. READ. Later in Matthew it is clear Mary is a virgin when Jesus is conceived… Joseph is NOT bio dad. Yet Joseph’s heritage is Jesus’ heritage. If that does not underscore the importance of adoption I don’t know what does. Good thing. Adopted children are full heirs of the promise of parents, or they better be. One of the wonderful themes of the New Testament is that we are adopted into the family of God…
- A group that stands out in this genealogy is women. Most genealogies in Jesus day are men only. The fact that five women are included: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary illustrates that great truth in Gal. 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave or free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Obviously some are slaves and others free on this earth, some are men and others women, but in terms of importance all are equally loved by God and are invited to accept his gift of grace, the forgiveness of sins, in Christ Jesus. The other major thing about the first four women is that they are NOT Jewish…. This fact hints at Jesus purpose to reach the ends of the earth….
- The family of Jesus Christ is imperfect. God does not sugarcoat the lives of the people he uses: some are skunks at times, and at other times they show great faith. They are ordinary imperfect people that God uses for his purposes. Ordinary imperfect people make up the family of Jesus. Next week Chad will begin with Abraham.
A few more thoughts as I look at this genealogy as a whole.
Matthew begins by highlighting David and Abraham READ Matt. 1:1. Why David? David was the great King of Israel that reigned about 1000 years before Christ. David a man of great faith and a man of great sin. Perhaps more importantly for this genealogies’ sake, God promised David that his heirs would reign on the throne forever. More than any other book of the New Testament, Matthew describes Jesus as KING… the promise to David finds fulfillment in JESUS, fulfillment in a way that nobody could ever imagine.
Why Abraham? Because Abraham is the father of the Jewish nation, established again by God’s promise that God would make Abraham into a great nation and through the descendants of Abraham all nations earth would have the opportunity to receive salvation. Abraham so very little of the promise in his lifetime… Another thing about Abraham that occurs to me is that all Jews can trace their blood lines all the way to Abraham. This brings an identity, a commonality, a bond with Jesus….
The number 14 is important to Matthew. Nobody really knows why. READ Matt. 1:17. There are several theories, but none of them seem that profound to me. Maybe 14 is just a poetic number that adds a sense of purposefulness. The 14 in each section is like a drumbeat of the family of God unfolding through history… But each of the three sections have a distinct character.
~ The first set of 14 names (Matt. 1:2-5) are mostly well known Bible characters that are foundational to establishing the family of Jesus and the rise of Israel as a nation. Lot’s of skeletons, lots of faithful men and women. Many surprises.
~ The second set of 14 (Matt. 1:6-11). This is the list of Kings of Israel, and then the kings of the divided nation of Judah, it is significant that the kingship goes from father to son to father to son to father to son. There are good and bad kings, but on balance, there are more good than bad kings as compared to the northern Kingdom of Israel that was on balance evil kings with much more treachery and instability. For the southern Kingdom of Judah these Kings provide centuries of relative stability for God’s people.
~ The last set of 14 in some ways is the most interesting because we know the least about them. (Matt 1:12-16)… There are several lessons from this group…by the time we get to Joseph, Joseph is relatively obscure, unlike the middle group of 14. Jesus closest relatives were a line of 14 generations of nobodies… obscure… by the time Jesus was born nobody cared he was born in a stable because there was nothing special about the family at that point in time. As I studied this genealogy of Jesus family line, suddenly a light came on…I realized that if Israel had remained an independent nation and not gone into exile, you know what this list represents? This is the list of Kings who might have been. If Israel had remained a sovereign nation, Joseph, the “father” of Jesus, would have been KING. Each of these men might have been King, but God did not ordain them in that role… yet the promise remained alive in them that the heir of David would sit on the throne. These imperfect men in Jesus family were used by God to keep the promise alive.
I’m so glad to know Jesus family is imperfect. That means I fit right in! Won’t you join the family of Jesus? We’ll study some of the men and women of Jesus family this Fall, the characters, the imperfections. The good news is that the invitation is open for you to be an heir of Christ Jesus and join his family. I want this community to know that we are ready to see the family of Jesus Christ grow ~ imperfect people joined together by Jesus Christ.