The historic account, for it is not a fabrication of someone’s imagination, starts in Matthew chapter one with 17 verses devoted to Jesus’ genealogy. I mentioned previously how God takes insignificant people, calls up their potential and through faith they do the impossible. How wonderful is that? It is amazing to think I can impact my world for His sake.
I used to skip the genealogy because I found a list of names boring. But God is not into wasting space. There is a truth of His redemption story buried even within a genealogy. Jesus has significant figures in His family line, Abraham, Judah, David and Solomon. The father of our faith through to two of the best-known kings in history isn’t a bad line-up. But if you look a little closer, you can find some people whose reputations you would not expect to find in the Saviour’s family tree.
How about Judah? The tribe that bears the hallmark of praise is fathered by a man who did not think it unwise to avail himself of the services of a prostitute along the side of the highway. Little did he know that she was his daughter-in-law? When it came to his attention that she was pregnant, he was ready to kill her. The problem was she had taken some of his personal effects, which she sent to him with the word that the owner of these is the father of my child. Judah admitted that she was more righteous than he in her actions. How would you like to have this situation occur in your church? One of your elders has impregnated his widowed daughter-in-law. How do you explain that?
Then there’s Rahab, the prostitute, from Jericho. A prostitute? What’s up with that? All our religious hackles go up with that thought. Her actions saved her and her whole family from destruction but also honoured her with a descendant that redeems all that is evil. Then there’s David, the murderer and adulterer. A great king who lived passionately in all that he did. Having lingered in Jerusalem when the army went to war, he used his position and authority abusively. Impregnating Bathsheeba, he then connives to have it appear that the child really is Uriah’s by bringing him back from the front. Uriah out of concern for his fellow soldiers doesn’t go to his wife. David arranges through Joab to have Uriah ambushed by the enemy. After Uriah is dead he takes Bathsheeba as his wife and acts like nothing unusual has happened. Wow! This is a man whose heart is after God. It shows the deceptiveness of sin and the downward spiral of death it releases. The difference that set David apart from King Saul was his heart. When confronted by Nathan with his sin, he repented in fasting, sackcloth and ashes. He didn’t care that the palace servants saw him. All he cared about was the mercy of God.
All these people are family to our Lord. The church would like to sanitize this story. Would we hire someone with his family background to be our new pastor? The key to Jesus’ family is the mercy and forgiveness of God. He was setting the backdrop for His redemption story. God forgives. He is not looking for vengeance upon us. He wants to have fellowship with us. Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. We are not only friends of God; we are sons of God through the work of Jesus’ sacrifice.
The Christmas story is one of redemption. Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (Phil. 2: 6-8) Christmas is about gifts – the gift of life – so precious that only God himself could fulfil the part. This is what his genealogy is pointing to. See; see the hope and the future that only God can give. Our hope is sealed in His forgiveness, our future settled in His son. Thank you Lord for His birth.