“This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham…”
Matthew 1:1 (NLT)
The Genealogy of Jesus
Have you ever had to read Matthew 1 aloud? It might make you sweat. Matthew 1 is the long list of odd names that causes the casual reader to glaze over as he or she fumbles through the weird names of Jesus’ ancestors. This chapter firmly establishes Jesus as a descendant of Abraham. It’s a nice pedigree, but there’s something more.
There is a beautiful truth woven through these names—one that brings me great joy.
Have you ever felt as if your past disqualified you from having a good future? I’ve known many people who carry that burden. If you are one of those people, I hope you find encouragement in this passage today.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. The thing I love the most about the Bible is its honesty. We try to put our best foot forward—sometimes at the expense of the truth. I’m not saying one should spill the whole truth when casually asked, “How are you?” The truth in the tedious passage of Matthew 1 is here to exclaim, God uses people—flawed, corrupt, misguided, well-intentioned, self-serving, and even downright evil people—to accomplish His plan.
The Skeletons in Jesus’ Genealogy
Jesus has some skeletons in His family closet. Jesus came to earth, fully God but He was born into a family with characters whose actions cause an eyebrow to rise. People who, if they came to most churches today, would not be considered for the Christmas play, let alone any ministry.
Not sure you believe that? I’ll let you decide.
Let me introduce you to a few:
- Judah and Tamar: Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law and had his child. Under specific circumstances, that was not scandalous in the day. What was scandalous was Judah got Tamar pregnant when he thought she was a prostitute. She was masquerading as a prostitute to trap Judah and Judah didn’t know it was her. When Tamar showed up in the camp pregnant Judah demanded she be stoned. That’s when he found out HE was the father. Oops…
- Boaz’s mother was Rahab the prostitute in Jericho. Boaz married Ruth who was a Moabite. Moabites were off-limits to the Hebrews. God used the “foreigner” Ruth to become the great-grandmother of King David.
- King David’s story is so sordid it became a movie. It was lust at first sight when David saw Bathsheba. David got her pregnant while her husband Uriah was off fighting the war. David tried to arrange the circumstances so it would look like Uriah came home on leave and got Bathsheba pregnant. When that didn’t work, David arranged to have Uriah placed in the most active battle zone and Uriah was killed. David married Bathsheba and Solomon was born.
- Many of Solomon’s descendants earned the epitaph; …(add name here) did evil in the sight of the Lord. How would you like that on your tombstone?
Although it goes without saying, I’m going to say it anyway; excellence is the goal of the believer. God’s bar is high and that is what we should strive to meet. While God’s bar is high, grace, the great stepladder, gets the believer over the bar.
Is there something in your past you’re ashamed of? Unless you’re a psychopath—sure there is. What is the event or action that percolates to the front of your consciousness when you try to live your Christian life? What is your secret sin that stops you from living the life of abundance that Jesus came to bring? Do you carry some family shame?
Right now—if there is some sin lurking in your past ask Jesus for forgiveness.
Yes—it’s that simple.
If you have asked for forgiveness, it’s given—God is no longer interested in your sin. God interjected Jesus into a dysfunctional human family. Jesus—born by virgin birth—the perfect Son of God—would be the perfect sacrifice to pay sin’s price. God provided the remedy for the disease of sin. It cost God His Son to free you from the curse of sin. If you have accepted that gift—you are square with God—He isn’t going to think of you as sinful ever again.
Take comfort in knowing—Jesus understands having a past.
Although Jesus never sinned—His relatives couldn’t say that. The Bible puts it all out there for everyone to see.
It’s not the sin that should draw your attention. It’s the extraordinary sacrifice—it’s the forgiveness.
That little baby, wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger is the gift that God gave to free you from your past and change the course of your future.
Father, thank You for the honesty of scripture. Help me realize that You are not shocked or overwhelmed by my sin—but that You came, in the birth of Jesus, to provide the remedy for my sin and to offer me hope. I accept that gift today. Loosen my grip on my past so I will have open hands to receive and serve You today.