I know a little about mine. I've even sent away to have my DNA tested to see if the things I have heard about my family are as true in my DNA record as it is in the stories that have been shared!
On closer examination, my DNA's story actually matches some of the stories my brother has told me about our ancestors. We have some very good people in our family story. Good men, great leaders, strong women, and a lot of people very committed to Jesus. But, like a lot of people, we have some doozies! Our family is full of scoundrels, whacky characters, eccentric loners, along with several generations of marauding and pillaging invaders.
The more most of us examine our past, the more we realize that our family tree is full of interesting stories. One of our stories makes people smile. It involves the marriage of my grandmother. Her wedding made me my own cousin. Her story brings joy out the hard realities of our family's grief. My dad, her son, died when I was 25. Three-and-half years later, my mom re-married another godly man. My Granny wasn't very thrilled at the time. Several years later, however, her husband, my dad's father, died. About a year later, my step-father's father-in-law began courting my grandmother. Next thing you know, my step-father's father-in-law married my grandmother! Got all that? Suddenly, I became my own cousin. (Yes, my family tree has a few roots in Oklahoma!)
Family stories are important. Some are serious. Some are tragic. Some are humorous. But, they all can reveal something about our families and the people who made us who we are.
The Bible blesses us with the genealogies of key people in our spiritual heritage. These genealogies tell us something about our spiritual family. As Christians, we've been grafted into the family tree of Abraham (Romans 11:17-18). When the Bible lists genealogies, these are the people who make up our spiritual family tree because we are spiritual descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:29).
Today, James' video focuses on Jesus and his ancestors. James reminds us that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promises and the genealogy begins the great story of God's grace. As you watch, think of the implications that the people in Jesus' genealogy have for you and your story — how they show that you belong in Jesus' story, too!
The gospel of Matthew emphasizes Jesus' connection to Abraham and God's promise to bring redemption through one of Abraham's descendants (Genesis 12:1-3). Matthew also emphasizes Jesus' connection to King David and God's promise to bring a king who would be David's descendant and reign on David's throne forever (1 Kings 9:5; Matthew 1:17; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22). God fulfills his promises to both Abraham and David by sending Jesus as the descendant of both of these great men (Matthew 1:17). All of God's promises to Abraham and David find their fulfillment in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:19-20).
Matthew very carefully lists the people in Jesus' family tree. Matthew wants us to know that this is the perfect list of Jesus' family tree by dividing the groupings in his list into three groups of fourteen generations.[NOTE] As we go through this list, we notice some remarkable truths.
Matthew didn't sanitize the list. He left in the scoundrels, the unfaithful, the whacky folks, and the sinful ones. There are no skeletons in Jesus' closet; the embarrassing ancestors of the Lord are displayed in full view. Matthew also lists heroes of faith, victorious warriors, and women who won their way into God's story of redemption. This genealogy reminds us of remarkable faith, both Jews and Gentiles, righteous people and people having questionable moral histories. Jesus' genealogy is full of real people in whom faith triumphed and through whom God kept his promises!
Why is knowing all this about Jesus' family tree so important?
Matthew shows us the good news of God even before he tells Jesus' full story. He does this by showing us the people God has used to get us to Jesus. That is not just good news for some of us; it is great news for all of us! We read this list and know we belong. No matter our backgrounds, no matter our victories or failures, we can find someone like us in Jesus' ancestry. We belong to Jesus' family not just because we've been reborn as God's children (John 1:11-13; 3:1-7), but also because God takes people like us and brings redemption to them and through them.
Let's not only follow this story but also let's make sure we are a part of it!
For more ideas, discussion questions, and a copy of James' video, please check out the study guide for your personal reflection and for discussion of these ideas with others.
[NOTE] Interestingly, Matthew takes a familiar genealogy and lists 14 generations between Abraham, David, and the Exile (Matthew 1:17). Every devoted Jew at this time would know that there were more than 14 generations, but Matthew was using numbers to say something very important. 7 is the number for perfection, so each of these lists was twice the perfect number of generations. There are 3 sections of the genealogy, with 3 often being the divine number of perfection. So, what Matthew gives us is symbolic: 3 times twice the perfect genealogy. That is his way of saying, notice who is on this list. If you do, you will see that Jesus comes to bring us to God no matter our pedigree, background, race, or gender.