Well, the Christmas season is finally fully upon us. Indeed, it is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year. Can I get a witness?! Do you ever walk away from a holiday family get-together saying, “Man, I’ve got one messed up family,”? I mean, everybody has that Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in their family tree that you sort of want to just choke a little bit. Ya know what I’m saying? In fact, you might even be the Cousin Eddie! Sometimes it all can be just a bit much.
Take heart, my friend, because you are in good company. One of the things that gives me encouragement when I look at my own family is the reality of Jesus’ family. Have you ever thought about the sort of people there are in Jesus’ family tree? Although He himself was perfect and sinless, His earthly lineage was far from it. He had one messed up family!
We find the genealogy of Jesus in the opening book of the New Testament, Matthew 1:1-17, which breaks the family tree into three stages:
- v1-6a, The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king.
- v6b-11, David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa. Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
- v12-17, After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about the last third of Jesus’ family tree, but we know a lot about the first two-thirds. Many of them are heroes of the faith, but even these heroes of the faith were serious sinners:
- Abraham was a liar and a polygamist (Genesis 20:1-3; Genesis 16:1-4).
- Isaac was a liar also and showed favoritism in his children (Genesis 26:6-9; Genesis 25:28).
- Jacob was an extortionist and a swindler (Genesis 25:29-34; Genesis 27:1-27).
- Tamar, who is the mother of Perez, was a fornicator and a deceiver (Genesis 38:6-26).
- Rahab, the mother of Boaz, was a pagan prostitute (Joshua 2:1).
- Ruth once worshipped false gods (Ruth 1:4).
- David was a polygamist, adulterer, murderer, and poor father (1 Samuel 25:39-44; 1 Chronicles 14:3; 2 Samuel 11:1-3; 2 Samuel 11:14-17; 2 Samuel 13:1-39).
- Solomon was a polygamist and was drawn away from God by his many pagan wives (1 Kings 11:4).
- Rehoboam foolishly split the kingdom of Israel and led Judah to sin (1 Kings 12:1-24; 1 Kings 14:21-31).
- Abijah walked in the sins of his father and was not devoted to God (1 Kings 15:1-3).
- Uzziah disobeyed the worship regulations of God and was struck with leprosy (2 Chronicles 26:16-21).
- Ahaz was very wicked, even leading Israel to sacrifice children (2 Chronicles 28:1-4).
Just a quick glance at the ancestry of Jesus makes Romans 3:23 that much more gripping! The shear universality of all sinning and falling short of the glory of God is astounding, but even more shocking is the nature in which these in Jesus’ family sinned. Many of them are very grievous sins. Humanity is sinful and depraved, indeed. Jesus’ family sorely needed a savior.
As I reflect on this family history, it causes me to wonder what would have been recorded of me if I had been born in the lineage of Jesus. I’ve got all of these terribly shameful things flashing through my mind, and it’s painfully clear to me that I would be terribly embarrassed if an author had written them down. But even more than embarrassment flooding my mind is the stark reality that I sorely need a savior. I know that I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that I cannot be good enough to enter into Heaven. I’m one messed up dude!
But in light of all of this, praise God that the Father sent His only-begotten Son to take on flesh to live the life of sinless perfection that we cannot live and to die the excruciating wrathful death that we deserve! Praise God for a Holy Substitue!
This Christmas season may we celebrate the fact that Jesus came on a mission to save sinners like those in His own family and like me! No matter what you have done, you are not out of the reach of God’s mercy and grace found in Christ Jesus if you will turn from your sin and trust in Jesus. May the truth of Romans 5:8 be our joy, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! May we receive and rejoice in the grace that is provided to all who will believe on Jesus Christ! May we hunger for the day when our one messed up family is one Christ-like family! It’s coming. That’s why Christ was born.