Daily Update #184

Today’s readings –  Genesis 49:2,8-10  Psalm 72:1-5,18-19   Matthew 1:1-17

When I was a teenager my Dad spent many happy hours researching our family tree by visiting Somerset House in London, which was where the general records of births, marriages and deaths were stored.   Since then my brother has taken up the search through Ancestry.com in order to leave a legacy for the following generation.

Television programmes such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Long Lost Family” are popular and demonstrate people’s need to discover their identity.

If you were to choose the sort of people to have in your family line, I wonder who you might include?      Perhaps a World War I Army General, a famous athlete, a link to William Shakespeare, royalty or possibly a famous scientist……?

Matthew wrote his gospel primarily for Jews who were very interested in genealogies.   The fact that Jesus’ pedigree could be traced back to Abraham, father of the nation, as well as through David Israel’s greatest king, was very impressive!

However, let’s look at some of these characters…

ABRAHAM – as well as being father of the nation, was also the one who passed his wife off as his sister in an effort to save his own skin! (Gen. 12)

JACOB – tricked his brother out of his birth-right (Gen. 25) and his father’s blessing (Gen. 27).

KING DAVID – committed adultery with the wife of Uriah.   Then arranged Uriah’s murder to try and cover his tracks! (2 Sam.11)

Of the other men included in the genealogy – some were plain evil, while others started well and then messed up.

It was unusual at that time for ladies to be included in a genealogy but four are mentioned here, all of them foreigners…..

URIAH’S WIFE was complicit in adultery
TAMAR was involved in an act of prostitution (Gen. 38)
RAHAB possibly kept a brothel (Josh 2)
Even the lovely RUTH, encouraged by her mother-in-law, used a very interesting method to attract Boaz into fulfilling his family obligations! (Ruth 3)

THE GENEALOGY AS A WHOLE reflects three distinct periods in Israel’s history, demonstrating its rise and fall as a nation….
(vv. 2-6a)  Its rise to the high point of David’s reign
(6b -11)     Its descent into exile
(12-16)     The period of restoration as a much smaller, more subdued nation

This picture of failure, outright sin and intrigues is not very pretty.   There doesn’t seem to be much space to hang tinsel around it!    If we cannot choose our family line – surely the God of the universe could have done better with His!   

But God does things differently to us.   The key is in the angel’s words to Joseph in Matthew 1:21…”He (Jesus) will save His people from their sins.”

God’s chosen race failed in their calling and so do we.   Everyone needs a Saviour.   

Our celebration of Christmas may be different this year, but the wonder of it lies in the fact that Almighty God chose to be born into our sinful human race in order to rescue us from sin.   The greatest miracle of all is that He shared our life, entered our pain and sadness, and eventually died in our place.    These are indeed “Tidings of Comfort and Joy”.

More than once I have heard people say “I am not good enough to come to church” which is one of the saddest remarks anyone could make.

Reflecting on the genealogy of Jesus ought to encourage us that, though no-one is good enough for Jesus, He paid us the greatest compliment by coming to live among us.   Whoever we are, wherever we come from, whatever we have done in our lives, young or old, male or female, insider or outsider – God thinks we are worth saving and made the journey!

This year may be a quieter Christmas than usual – perhaps it will give us more time to reflect with wonder at the love behind it all.   Maybe this is the way God wants it.  

Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart.
(Charles Wesley)