Matthew 1:1-16 (NIV)
A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
It is vital for God’s people to remember that Jesus was a real live human being. Yes, He was God in the flesh, but His flesh was real; His humanity was real. He was not an avatar, or some kind of divine manifestation. He was born in the same way that all human beings are born. He had a genealogy and a lineage that could be clearly identified, which Matthew traces all the way back to Abraham, the all-too-human father of the Jewish nation.
Even Jesus’ genealogy was not without controversial and even unsavory members. There were scoundrels, and idolaters included, as well memories of scandal and sin.
Take, for example, Judah and Tamar, the parents of Perez. Tamar was a Canaanite, and was actually Judah’s daughter-in-law. After she was widowed from two of Judah’s sons, she posed as a prostitute to get Judah to sleep with her, and became pregnant. (See Genesis 38.)
Rahab was a Canaanite, and by some accounts a prostitute, who hid the spies that had come to check out the city to overthrow it. And Ruth, though a woman of fine character, was from Moab, a nation that God had made off limits for His people.
Solomon was born to “the wife of Uriah,” who married David after they committed adultery, and plotted to have her husband murdered because he wouldn’t sleep with her while on leave from the army and provide cover for their illicit pregnancy.
Even though Jesus had a whole line of kings in His genealogy, very few of them were good and God-fearing, and some of them were downright evil! From idolatrous Solomon, to stupid Rehoboam, to wicked Manasseh, to Joram, who was such a terrible king that when he died the writer of Israel’s history recorded his epitaph as, “He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” (2 Chronicles 21:20 NIV)
Jesus was not disqualified by His “iffy” background or his unsavory ancestry. Instead, He was God’s Son from the moment of His conception in His very human mother. And, as such, He served God wholeheartedly His entire life. He never dwelt on where He had come from. He lived as who He was, and focused His whole life on what the Father wanted Him to do.
In the same way, many of us have not only some unsavory ancestors, but also some unsavory history in our BC days. And we carry that shadow of our past around with us, and find that it can often get in our way. The self-image of many Christians is that of a worthless sinner, even after we have been born again of God.
But from the very moment that we came to Jesus, we are born anew. God makes us into a new creation, a transformed person, who is being continually reshaped into the image of Jesus. Our past provides our testimony, but, because of our transformation, it doesn’t define our future. Like the apostle Paul, who in his BC days soiled his hands with the blood of many saints, we are reborn as legitimate children of God. We are transformed into salt and light, made into powerful emissaries of the kingdom of God, ministers of reconciliation, who have gospel seed to sow everywhere we go. We are reborn, recreated to be like our Savior, wholeheartedly serving our Father, and doing His will every day of our lives.
Father, it is amazing how thoroughly You can change a life. I know that You transformed me in a moment, reworking my heart, and changing the entire direction of my life. You changed me and made me Your own dearly loved child, and you enabled me to be part of Your plan to help other people find that same transformation. Help me, Lord, to live as Your child for as many days as You give me. Help me to wholeheartedly serve You, and to devote myself to helping others to find the same transformation in their own lives as I have experienced in mine. Amen.