The genealogy of Jesus. You can’t even begin the New Testament without at least skimming it, putting our best speed reading glasses on and plowing straight through. At least we might pretend to plow through. If you’re like me, you might read through, get to the end of it, then wonder if you even read it at all.
But plow through it we do. Because you can’t read the Bible without occasionally going through various genealogies. And you can’t even begin to read the New Testament without starting, immediately, with the genealogy of Jesus.
And what a genealogy it is!! If we were doing our own genealogy on the many internet websites making millions by providing this service, how many of the characters in Jesus’ family tree would we pretend didn’t exist?? If Jesus were alive today, running even for mayor of one our major cities, how much gossip would he endure?
Right from the beginning, Jacob. He would have needed an ankle bracelet for us to keep tabs on him today. Judah and Tamar are there, Tamar the widowed daughter-in-law of Judah who tricked her father in law into thinking she was a prostitute so he would sleep with her. Or maybe she didn’t try to trick him at all, maybe he just assumed that’s what she was because that’s what he wanted her to be. I don’t know, go read Genesis 3, it’s really some story.
How about David, the giant killer? One minute, killing Goliath, chopping odd his head and carrying it to Jerusalem. Writing psalms, giving praise to the lord. Sparing Saul’s life when he could have killed him and claimed the crown by force. But on the other hand, sleeping with his captains wife, then plotting to have him killed in battle to cover up his sin.
All these named have a story, and the story is not always clean. Really, this is the bloodline of the Messiah? We often wonder and comment on the rag tag band Jesus called his disciples. We marvel at how he uses simple fisherman to help bring about his kingdom. We know that if Jesus can use a thug tax collector like Matthew, then there must be something we might be useful for. If Jesus didn’t reject Judas, knowing he would betray him, then he certainly will welcome us.
But what about the other side of this. What did the disciples see in Jesus? Look at this family tree. This is the ancestry of the Messiah? We are going to follow who?? We’re not even sure who who his real father is, are we?
Yet follow they do. Jesus gives the call, and they never turn back. “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Matthew 4:18-22 ESV. Seriously, what were these guys following? Jesus, by his own account, was homeless. “Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”” Matthew 8:18-20 ESV. He even came from Nazareth, and we know how that one horse town was viewed – ““Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.” John 1:46 NIV.
What were these guys thinking? What did they see? Peter and Andrew, James and John, these guys at least had their fishing business. We know Peter, at least, was married. Matthew, like Zacchaus later on, was one of the wealthiest guys in town. None of these men, we assume, was homeless.
But they all walked away to follow Jesus. And Jesus made no secret of the cost. “Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”” Matthew 8:21-22 ESV. Right from the start, the cost was high. The pay was low. What a group they had, beginning with their leader. We wonder how he chose them. But – how in the world did they choose Him?
How are we still choosing him? 2000 years later, we are still waiting for his return. A crucified Galilean carpenter, we barely comprehend his death and resurrection anymore. We believe he was raised on the third day, but we can’t quantify it. We can’t explain it. And as much as anything, we want to be able to explain it all, tie it in a nice pretty package, put a bow on it, give it to our neighbors as a Christmas gift.
We’ve been disillusioned and sometimes betrayed by his church. We have nice soft pillows to lay our heads on. We have big homes, we have nice cars. We have the world, almost literally, at our fingertips. What do we need him for?
Yet we still seek Him. Because we know, outside of him it’s all meaningless. Because we know, instinctively, like it or not, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:26 ESV.
We have it all. Big houses, nice cars, beautiful wife. But every day, we come to know this truth discovered long ago – ““Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”” Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV. Without Him it’s all meaningless. We’ve gained the whole world, but we lie awake at night, heads on our soft pillows in our comfortable beds in our big houses, not even able to sleep. We’ve become so addicted to our stuff, to getting more stuff, to keeping all the stuff we have, we can’t even sleep at night thinking about what we might lose, or might not be able to get if things don’t go just as we want them to.
We are addicted to stuff. We are addicted to drugs. We are addicted to alcohol. We are addicted to gambling. We are addicted to food. We are addicted to sex. We are addicted to watching other people have sex.
We have the whole world, but we are losing our souls.
So, we still seek the crucified carpenter with the questionable family tree. Just as his original disciples heard the call, we hear the call. His disciples left all they had to follow him, and they spent the rest of their lives convincing people He was (and is) the King.
He spent his life dying for people like Peter. Dying for people like John. Dying for people like Matthew. So that we might know, if he had a place for people like Matthew, like Peter, like a woman caught in adultery, he just might have a place for us.
We might not know what He sees in us. We barely remember what we saw in Him. But we do remember he gave His life dying to save us. Save us from our sin. Save us from our addiction. Save us from our fear. Save us from our tears. Save us from our pain.
Save us He did. If we will only accept his salvation. If we will only choose Him.
Will we choose Him. Or will we choose our big house, fast car, and soft pillow? Will we choose our stuff and lose our souls??
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”
Matthew 1:1-17 ESV