Sitting here on this sunny morning with tea, worship music, a lighted Christmas tree, and so much joy in my heart, I don’t think my college self would have believed this woman would have ever existed. College freshman Katie had just been broken up with by her boyfriend, the man she thought she would marry, was headed home from her first semester of college where she still didn’t entirely feel like she fit in, and just felt utterly lost. Her heart was empty and broken, and she didn’t believe she would ever be happy again. I remember lamenting to my sister and sobbing into her arms. She told me it would all be ok, but I didn’t believe her. Oh sweet Katie of the past, if only you would have had a looking glass to see me now. Now don’t get me wrong, my life is far from perfect. I have my problems and woes. Sometimes, I lose my temper too quickly or become frustrated and scared. I struggle with anxiety, depression, worry, and doubt. I have arguments with family, friends, and coworkers, but overall my heart is filled with joy, happiness, and peace. Though it’s not perfect, I’ve found a place where I belong, even in my shame, brokenness, and weirdness. I have found a place where I am loved for who I am! My friends, that all thanks to the love of Jesus.
This Christmas season, I have been reflecting over the story of Jesus’ family. Not only is my church doing a series on it, but I randomly picked Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift as my seasonal devotional this year. If you haven’t gone through this specific devotional, I highly recommend it, and just in case this is you, I’ll give you a brief overview: Ann goes through the genealogy of Jesus and discusses each person’s journey and their interaction with God. Both these studies start in Matthew 1.
“This is 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,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father Rehoboam
Rehoboam the father of Abijah
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
And Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
After exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is call the Messiah.
Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon and fourtness from the exile to the Messiah” (Matthew 1: 1-17, NIV)
Yikes! That’s a long passage. I don’t know about you, but I typically skim or skip over the genealogies in the Bible, especially here in Matthew; I dread it. If you just did that, it’s ok, go back and read it again! When my church announced that we would be going through Jesus’ genealogy, I thought oh no. But every time that little “oh no” happens, God grows me the most!
Oh sweet Jesus you are so good to me, even though you challenge my heart so deeply sometimes!
As I’ve gone through these stories both through our church sermons and my personal time spent with the Lord, I’ve seen the brokenness and the sorrow experienced by each member of Jesus’ family tree. But every story in the Bible and in Jesus’ genealogy whispers His name and paints the most beautiful love story ever told: there is hope. The Bible declares the story of a Prince who left His throne to rescue the ones He loved most dearly: YOU and me! I encourage you to get to know the names listed above. There is no way I could write a blog post encompassing all of them. So instead, let’s “unwrap” one of the genealogy tree branch together.
One of the most significant stories for me has been Rahab’s story told in Joshua:
“Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. ‘Go, look over the land,’ he said, ‘especially Jericho.’ So they went and entered the house of prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. The king of Jericho was told, ‘Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.’ So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: ‘Bring out the ment who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.’ But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.’ (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, ‘I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them – and that you will save us from death.’” (Joshua 2: 1-13)
Rahab, a prostitute, is so moved by God’s greatness and His majesty that she wants to do anything and everything she can to help the spies. She is so moved by the God of Israel, and she has only heard the stories of what He has done. This woman, who is an outsider, a loner, a sinner, who has had a hard life, hears the goodness and faithfulness of God and comes to faith.
Now look back at the lineage of Jesus: there is Rahab in the beginning. Little did she know, that her sinful heart would be instrumental in bringing the promised King into the world. Jesus’ family is full of the excluded, the disgraced, and broken sinners. So, sweet friend, just like Katie of years past (and let’s face it… now too), there is a place for you in God’s kingdom – in His family. He offers sonship and daughtership to each and everyone of us. Not only that, but Matthew specifically points out the brokenness in his family tree, to teach us that Jesus came for the rotten sinners like us. None of us can make it on our own; all of us are outsiders and downtrodden people. It doesn’t matter how weird you are, how much darkness is in you, you and I are both welcome at the table. There is room for us.
Dear friends, during this season, we celebrate the arrival of the long awaited Messiah who has come to establish the kingdom of God to bring us out of our exile and experience the restoration, home, and hope that He promises. All of history and the making of Israel points to this baby, who brings us fulfillment, joy, and a place. The only question that remains is will we accept the greatest gift we’ve ever been given: this baby in the manger, who later would died on a cross to take the curse from us. I pray sweet friends, that if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior that you would find Him this Christmas season. Please feel free to reach out and ask questions! We’re all on a faith journey, so I also pray with my spiritual brothers and sisters who do know Him and follow Him, that He would renew our faith this season, that we would make a room in our heart for Him, and choose to follow Him day by day as we look to this new year ahead.