The Family Line of Jesus
Open Your Bible
Matthew 1:1-17, Jeremiah 33:19-26, Romans 8:15-17
When I was sixteen, I was interested in finding romance. So naturally, I memorized the book of Matthew. Our church competed in teen Bible quizzing, and I thought it would help me to get a boyfriend if I was the best at Bible-quizzing. I wanted to impress a particular boy, and also triumph over him in competition. (Is this not what the teenage boys are looking for?) I had this whole genealogy eagerly memorized, so if I was ever asked, “Who was the father of Nahshon?”, I could be ready to gorgeously shout out, “Amminadab!” Believe it or not, this wasn’t enormously successful with the gentlemen callers. However, I accidentally fell in love with Matthew’s Gospel.
Every name in the genealogy feels important and special to me because I took the time to memorize it. The connection between each father and son mattered desperately to me at the time. It taught me to appreciate the tangle of genealogies like the tangle of my own human relationships—and why they matter.
The first biblical genealogy is in Genesis 4, featuring both murderers and musicians, and after that the Bible is filled with these capsule stories of families. Genealogies have all kinds of people—probably like your own family tree—and one of the things we learn from these lists is that God cares about people. He cares about all of our hilarious, adorable, smelly, embarrassing, ridiculous families. He cares about our details and our individual stories.
Look at Matthew’s genealogy for Christ, rounded out with: “… and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Christ” (Matthew 1:16). His genealogy is divided into three sections: Abraham to David, David to the Babylonian exile, and from the exile to Christ. Already, it’s more manageable because we can look at the family line of Christ in terms of God’s work in three movements. He is established as: the son of Abraham—the son of the promised covenant; the son of David—the son of the king; and finally, He is the promise to a people living in darkness. God is showing us how He keeps His promises.
While the Creator of the world was redeeming our souls by sending His Son, He is also sending us the message that He cares deeply about people—collectively, yes, but also individually and one-at-a-time. He cares enough to include specific names of people. He is redeeming us not as nameless, faceless, wretched souls, but as the colorful and complicated people we are. He uses genealogies to tell us exactly who Jesus is and where He came from, including all the earthy details. And by telling us precisely who Jesus is, He reminds us that He cares about the details in our own lives.
What great joy we have because Jesus is exactly who He says He is. As we gather this week, we can rejoice in a God who keeps His promises and cares for all the complicated, wonderful, regular folks in our stories too.