In reading the birth stories of Jesus during this Advent season, it’s important to not skip over the genealogies. I know your eyes glaze over at all the names in Matthew 1 and Luke 3; we tend to skip those lists of fathers and sons, who begat whom, and so on. These passages don’t make the program at the kids’ Christmas pageant.
But we need to pay attention to the names. We need to read the names out loud and consider the relatives of our Lord. We should reflect on their meaning for us as children of God and followers of the Christ.
Tamar and Judah, father and daughter-in-law; yuk. Rahab – you know her better by her last name: “The Harlot.” Ruth the Moabitess; in other words, the pagan, idol-worshiping Canaanite. David, Solomon, and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. Manasseh – the Bible says he did more evil than all the bad kings before him combined. This list is full of lying and murder, adultery and idol-worship. One of the lists traces Jesus’ line all the way back to Adam, the OG of all sinners! This is not a fitting genealogy for the Holy Son of God.
Actually, for the Holy Son of God, this is the perfect back story. For the promised Savior of the World, this is the perfect list of relatives. Almighty God sees this mess and he decides he’s going to join it. He’s going to become a part of it. Joseph and Mary fit right into this. Their situation was so awkward and messy, remember? Joseph was trying to figure out how to divorce Mary even as they were on their way to Bethlehem.
God through Christ sees this whole mess and he decides to belong to it. God does not distance from the messes in our lives. He does not withdraw from the mess in your life. He willingly steps into it. He joins us, he becomes us. He jumps right into the middle of the sin and pain and grief in order to redeem it.
That’s the really good news of great joy. No one is so lost and so broken. You are not so far gone or so messed up that you’re somehow beyond God’s reach. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone or how far away you are, how dark it might be or how bad it’s gotten. Our God specializes in the mess. I don’t care how messy your mess is, it doesn’t even phase our Lord Jesus! He’s in! He’s in with you. And for you.
Don’t skip over the genealogies. Those are real names of real people with really messy stories. You’re in there, too. And so is our Lord Jesus.