Are you ashamed of your family tree? If you think you’re embarrassed by the people to whom you’re related, get a load of Jesus’ relatives! The Gospel of Matthew’s genealogy of our Savior is astounding in its ugliness.
There’s Tamar. Tamar? Oh, yeah, right. She posed as a temple prostitute on the side of the road to entice her father-in-law into an incestuous encounter. She hasn’t been on the Christmas card list now for years.
Salmon, the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Rahab? Yeah, you probably know her better by her last name: The Harlot. Rahab, the pagan, idol-worshiping, bacon-loving, Canaanite harlot.
Ruth the Moabitess. Umm… doesn’t God’s law prohibit all Moabites from marrying into his chosen nation? Isn’t the penalty for that something like death and destruction for ten generations?
Bathsheba’s in the list, identified as the wife of Uriah the Hittite. The wording serves to remind us again that she wasn’t rightfully David’s bride and that Uriah was another one of these unclean foreigners in the linage of our Lord.
Look, there’s no pattern of righteousness in the genealogy of Jesus. Sinners galore and them some more! Luke’s genealogy traces Jesus’ line all the way back to Adam, the original sinner. Bad kings. Bad fathers. Even the good kings and heroes in Jesus’ family tree are very capable of dark deeds — lying, murder, adultry, idol worship. We know the awful stories by heart. This is not a fitting genealogy for the Holy Son of God!
Actually, it’s the perfect genealogy for the Son of God.
This long list of good and bad, Jews and Gentiles, righteous and sinners is so awkward. It’s startling in its honesty. Nobody’s trying to cover anything up here. What’s astonishing is that God looks right at this mess and he jumps right into the big middle of it. He joins it. He embraces it. He becomes part of it in order to redeem us.
I have no doubt that whatever you’re doing this weekend for Christmas is going to involve some kind of family time. And I’m certain that during this family time you’ll be reminded of some of the weirdness of your relatives. Some of the problems. Some of the mess. You might be dealing with a brand new mess that has just been revealed. Or your family might exist in the middle of several, on-going, interconnected messes that make life just absolutely miserable.
Somehow, our gracious God saw value and glory through the mess. He looked at our sins and failures and saw some worth. He didn’t shy away from associating with it. He joined it without hesitation. And he saved it.
To have eyes like our Father is to see that same beauty in the cousins and uncles and aunts and in-laws we’re sharing meals with this weekend. Don’t avoid the issues. Jump into the middle of the mess with everything you’ve got. These are fallen people, made by God in the image of God for God’s divine purpose. They are all children of God. Ask God today to give you the vision and the strength to see your messed up family the way he sees it. And allow God to work through you to redeem it.