Matthew begins the New Testament and his particular Gospel with a long list of names. For most people, this chapter is not thrilling reading. However, if we pause and consider the people listed in Matthew’s genealogy, we can rejoice in this truth — Jesus is not embarrassed by his sordid family tree.
Consider the men.
Abraham saves his skin by encouraging his bride to be taken into another man’s harem. He commits this sin twice.
Isaac has not the same interests as his Heavenly Father. He prefers Esau over Jacob, and this is despite God’s clear revelation.
Jacob is a swindling liar.
Judah is the covenant-breaking patriarch who sleeps with a prostitute. Later, he hypocritically condemns her to be burned.
David is the “man after God’s heart” who proves himself to be the “man after another man’s wife.” At one point in his life, he is the arrogant, abusive, and apathetic adulterer. Then, to this sin he adds the murder of one of his closest confidants.
And though we don’t know equal amounts of information about all the fellows listed in Jesus’ genealogy, this we do know:
- All are children of Adam.
- All are self-worshiping idolaters infected by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
- All prove to be proficient in sin.
- All are wholly unholy in God’s sight.
There is not one righteous — not even one.
Consider the women.
Tamar is a spurned widow who takes matters into her own hands. She becomes an incestuous harlot and seduces her own father-in-law.
Rahab is a nightlife professional. She makes her living through selling her body. “Harlot” is on her business card.
Next is the “wife of Uriah.” Bathsheba is abused by the state. She is abused by her God-provided king. She is impregnated by one who is not her husband, but then she seems to passively participate in the ruse. Needless to say, she is not reputable; she is not even named.
Ruth is introduced to us as an accursed, pagan Moabite. She is the ultimate outsider. To a Jew, this is the sort of family heir one would like to hide and not highlight.
Then there is Mary. In regard to worship, she is regenerate. In regard to sexuality, she is chaste. In regard to revelation, she is obedient. However, in regard to her reputation, she appears to be used goods. Her story of “virgin conception” is believed by Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Joseph, but everyone else is convinced she has been in improperly touched.
Consider the grace.
Jesus is the Second Person of the Godhead who sovereignly determined and directed his parentage. He could have come from blue-blood, scandal-free worshipers, but he chose not to do so.
Jesus is the Word who sovereignly directed his biography. He could have chosen to hide his scandalous family heritage, but he airs their dirty laundry in the Old Testament and associates with these men and women in his genealogy.
Jesus is the Friend who is not embarrassed to be surrounded by such sordid sinners. Even before he comes to earth, he makes his reputation as a “product of sinners.” Then, in his life, he proves to be the ultimate “friend of sinners.” Quick he is to associate with harlots, adulterers, murderers, thieves, and abusers. He is tight with anyone who confesses their heinousness.
Jesus is the Sovereign King, who, while not condoning sin, never wastes any of it. All their scandals are part of his master-plan. And in the end, everything works out for his glory, his good, and the good of his kingdom. All is fulfilled according to his plan.
Start 2021 by admitting your sin. Boast not about genealogy, ethnicity, morality, or religiosity. Say it loud but not proud, “There is nothing good that dwells within me.” See yourself as another reprobate born of Adam.
Start 2021 by resting in your Savior. Jesus knows you better than you know yourself, and he loves you more than you love yourself. He has seen the worst of your past, present, and future days, and nothing can affect his compassion towards you. Admit your sin. Call out to Jesus. He will remind you of his all-sufficient sacrifice and never-fluctuating grace. You …
repugnant harlot, adulterer, murderer, thief, or abuser
reputable minister, elder, deacon, leader, or worshiper
You are loved, graced, and blessed more than you can imagine. Don’t listen to the devil and his friends. Don’t disrespect the Savior’s affection for you. Don’t disbelieve his radical, full, and free grace. Repent of your unbelief and swim in his longsuffering mercy and grace!
Start 2021 by anticipating Christ’s ministerial advancement. Jesus loves to be with sinners. Jesus loves to save sinners. And then, Jesus loves to utilize the sordid sinners with whom he communes. You are not used goods. You are not sidelined. You have not sinned away your responsibility and joy. Yes, you have done what you have done. Yes, you are who you are. And yes, you are a holy, sanctified, priest called to by Jesus to his service. Look back at 2020. See your sin. Hate your sin. Cry over your sin. Run from it with all your might. But then, look at your Christ, and get busy being used by Christ in his service this year.
Matthew 1:1-25 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 17 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. 18Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.