Why the Genealogy of Jesus Matters

December 19, 2011 — Leave a comment

So, yesterday…for the first time in my ministry, I spoke on the genealogy of Jesus.

I talked about why the genealogy of Jesus matters.  Here’s a sample of what I said.

I have never preached a message on the genealogy of Jesus.

Honestly, I didn’t see much value in a long list of names.

And, if we’re all being honest….how many of us have ever read the genealogies of Jesus?

So, here you go.

 Matthew 1:1-16

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.  And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.  And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

Now, for all of you who skipped over this passage as you read through the Bible, you can officially say you’ve read through the Bible.

Genealogies are kind of like the Rodney Dangerfield of the Bible—they get no respect.  We act as if the genealogies don’t matter, but they do matter and let me tell you why the genealogy of Jesus matters.

Heritage Matters.

Why were these genealogies important to include in the story of the life of Jesus?

First, to the Jewish people (at least in Biblical times), genealogies were very significant. It was important to know where you came from, whose ancestry you followed, what tribe of Israel you descended from.

Second, these genealogies trace Jesus’ ancestry back to David and connect him with the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.

We know from historical records that many of the early Christian evangelists and apostles had Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus memorized.  The works of early Christian writers are filled with references to them. (See R.C. Foster’s, Studies in the Life of Christ, p.265).

Abraham’s legacy is Jesus.

Perez’s legacy is Jesus.

David’s legacy is Jesus.

Asa’s legacy is Jesus.

Josiah’s legacy is Jesus.

What’s your legacy going to be?

If we want to leave a legacy that matters we need to …

Be Humble.

Submit your life and the lives of your family to God.

Be Intentional.

British sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein was once visited in his studio by the eminent author and fellow Briton, George Bernard Shaw. The visitor noticed a huge block of stone standing in one corner and asked what it was for.  “I don’t know yet. I’m still making plans.”  Shaw was astounded. “You mean you plan your work. Why, I change my mind several times a day!”  “That’s all very well with a four-ounce manuscript,” replied the sculptor, “but not with a four-ton block.” Today in the Word, April 5, 1993

Are you being proactive or reactive in this life?

Are you owning your life or is your life owning you?

Life is a gift and we need to be good stewards of our lives.

Be Faithful.

We must believe that God has a plan for our lives.

Embrace the truth of Ephesians 2:10:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We are not accidents.

We are not victims.

We were planned for power.

We were planned for purpose.

We were planned for passion.

We were planned to leave a legacy.

What is your legacy going to be?

You’re determining your heritage with each decision you make every minute of every day.

Back to the genealogy of Jesus…

Jacob’s legacy was Jesus.

Joseph’s legacy was Jesus.

Mary’s legacy was Jesus.

I want my legacy to be Jesus, too.

The Genealogy of Jesus matters because it teaches us that…

People Matter.

This list is made up of ordinary people, just like us.

They weren’t superheroes.

They are ordinary people who became a part of God’s extraordinary plans.

People like…

Jacob, who was a twin.

Hezron was just one of the sons of Reuben.

Little about Ram is known, except that he must have lived when the Israelites were in Egypt.

Ruth, who was not an Israelite, but who chose to follow God instead of the false gods in her homeland, Moab.

Obed was David’s grandfather.

Joseph who was a carpenter.

Mary who was just a young woman who found favor in God’s eyes.

This teaches us that…

All People Matter to God.

This list includes men, women, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, Kings, shepherds, Jews, and Gentiles.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to bless everyone.

Luke 2:10

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Poor people matter to God.

Rich people matter to God.

Majorities matter to God.

Minorities matter to God.

You Matter to God.

Do you know that you matter?

You are God’s masterpiece.

I remember hearing a sermon by a preacher named Mike Breaux a long time ago in which he made us repeat a truth again and again.

 “I matter to God and that’s all that matters to me.”

As my friend Andrew Peterson said of the genealogy of Jesus, “It’s a list of people.  Real people.  People who were good and bad, and somewhere in between, and who were a part of God’s great plan to redeem the world through another real person named Jesus.  Just like you’re a part of God’s plan, no matter who you parents or your grandparents or your great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents are.” (The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats, Andrew Peterson.)

The genealogy of Jesus matters because…

Grace Matters.

One of the reasons that this is a great time of year is because we get to be with our families.

That can be a double-edged sword though, can’t it?

Because most of us have relatives who require a little extra grace, don’t we?

Don’t we all have a Cousin Eddie?

The genealogy of Jesus teaches us that God is Grace-Full.

This genealogy is more than a list of people; it’s a detailed list of God’s amazing grace because there are some people in this list who made some big mistakes.

Someone once said that working up a genealogy is a “preoccupation of those who seek to demonstrate that their forebears were better people than they are.”

Not all of Jesus ancestors were good people who made good decisions.

Let me start with Judah, Tamar, and Perez.

While in Adullam Judah married a Canaanite woman and had three sons. Judah’s first two sons, however, were so wicked that God put them to death!

Judah’s sons who had died weren’t boys; they were men who had both been married. Actually they had married the same woman, though not at the same time. You see the custom was if your older brother died before he could give his wife children, you were to marry that woman in an effort to keep your older brother’s family name going. This is how Tamar came to be married to two of Judah’s sons. After the second son died without giving Tamar any children, Judah promised her his third son when he was old enough to marry. Apparently this was not a promise Judah intended to keep. Perhaps he thought Tamar the “black widow” and didn’t want to lose another son by marrying him off to someone who seemed bad luck to his boys. Tamar of course had nothing to do with her first two husband’s deaths so when she saw that Judah didn’t intend to give her his third son to marry and have children, she took matters into her own hands so that she would not die childless.

One day when Judah went out to sheer his sheep he saw a veiled woman he took to be a prostitute. He propositioned her and slept with her – further proof of how Canaanite ways had rubbed off on Judah. To secure payment from Judah, the woman asked that he entrust to her his staff and seal as collateral. Judah handed over these items and went home. Soon after he sent the promised payment of a young goat but the woman could not be found. The matter was forgotten until three months later when word came to Judah that his daughter-in-law Tamar was pregnant. Since Judah had not married his third son off to her yet he concluded that Tamar was guilty of prostitution and ordered her brought before him to be burned. Before the fires could be lit, however, Tamar held out the staff and seal Judah had given to her three months earlier. Judah was dumbfounded and could only stammer that she was more righteous than he. You see Judah realized that he had been guilty of deception for withholding his son from Tamar. He also now confessed his sin of sexual immorality by sleeping with is daughter-in-law whom he had thought a prostitute. Six months later Tamar gave birth to twins. One of the twins was Perez.

Does it strike you as odd that Perez and Tamar are listed in the genealogy of Jesus?

We cut people out of pictures.

We unfriend people on Facebook.

We right the wrong people out of our families all of the time.

There are a few more people in this list of Christ’s ancestors that would definitely not be invited to Christmas at most of our houses if giving the invitation were up to us.

Rahab.

David and Bathsheba.

Jechoniah—aka, Jehoiachin.

Why weren’t these people cut out of the family picture or unfriended on Facebook?

I think Matthew is trying to set the stage for coming of Jesus, that God was sending this infant Messiah to save his people, that’s why he was to be named Jesus, which means “the Lord saves.” He would bring those who are far from God near to him. It doesn’t matter what our background or heritage is, what sins we have committed in the past, Jesus was coming to transform our lives to turn our hearts back to the Lord. He would bring healing, restore relationships, and set our path straight. He would take our mistakes and our waywardness and accomplish good through them. God passionately cares about every person, and wants them to be his people. The purpose of sending Jesus was so all people could be saved from our sins and past to find new life in him. Isn’t that Good News?

The fact that God included these people in Jesus’ family line also teaches us that the circumstances of your birth don’t determine your eternal future.

It emphasizes the truth that Jesus came to identify himself with and to save sinners like Judah, Tamar, Perez, Jeconiah, you, and me.

We Must be Grace-Full Too.

To Each Other.

We need to show each other grace in this church.  We have a lot of people in a small space. We can get sick and get on each other’s nerves.

To This Community.

I want our church to always be known as the Grace Place.

-J. Evans Christmas Party on Tuesday at 5pm.  We still have gift tags on the tree and we need snacks for the party.

-Random Act of Kindness Cards

-Christmas Night we’re having a Luke 14 dinner to serve people in the community who have no one else and nothing else to do on Christmas.

Why?

People in Greeley matter to God and that’s all that matters to me.

So, there you go.  Hopefully you now know that the genealogy of Jesus matters because it reminds us that heritage matters, people matter, and grace matters.

And, I matter to God and that’s all that matters to me.

Say it again, “I matter—to God—and that’s all—that matters—to me!”

 

 

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