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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Family Tree

In our Sunday morning Bible study on Matthew we covered the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. There are many interesting names in this genealogy – some known and some unknown to us. The four women Matthew mentions are all notable. Tamar played the harlot and her sordid story is recorded in Genesis 38. Rahab was a prostitute. Her story is in Joshua 2. Ruth was a Moabitess, not an Israelite, so not one of God’s chosen people. Her story is in Ruth. Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite when David desired her and took her for himself, even making arrangements for Uriah to be killed in battle. You can read about her in 2 Samuel 11-12.

Many of us have family members that we aren’t all that proud of. Maybe even ashamed of. We would probably try to erase murderers, prostitutes, liars, thieves, adulterers and other unsavory characters from our family tree. Not so with Jesus.

Jesus’ genealogy does just the opposite. Matthew lists some ancestors of Jesus that no one could be proud of. He reminds us that Jesus, the sinless Messiah, descended from sinners and came for sinners. Jesus said: “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)

Martin Luther observed, “Christ is the kind of person who is not ashamed of sinners – in fact, he even puts them in his family tree … If the Lord does that here, so ought we to despise no one … but put ourselves right in the middle of the fight for sinners and help them.”

This list of sinners in Matthew 1 may make us a bit uncomfortable. However, it should actually bring us comfort. It reassures us that Jesus, who was not ashamed to reveal the sins of his human ancestors, who came to seek and to save the lost, who shed his blood for the sins of the whole world, includes you and me among those for whom He died. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

We may be ashamed of our brothers and sisters, mom and dad, uncles and aunts. Not Jesus. How comforting that the Bible records for us: “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” (Hebrews 2:11)

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