In preparation for Christmas, a Sunday School teacher told her children to write on small slips of paper the kind of gift the baby Jesus could use. They were to drop these slips in a box near the classroom crib. Some of the children misunderstood. Instead of the name of the gift, they put actual gifts. In the box the teacher found a can of baby food, a teddy bear, a toy truck, a pair of mittens and a disposable diaper. At the classroom party, the children were to “show and tell” their gifts to Jesus. The little girl who gave the diaper said: “Jesus was a real baby. Real babies need diapers.”
Many times, in our culture and times we forget that Jesus was a real person. We see the baby on the front of Christmas cards and we see the child in the manger and we are comforted by this Jesus because we are surrounded by images we know are not real. We see things on television that we know aren’t real and we dismiss them as either good or bad images and we move on with our “real” lives. Jesus was a real baby. Real babies need diapers, real babies cry. In the song, Away In A Manger, the cattle are lowing the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes? Why? I am quite sure that the little Lord Jesus cried plenty if the cows woke him up.
Jesus was a real baby who became a real man who died on a real cross for real people in real time. We must understand that while Jesus was a real person of whom no one took a picture, God has given us something to recognize and meet Jesus in a very real way in this passage. God made a list, we should check it twice.
Why should we check it twice? Why is a list of names important? Because the legal genealogy of the King of Kings is recorded here and while you may think it has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with you, and rather than passing over it we should pour over this list of names and we will joyfully conclude that we are involved in the saving of the World done by a real God, giving his real son, for real sinners ending in real joy.
God Keeps His Promises.
Jesus is called the Christ. Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word for Messiah, so if you have read a translation with the word Messiah that is a more literal reading of that word. Where is this concept first described? Genesis 3:15-17. Romans 8 says that the creation that was subjected to futility, waits for the revealing of the children of God because in the day when the Lord over creation returns with his children, the earth will be renewed from decay to everlasting life like the sons of God who stand upon it. Do you see how the genealogy of Jesus has everything to do with you, child of God? God made a promise, and God keeps his promises.
We also read about the Son of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18). The phrase Son of Abraham speaks of the Jewishness of Jesus, as a son of Abraham. The whole call of Abraham involved the blessing of the world through his seed, and Galatians says that the seed of Abraham is not just a plural seed, but one seed, Jesus Christ, through whom we are blessed. Read Galatians 3: 7-9, 16.
“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.”
Do you see how the genealogy of Jesus has everything to do with you, son and daughter of Abraham? God made a promise, and God keeps his promises.
Jesus is also said to be the son of David (2 Samuel 7:11b-13). Son of David refers to Jesus’ kingly right to the throne (Acts 2:25-39). Do you see how the genealogy of Jesus has everything to do with you, children of the king? God made a promise, and God keeps his promises.
God Uses Sinners to Accomplish Sacred Goals. (I am using John MacArthur’s numbering):
One Woman: Mary (1:16; Luke 1:26-38, 46-48) Mary is a normal, humble, unknown woman who accepted the will of God upon her through no merit of her own.
Two Men: Abraham and David (2,6-7) Abraham: This great “man of faith” twice lied about his wife. He was scared and told two different kings on two different occasions that his wife was in fact his sister. He doubted the promise of God and tried to accomplish it on his own by having a child with Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant as well. Yet God said that it was through Abraham that all the nations of the world would be blessed. Have you ever doubted the plans of God? Have you ever tried to force God to do something on your agenda rather than his? What about David? David was “the man after God’s own heart”, yet he committed adultery with Bathsheba, murdered her husband, was a terrible father, and just barely survived a military coup lead by his own rebellious son! God still promised an eternal rule for the descendants of David and in Christ it is accomplished.
Three Groups of People: Generations (17)
- Abraham to David: Idolatry, wanderings, enslavement, deliverance and the beginning of the covenants between God and his people.
- David to Deportation: The establishment of the monarchy, spiritual decline, rebellion, idolatry, wickedness and judgment from the hand of God.
- Deportation to Deliverer: In the exile the need for the messiah became real and it is after they have returned to Israel, that the Messiah comes to them and they reject him, crucifying him on a cross and yet, God still offers hope for all who would believe.
Four Outcasts: Tamar; Rahab; Ruth; Bathsheba (3, 5, 7)
- Tamar: The Canaanite daughter in law of Judah. Her husband and his brother died and her father in law promised that his youngest son would marry her so and raise up children in his brother’s name, but Judah failed to keep his promise and she disguised herself and seduced him and she bore children by him instead. I promise this is not a script from Desperate Housewives! Look it up, Genesis 38!
- Rahab: Rahab was also a gentile and a prostitute by profession. She hid the Israelite spies in Jericho and when the Israelites took the city she was spared and married an Israelite and bore children, apparently becoming quite a godly woman for she gave birth to and raised Boaz, the godly landowner in the book of Ruth who subsequently married Ruth, a woman of Moab.
- Ruth: Ruth married an Israelite previously, but he died and she was still without children and through a series of sovereign events, she met Boaz who married her and she became the great grandmother of David, the king. Pretty cool, huh?
- Bathsheba: The passage only calls her the wife of Uriah, as a reminder of the disgrace of her and David’s behavior. It is not as if she didn’t know where the palace was and it was not like David didn’t know where the house of one of his mighty men was located. They were both in blatant sin when this occurred and yet she is included in the line of the Messiah!
Conclusion: The genealogy of Jesus has everything to do with us because God keeps his promises and God uses sinful people to accomplish sacred goals. There is hope in this list of names because you and I are just like these people. We are sinful, dirty, disgusting people by nature, and God included our kind of people in the genealogy of the King of Kings. Why would we get this idea in our heads that in order to come to Jesus I have to clean myself first? No, Jesus makes it clear in the 9th chapter of this same book, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners!” If he used sinners in his grace as his forerunners and fathers, why would he not allow sinners to be his descendants? Take heart this Christmas and worship the savior who came to save sinners and while we were yet sinners, died for the ungodly that we might know him and have a part in this glorious list of names. If the list were to continue, would your name be on it? I pray that is so.