Have you ever been curious about your family tree and your genealogy? I think it’s fascinating to find out who your people are and where they come from. But it also scares me a little; you never know what you are going to dig up, who you’re going to dig up. There are some family skeletons you would rather remain in the closet.
Consider the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Matthew’s genealogy in particular tells more than who Jesus’ ancestors were but a tribute to God’s grace through history as skeletons upon skeletons are revealed.
Matthew 1:1-17 wants us to see that Jesus, the King of Israel, is like no other king on earth. He is a king coming from a sinful royal lineage. After all, the people God chose to be a part of the Messiah’s lineage reveal the wonderful grace of God to provide hope for every sinner.
“Jacob was the father of the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah” (Matthew 1:16)
Jesus’ genealogy started with one woman, Mary. In Mary, God showed His grace by choosing her to be the mother of the messianic King. Although she was a descendant of David who we know despite being a man after God’s own heart (Act 13:14), he was guilty of horrific sins. Contrary to claims of her immaculate conception, that she was conceived without original sin, Mary was just as much a sinner as every other person born but God still chose her.
Before Mary, there were two men:
“The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the song of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1)
David was a sinner. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then conspired to cover his sin with the treacherous murder of her husband.
David’s adultery and poor parenting relinquished tragic results in his family life. When his son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, he did nothing (2 Sam. 13:1-22). That neglect darkened what began to be David’s great reign. As a result, Tamar’s brother Absalom murdered Amnon.
Then there’s Abraham. Though the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11), a man willing to sacrifice his only son after 100 years of waiting he demonstrated cowardice fearing for his life rather than trusting in God in his later years. From here two pagan kings brought Abraham’s wife Sarah into their hands. Why? Because Abraham told them she was his sister out of fear (Genesis 12:11-19). He failed to love and respect his wife and brought shame on her, himself and on the God he claimed to trust and serve.
David and Abraham were sinners, just like you and me. Yet God made Abraham the father of His chosen people and made David father of the royal line from which the Messiah would arise.
Out of Mary, David and Abraham God also used four outcasts to further show the works of His grace through the Messiah’s genealogy.
The first outcast was Tamar, the Canaanite daughter-in-law of Judah. In Genesis 38 she resorted to deception, prostitution, and incest to bare a child. Using a veil, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked Judah into having sexual relations with her. She later bore twin boys, Perez and Zerah. Despite her cunning ways God’s grace fell on her family and they joined in the Messianic line.
The second outcast was Rahab, a Gentile woman who made prostitution her livelihood. In Joshua 2 she put her faith in God and demonstrated it by hiding two men Joshua sent to spy out her city. She became the wife of Salmon and the mother of Boaz – David’s great-grandfather. God spared her life and the lives of her family and brought her into the Messianic line.
Ruth, the wife of Boaz, was the third outcast. Despite being a Moabite and a former pagan God’s grace brought Ruth into the family of Israel. She became the grandmother of Israel’s great king David.
The fourth outcast was Bathsheba. In 2nd Samuel 11 she entered the Messianic line through adultery with David. Although their first son out of their sinful union died, they had Solomon, continuer of the Messianic line.
We see above that all those who entered the Messianic line were sinners and were all a production of God’s ultimate grace. These few were in direct connection to our savior, Jesus Christ.
Matthew wants us to understand that the Gospel is for sinners of all kinds. We may have come from a broken family or a lineage of shame the grace that God brings to all will produce the greatest gift of all, a chance at eternity with HIM. Jesus’ family was far from perfect, but he was made perfect through their imperfection.
Maybe you don’t just have skeletons in your family closet. Maybe you feel you are the skeleton in your family’s closet. This genealogy of grace that we have examined is an invitation for you to come to Jesus and ask him to save you.
“The birth of Christ is not just about a little baby in a manger, it’s the miracle of God becoming man to save mankind” – Pastor Stephen Wright