EXPLORING THE WORD
Blessings from the Genealogy of Jesus
By Laurel J. Davis
See Laurel's blog at The Reluctant First Lady
It's pretty fascinating to look at the genealogy of Jesus back to Abraham as Matthew 1:1-17 does, and all the way back to Adam, the very first man ever, as Luke 3:23-28 does. Tracing anyone's family tree can be a world of discovery, as the popularity of ancestry.com and similar lineage search services confirms.
But why is Jesus' lineage so important that God would include it in these Gospel accounts? What's so significant about Jesus' earthly roots?
Christ's earthly genealogy reveals two important lessons — blessings, really — that we can gain about 1) His divine nature — what Jesus is to us; and 2) His divine purpose — what we are to Jesus. These are, of course, related. Understanding Jesus' divine nature sets a foundation for understanding, appreciating and striving to fulfill our role in His divine purpose.
Let's put a pin here for a second to make it clear that "purpose" should not be understood to mean our using God for our own objectives in the Kingdom, but His using us for His objectives in the Kingdom. The terms "purpose," "vision," "destiny" and the like are so mis-used in the professing Christian church today, they've become dangling carrots giving credence to people's selfish ambitions over God's perfect will. It is God's ultimate purpose and for His glory that we should seek to achieve anything out of whatever He calls us to do.
Now, regarding first Christ's divine nature — what Jesus is to us — His earthly genealogy gives historical support for the claim that He is indeed God manifested in the flesh.
One of the cardinal (if not essential) doctrines of Christianity is the virgin birth of Christ — that is, that Jesus was conceived and born without the seed of a man. Isaiah prophesied this fact about the Messiah when he proclaimed, Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), and Jesus of Nazareth is the only fulfillment of that prophesy (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-7; John 1:1-2,14).
Key to this fulfillment is the fact that both Matthew and Luke attribute Jesus' birth as being through His mother Mary and not her husband Joseph, since Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and therefore had no biological (earthly) father. (See the scriptures referenced above.)
Consider, for instance, how Matthew 1:16 is worded: And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of who was born Jesus… . And even though Luke 3:23 calls Jesus Joseph's son, the qualifier is there that says, as was supposed. Read that in relation to Numbers 27:1-11 and 36:1-12, which explain where a wife's lineage would take precedence over her husband's in certain cases and therefore perhaps why Luke would use Joseph's name for Mary's and, in turn, Jesus' bloodline.
So, one blessing we get out of the genealogy of Jesus is the added confidence for our faith that He is in fact God, that He is exactly as John 1:14 asserts Him to be: God Himself manifested in the flesh.
In other words, as God, Jesus truly is to us all that the Bible says He is. He is our Lord. He is our King. He is our Savior. He is our Friend. He is our Healer. He is our Deliverer. He is our Conqueror. He is our Prince of Peace. He loves us. He gave His life for us. He raised Himself from the dead while He was dead. He is coming back. He will reign forever. And we will be with Him forever! Hallelujah!
The second blessing we can get from the genealogy of Jesus comes from what it reveals about our expected part in His divine purpose — who we are to Him. As God who manifested Himself in the flesh, taking upon Himself the body of a man, Jesus understands our human condition. So, He takes us where we are when we surrender ourselves to Him, and then He strengthens us to a point where we are equipped to fulfill His divine purpose.
One of Jesus' most interesting ancestors is Rahab. Yes, Rahab the prostitute. But not only was she a prostitute, she was also a citizen of a foreign people who were enemies of God's chosen people. And yet, God, in His great wisdom and grace, decided to bring forth His only begotten Son from the bloodline of such a person as her. In His divine purpose, He chose to redeem Rahab by putting it in her heart to help the Israelite spies escape certain death, thus setting it up for her own life not only to be spared when He destroyed her people, but also accepted as one of His own.
Then there's King David who got another man's wife pregnant and then added insult to injury against God by having the man killed when his (David's) attempts to cover up the pregnancy failed.
And of course there's Adam, the first man and ultimate ancestor of us all, whose disobedience to his Maker plunged every mortal human being since then into sin.
Yes, the genealogy of Jesus includes prostitutes, adulterers and murderers, among others of ill repute. And yet, the Messiah still feels no shame to be associated with them.
Sure, Jesus' earthly bloodline includes people who were pillars of faith and obedience to God, who consistently walked uprightly without straying or rebelling, who accomplished tremendous things in the name of the Lord, and who set a great example for us to emulate.
But what a blessing it is to realize that, in God's divine purpose, He will still choose to accept whom He will accept even in spite of their weaknesses or outright sin, cleansing them and then using them to fulfill His perfect will.
You see, God still called David the apple of His eye! God still named Rahab, a foreign prostitute, among the likes of Abraham, Moses and Joseph in the great "Hall of Faith" of Hebrews Chapter 11! And God still chose Adam to father the entirety of humankind for all generations upon the earth!
If God feels no shame to accept the imperfect among the people of His only begotten Son's earthly bloodline, then why wouldn't He likewise accept us right where we are? He sees our failings and disobedience and yet still calls us to participate in His perfect plans.
But God won't call the stubborn. The blessing of knowing all the types of people in the genealogy of Jesus is not so we can have an excuse to continue to be weak or rebellious. Rather, it is so we can receive God's favor to stop being that way. The blessing is knowing that God looks ahead of our failings, strengthens us to repent from them, and then equips and guides us towards humble service on His behalf.
So, who is Jesus to us? Our Lord and Savior. And who are we to Jesus? Imperfect people who nonetheless are called by Him to, well, get it together for His name's sake, knowing He feels no shame accepting us in spite of ourselves and equips us to achieve whatever He desires from us for the kingdom and His own glory.
Image Credit: Jacinta Iluch valero; "El rebusco"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Jesus-Christ | Sin-Evil
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Published on 10-31-14