When I first began reading the Christmas story, I’d always start at Matthew 1:18, “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about”. A few years ago, I decided to read the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew 1: 1-17, and I was beautifully reminded how gracious, merciful, and loving God is to us. How thoughtful and compassionate. How overwhelmingly sweet. How grateful I am that God stopped my skipping and put a spotlight on the people on that list.
I find kindred spirits in that genealogy…people who were weak, disobedient, and chose to turn their back on their faithful Father. God put broken people in the line of Christ so that we could understand that no matter our failings, God doesn’t kick us out of the family.
See, I have voices that wander around in my brain that tell me I’m not enough, I’m a failure, I’m weak, I’m a mess, I’m unworthy, I’m not lovable. I’m not capable, wise, or discerning. I’m only worthy of scraps from the table rather than sitting at the banquet.
These are definitely not from my Father. These are thoughts to take captive. Bind up and toss away. They are awful untruths that do not define me. They only fill me with fear and give me a hopeless perspective that no child of the King should have.
Throughout the years, I’ve made lists and even written about who we are in Christ…who I am and Whose I am. I think I could jot down a fair number off the top of my head. Sometimes I wonder if I just think that those descriptors are only true of the Believers who live lives that are not fraught with missteps and mistakes. But then I look at the lineage of Jesus, full of sinners and scoundrels – just ordinary people like us – and I am reminded that God finds us all valuable and worthy, that God’s love is not just for the successful, seemingly sinless people. He loved us so much that He gave Jesus a record of ancestors that we can all relate to pretty perfectly because they are imperfect just like us.
Here are just a few to consider….
Judah was Joseph’s brother. Joseph had a story of tragedy and redemption that is awe-inspiring, but his brother Judah is in the line of the Redeemer. Judah, who sold his brother into slavery, allowed his father to believe his beloved son Joseph was dead, and slept with a prostitute who turned out to be his widowed daughter-in-law (yuck) (Genesis 37-38).
Her name is not listed in Matthew, but Judah’s mom was Leah, the one less beautiful than her sister Rachel, the one whose husband was tricked into marrying her, the one whose husband preferred her sister more, the one who knew loneliness and hurt (Genesis 29).
Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho. She hid the Israelite spies, helped them escape, and saved her entire family by trusting in the Lord (Joshua 2-6). Her son, Boaz, married Ruth, a widowed Moabite who had followed her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Israel. Moabites were pagans who did not worship God, but Ruth did. Her son was King David’s great-grandfather, Obed.
David was a “man after God’s own heart” and a hot mess. An adulterer, murderer, and father who did not protect or defend his daughter, Tamar, when her half-brother Amnon raped her. His children struggled and his family fell apart because although he loved the Lord, he did not always follow Him well.
King David’s son, Solomon, was the product of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. Although she is referred to as Uriah’s wife in Jesus’ lineage, not David’s wife. Uriah deserves to be mentioned – he had been one of David’s Mighty Men whose loyalty to both David and his men was admirable. David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, had him killed, and then took his wife as his own. Solomon struggled with lust and the number of women in his life was astonishing!
And, maybe the most poignant for me, are all the people I don’t know anything about…all the “nobodies” who are somebody because God loved them fiercely, completely, and put them in the lineage of Jesus. We are those somebodies because God chose us. All our hang-ups and hurts, all our bruises and brokenness, all our insufficiencies and insecurities, all our off-base thinking and off-hand comments, all our actions, and reactions made in haste without thought, all our trips into temptations and swings into sin…none of those keep God from loving us, using us, and making us His own.
If we could only grasp the depth of God’s love for us. If we could only understand how deeply, passionately, and completely we are loved. God’s love is never unfaithful, never hurtful, never condemning, never wrong. He doesn’t love us in spite of who we are…He loves us as we are…His precious children. His dear ones. The apples of His eye. Chosen by Him for Him. He sacrificed Himself to take on the penalty of our sin. Thank you, Lord! But, He also was born and lived and died for us because He wants us to be His…to know His love, His presence, His peace, His hope, His joy. He wants us to know Him and by knowing Him, love Him.
And now, we are His children! In His family just like all those amazingly imperfect people in that geneology of Jesus.
What wondrous love is this!