I’m back in Matthew chapter one today, and am overwhelmed by what an ugly genealogy I see. The kings in the later half aren’t feeding the poor, working justice for the people, or leading toward peace. Well, a few are, but most are self-seeking, paranoid leaders who’d rather bask in their opulence than extend mercy and protection for their people.
Rehoboam, Abijah, Jehoram, Ahaz, Manasseh, Amon, Jeconiah and his brothers: they fail. They sacrifice to idols, sometimes sacrifice their own children, they bury the Book of the Law so that it gets lost for years and years, they kill to achieve their purposes, they stone God’s prophets.
Go back to the first half of the genealogy and you’ll find the Patriarchs. Do I need to rehash their shortcomings? The deceit, scheming, and disobedience that permeated their lives?
Two-thirds of the people Matthew lists aren’t people you’d be proud to have in your ancestry line. But they’re here, part of Jesus’s earthly line. And thus, part of our faith heritage.
It’s no accident that Matthew spends the first seventeen verses chronicling names. We would do well to slow down and read each name, remember his story, and be humbled by the broken lives God uses.
When we read these names, we recall the years of longing and horror that led to the birth of Christ. We recommit ourselves to Christ’s mercy–because only his grace works in us to bring about something good from our lives. We rejoice that God uses the imperfect, the fallible, and EVEN those who intentionally oppose him, for his purposes.
How sweet the irony of redemption: that those who hated Yahweh gave birth to sons and those sons to more sons, and then came Christ, the Savior for all.
If you feel you’re not qualified to journey to the manger, think again. You must come. You have no where else to turn with your sin and baggage and discouragement.