We all have an interest in where we came from. We are also interested in other people’s stories. We ask each other, “Where did you grow up?” and “Who are your parents?” Yet, sometimes we may withhold some details in our family tree or the events surrounding a loved one’s conception and birth. Not Matthew. In the opening of his gospel, he stuns the world with an unlikely list of names found in Jesus’ family tree. There is no pattern of righteous, just a list of everyday people. Matthew wants us to see what kind of people God chooses to work with. I am surprised and yet I’m not.
You may not be surprised by the names in Matthew 1 because you are the first person in your family to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Even so, you may be skeptical of your ability to share the love of Christ because of the “undesirable” parts of your story. You didn’t grow up with a spiritual pedigree. But that is ok, neither did Jesus.
Jesus’ lineage is royal and Matthew makes sure to point that out multiple times in his gospel, more than any other gospel writer. He could have chosen to only highlight the faithful, successful, Jewish men, but he doesn’t. Along with heroes Matthew includes in his list adulterers, prostitutes, gentiles, and women. The list includes wicked kings who fathered good kings.
Matthew is not teaching us that we do not need to pursue godliness and faithfulness. What he wants us to understand is that a genuine part of our faith is knowing that despite of where we come from, despite our family history and past failures, we can stand is awe of God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
When your story causes you to shrink away, Jesus’ story causes you to stand.
Your name means something to Jesus. Your name is important, because each name in Jesus’ lineage matters. Your name may not be recognized publicly for your good deeds and service to others. You may feel as though you are cast aside and unnoticed, but God notices you.
You may believe that God is unlikely to use you, but your name is on God’s list. Right there with David, and Ruth, and Rahab.
The people in Matthew chapter one are not perfect, far from it. Each name represents not only God’s ability to use everyday people but his desire to do so.
Each name in Jesus’ lineage moves God’s story of love and grace forward and he does the same with yours. Not only does your faith in Jesus add your name to Abraham’s family, God desires to use you to showcase his grace as a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
During Christmas we want something new, like a new gift.
God sent Jesus as a gift to begin something new.
You may not have a spiritual lineage but the birth of Jesus means that a new story can be born in you.
When God starts something new he works with you. You are on his list.
How have you seen God work with unlikely, everyday people?
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