Perhaps some of you received a DNA test kit for Christmas. You know, the test that tells you where your ancestors came from. When you watch the commercials the folks who receive their results are always so excited to know that some percentage of their heritage is from an unexpected place. I have been intrigued to a point but when I have questions, I simply go to the genealogy my grandmother gave each of us and I can go backwards into the 1600’s at least. There are lots of Scandinavian names like Roose and Hasrslav. And the names of tiny towns and farms, some of which no longer exist. I can go to early Boston and discover that I had a relative in the 1600’s who was a pastor. His name was Ichabod Wiswall.
Somehow over the course of this crazy year people are doing all sorts of things to stay connected. Researching genealogy has been one way to do that. It is good to feel and be connected to something bigger than ourselves. We see that in scripture as well. Many times, in the Old Testament we come upon long, ponderous lists of names, many of which we cannot pronounce. It was important for the members of each of the twelve tribes of Israel to keep connected. Their heritage within their tribe was often more important than their heritage as an Israelite. And for those who were of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, it was even more important. Because if you could not prove you were a Levite by genealogy, you could not serve in the temple.
In the New Testament we see two separate genealogies for Jesus. The genealogy in Matthew's gospel goes all the way back to Abraham. This ancestry was linked to God's covenant promises to Israel. First, we see Abraham where God made the covenant that established Israel as God's chosen people. And it affirmed that all people would be blessed through his family. We see David here, who was the anointed king of Israel. Here too is the promise of an ‘anointed one’ who would rule God's people. Jesus was a common name. It means Joshua in Hebrew, meaning Yahweh saves. And Christ, which means anointed, points back towards king David, Gods anointed king. There are five women listed in this genealogy: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. This is highly unusual because lineage was typically traced through men. Three of the women, Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba were of questionable character. And two of them, Rahab and Ruth were gentiles. Matthew wrote to people who were believers but had lived most of their lives as Jews. He wrote to prove that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy concerning Him.
Luke gives us the other genealogy of Jesus. He traces his genealogy all the way back to Adam, the son of God. Luke wrote to a very different audience, primarily gentile Christians who had already been taught about Jesus. Luke wrote to assure his readers that Jesus came for all people, Jews and gentiles alike. Luke traces all the way back to Adam because he wanted to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the hopes of all people. Matthew traces Jesus lineage of royal succession and Luke traces Joseph's physical descent. Both lines converge at Joseph. But both emphasize that Jesus was the Son of David.
John doesn't have a real genealogy as we would think of one, but he too traces Jesus lineage. John, however, takes us straight back to God the Father. John presents Jesus as the eternal, Preexistent and now incarnate Word of God. He highlights Jesus existence throughout eternity with God. “The Word” conveys the idea of divine self-expression or speech. The Word is effective. God speaks and things happen, extraordinary things. That the Word was with God shows a personal relationship and saying the Word was God affirms that this Word, Jesus, was in essence the same God who created the universe.
With enough records, we could all trace our genealogy back to one place, Adam and Eve, the first couple. And, because God created them, we are His sons and daughters as well. Jesus is the true Son, and we are the adopted sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. So, we might be able to trace our lineage for several generations or even hundreds of years but ultimately, we are...first and foremost the sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. We are heirs of His kingdom, and He has made a place for us so that we can spend all of eternity with Him. We will receive new white garments to wear and a name that no one else but He will know.
This is who we truly are. Yes, I can say I am the son of Stanley and the grandson of Edward on my Father's side and the son, grandson and great grandson of a line of men named Fred on my mother's side. But I am really one of Jesus sons, beloved and treasured. You are beloved and treasured as one of Jesus sons or daughters as well. How blessed we are.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W