I have on occasion in sermons and writings talked about my somewhat convoluted family background. Born to a single mother, I was adopted by her parents; and so that half of my family tree is known to me rather fully. But my father’s side was always a mystery. I only knew a handful of scant facts. I talked with him once on the phone when I was age 22, seeking to get together, but he politely blew me off and died a couple years later.
In an effort to understand a little bit more about where I came from, about five years ago I began a search of information on both sides. My mother’s side was easy enough, as I can trace that family lineage back to Switzerland with a rather certain connection to one of the leading figures of the Reformation.
My father’s family has been more difficult. Even with the incredible research capabilities that are available in this electronic age, I cannot get beyond a great grandfather born in 1855. So this genealogy today for Jesus that has 42 generations in it is something that I find especially amazing.
Why are people like me so interested in such things? I suppose it is the way it can give you a sense of who you are and where you came from.
But you might not like what you find out. I like it that my ancestor on one side was a compatriot of Luther and Zwingli in the Reformation. However, it was not so great to find out that my great grandfather on the other side spent time in federal prison for theft while working for the postal system. The PBS series called Finding Your Roots uncovered that Ben Affleck had slave-owning ancestors. He asked to have this overlooked in the airing of the program, which it was. But WikiLeaks is everywhere and revealed the whole thing, leading to embarrassment on both sides.
The question from this might be to ask how significantly one’s ancestry reflects upon an individual. Is it fair to have a negative view of someone simply because of their genetic past? That could make for an interesting argument.
But let me speak to it theologically. We are all genetically related to Adam, and that is a problem for us. The curse of sin has come down to us. And ladies, here is one you lay on your husbands and fathers of your children – the kids got the sin nature from him, not you. And this is at the heart of the issue of the importance of the virgin birth of Christ.
But there is a way that family history plays well for us. As we have by faith trusted in Christ, we are adopted into his family. Yes, that’s a good thing! Legally we are the children of God with rights as heavenly heirs. So, I can say personally that adoption has worked out well for me on two occasions!
This Matthew genealogy is one that demonstrates for the reader the legitimate right that Jesus had to be king in Israel. That is the theme of Matthew’s gospel – the angle from which he writes to a Jewish audience in particular. So it traces from Abraham, through Judah and David, to Joseph who – read it carefully – is said to be the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Matthew 1:1 – This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, 7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.