Matthew starts his gospel account with a list of names. I don’t know about you but when I am reading it I tend to skim over it. But today as we look towards Christmas and wait on the return of Jesus, the Saviour who is reaching out to us, heaven touching earth let us take some time to pause and read slowly. Let us take time to read the names that make up the family tree of Jesus:
“This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar). Perez was the father of Hezron. Hezron was the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab. Amminadab was the father of Nahshon. Nahshon was the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah). Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam was the father of Abijah. Abijah was the father of Asa. Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram. Jehoram was the father[e] of Uzziah. Uzziah was the father of Jotham. Jotham was the father of Ahaz. Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh. Manasseh was the father of Amon. Amon was the father of Josiah. Josiah was the father of Jehoiachin[g] and his brothers (born at the time of the exile to Babylon).
After the Babylonian exile: Jehoiachin was the father of Shealtiel. Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud. Abiud was the father of Eliakim. Eliakim was the father of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok. Zadok was the father of Akim. Akim was the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar. Eleazar was the father of Matthan. Matthan was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.”
Depending on how good your Old Testament knowledge is you may have recognised one or two names there. And far from just being a list of names this family tree of Jesus has several important points for us, and is worth looking at, as all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching!
First Matthew tells us that Jesus is the Messiah. He was writing to a Jewish audience, and we have seen how they were waiting for their promised Saviour, the serpent crusher. Matthew was saying “Here He is!” He also said He was a descendant of David and Abraham. God had promised Abraham that through his ancestors there would be an everlasting nation, and David had prophesied in the psalms that he would have an heir who would be the eternal King. Matthew is showing us that through Jesus these longstanding promises from God were fulfilled.
And look at some of the names mentioned in the list. Rahab, a prostitute. David, an adulterer. Judah, who incestuously slept with daughter-in-law. Ruth, an unclean gentile non-Jewish woman. Solomon, a king with 600 wives. People who had rebelled against God. Idolaters. People who were sinful and broken. People who weren’t even part of God’s chosen people. And yet they all find themselves included in the family tree.
And that is the message of Christmas. When heaven touches earth it is inclusive. All are invited to be a part of the family tree. All who put faith in Jesus get grafted into the family tree. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”“ Romans 8:14-15.
There is room for all in the family tree of God. For the broken, for the hurting, for the sinner, for the prostitute, for the unclean, for the idolater, for the adulater, for the downcast, for the rejected. Room for you and room for me. As heaven touches earth the message rings out – you are invited to join the family. Come as you are!