ADVERTISING
 
Thursday, August 22   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Peter Mead
 

Is the genealogy really such a let down?

The fulfillment of God’s great sin-conquering, life-giving, problem-solving, Satan-defeating, promise plan was Mary’s son, baby Jesus.

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTHOR Peter Mead 13 DECEMBER 2017 15:25 h GMT+1
Photo: Mike Arney (Unsplash, CC)

To the first-time reader, the Old Testament can feel like a confusing collection of laws and awkward stories. Before too long it becomes an amazing epic retelling of God’s preparation for the arrival of his Son into our world. If you have eyes to see, then the Old Testament becomes a treasure trove of God’s presence and God’s promise. It is certainly not about heroes of the faith, for God’s people were consistently faithless, and yet God’s faithfulness outshines their wretchedness. Where God had every right to declare his promises null and void, instead he kept adding to the promise and moving toward the arrival of the Messiah.



Then there is a blank page. This is it. This is the moment in a Bible read through that should make your heart leap. So, you arrive in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 1. Here it is! This is the good news! And then you find . . . a genealogy. Disappointing to say the least. Surely God could have launched the New Testament with something more exciting than a list of old names?



Actually, the genealogy at the start of the New Testament is a reason to celebrate. More than that, it gives us reason to press on in our ministry. Here are three reasons to be thankful for the genealogy that launches our New Testaments:



 



1. The good news that we proclaim is not a fairy tale, it is rooted in history.  



The arrival of God the Son into our world is not announced with a “Once upon a time,” introduction as we would expect of a fantasy tale. It is announced with a “This is the genealogy of…” that we would expect of a historical figure. This is so important. In the midst of our preaching and pastoral care of souls we can forget how alien the good news of Jesus actually sounds to people. It can sound like a fairy tale that we think might offer hope in the “real world.” But let us never forget that the Gospel is not a fairy tale, it is rooted in actual events.



The Gospel is not a mythical tale that we speak into the real world to give people a purer perspective by which to live, or a touching tale that sets an example for us to follow in our infinitely more complex experience. The Gospel is not a suggestion for how we should live. It is an announcement of what God has done.



Real historical figures had real flesh and blood children who gave birth to actual children, and so on. This genealogy offers forty-two touchdown points in history as preparation to the touchdown point that transforms history. If Jesus was merely a myth, or only an example, or somehow just a fairy tale to inspire us, then all this would be so unnecessary. If Jesus were a fairy tale, then he need be no more than a heavenly interruption in our normal world. Instead, he really entered right into our normal world.



It is important to note that Matthew’s genealogy is carefully crafted. He is deliberately selecting generations in order to build a shaped list, rather than an exhaustive one. He is also tracing a line that diverges from the line that Luke includes in his Gospel. It is not a contradiction, after all, your genealogy could also take any number of lines down through the centuries.



Read through the genealogy and ponder your ministry. They faced struggles and uncertainty, yet they were part of God’s great story in ways most could hardly imagine. We too don’t see the end of our story, but we know we are part of his story. Thank God that the Gospel is rooted not in myth, but in history. He came into our world and now we can live and serve him in that same history. Real people, living real lives, facing real struggles, and always part of his story!



 



2. The good news that we proclaim is not shaped by our culture’s needs, it is shaped by God’s promise plan.



If we were to try and write the story of a God-sized fix to our hellish plight, we would probably make it a story of an other-worldly super-hero coming to our aid. We wouldn’t have that hero becoming one of us, and a lowly one of us at that. We would surely not trace a line down through two millennia of dysfunctional families, men who gave their wives away, men who stole other men’s wives, women of ill-repute, and disobedient nationals humiliated by deportation.



And yet there is a shape to this genealogy. It is a deliberate shape that Matthew introduces in verse 1 and underlines with summary sums in verse 17. This is the Abraham to David to Exile to Jesus genealogy. What is significant about Abraham, David and the Exile? Surely it is not the giving wife away (twice), stealing a wife and having her husband killed, and the humiliation by deportation… surely these are not the high points of the story? Actually, no, but as we will see in the next point, this background certainly adds a unique colour to it all.



What is significant about this shaping of the genealogy is that these are three points in history where God leaned forward and added detail to his great promise plan. God had promised to rescue humanity from sin back in Genesis 3:15. That promise was developed when God promised to make Abram’s name great and to bless all the families of the earth through his seed. Tick, tock, the clock was counting down.



King David was blown away by further development on that promise, that his throne would endure forever and his greater son would ascend to it in the future. Tick, tock, the clock continued to count down.



The prophets spoke in the context of national failure, in the context of Israel’s flaws being fully revealed by the Old Covenant that the day was coming when God would establish a New Covenant that would change everything. Tick, tock, the clock was counting down and this genealogy shows us where it ends.



Jesus.



The fulfillment of God’s great sin-conquering, life-giving, problem-solving, Satan-defeating, promise plan was Mary’s son, baby Jesus.



What an encouragement this is to us as we continue to minister two thousand years later. It is easy to see the mess of humanity. And it is easy to miss that God has a greater plan being worked out in his own timing.  We can trust him, we must trust him.  We have no other hope besides him.



 



3. The good news that we proclaim is not coloured by human success, it is coloured by God’s grace for sinners.



We could put on rose-tinted spectacles and see the good in this list. After all, Abraham was eventually a man of faith. David was a man after God’s own heart. Jacob was at least productive when it came to building a nation, and Boaz was an all-around good egg. There are others we could name in the list, people of noble character, including Ruth, not to forget Joseph and Mary, of course. Definitely some good people, or in many cases, some good moments.



Nevertheless, the more you study the list, the more you see the sin. This is not a list of Israel’s finest and greatest. This is a list of ordinary people who stumbled and messed up and blew it and sinned. This is not a bland list of empty suits – positions celebrated without recognition that it was real humanity in those roles. This is not a list brightened by human success, but rather a list coloured in by God’s grace to fallen people.



Did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob deserve to receive God’s good promise? Obviously not, if you read through Genesis. Did David deserve to have his throne established over the whole world forever? Definitely not, if his story is heard in full. Did Israel deserve the New Covenant?  Not in a million years.



God’s grace transforms human mess.



And perhaps the greatest colour in the genealogy? Surely it is the colour added by the unusual inclusions … Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah. Four women. Probably four foreign women. Most importantly, four women with significant question marks over their moral purity. Tamar dressed up as a shrine prostitute to trick her father-in-law into giving her a son. Rahab’s name always comes with the title of her profession. Ruth was a wonderful women, but she did get a man drunk and slip under the covers at midnight.  And Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, was involved in the greatest scandal ever seen in Israel’s royal court. They weren’t all bad, in fact, all of them were women of faith.  But they all had that question mark hanging over them.



And that is the colour that sets up the final woman in the list – Mary. A woman of faith. And yet a woman with her moral purity questioned by all.  She was pregnant before her wedding.  It was a scandal, even in a sin-stained place like Nazareth. But this was not more of the same human mess.  This was God’s answer to the human mess.



The genealogy might first appear dull, then at a closer look it seems to contain some great names, but if you keep looking you see the mess of those lives, and if God opens our eyes to see, we start to see the glorious grace of God shining through it all.



That is where this post ends, but it is where hope begins. When God gives us eyes to see the beauty of his glorious grace shining in the mess of humanity. The genealogy prepares us for the coming of Jesus, the Christ. Maybe this genealogy prepares us to press on in our messy ministries too – knowing that God’s great promise plan and glorious grace has already entered our world and brought the hope we all so desperately need.



 



A couple of years ago I wrote Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation – I hope you can get hold of a copy and enjoy a light biblical read on this critical subject of God’s Son becoming one of us so that we could be one with Him!  It is not just a subject to study at Christmas.  The incarnation is in the very DNA of the Christian faith.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Is the genealogy really such a let down?
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process

The Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance offers a Christian perspective on the crisis: “We can’t reduce people to just a number that needs to be controlled”.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference

Evangelical leaders from across Europe meet in Wisla (Poland) to network for mission in a range of fields. The vision is to renew the biblical church and evangelise Europe.

 
‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’ ‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’

Photos of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance’s annual gathering “Idea 2019”, in Murcia. Politicians and church leaders discussed about the role of minorities in society.

 
VIDEO Video
 
How has Christianity influenced the modern world? How has Christianity influenced the modern world?

Paul Copan, Chair of Philosophy and Ethics of Palm Beach Atlantic University, explains how many key features of Western civilization, are the legacy of the biblical faith being lived out by believers in society.

 
Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one' Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one'

Christians from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and North America, from different ethnic backgronds, came together to pray for unity as the body of Christ.

 
How have global missions changed over the last century? How have global missions changed over the last century?

The centre of gravity of Christianity has shifted from Europe to Africa, says Nana Yaw Offei Awuku, Director of the Lausanne Younger Leaders Generation initiative.

 
Christian organisations call to pray for new British Prime Minister Christian organisations call to pray for new British Prime Minister

Representatives of the National Day of Prayer, the Evangelical Alliance and CARE express the need for churches to pray for the new leadership of a country divided by Brexit and other issues.

 
GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration” GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration”

850 from 108 countries met for the Global Workplace Forum, June 25-29. The gathering was organised by the Lausanne Movement. “Every workplace is a place of ministry”.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.