How much do you know about your family tree? Have you invested in the websites that offer you all kinds of information about your identity and ethnicity? In our American culture this kind of information can be interesting, sometimes helpful, and certainly informative, but very little of your future depends on who your great-grandfather or other relatives were, where they lived, or what kind of people they might have been. Throughout history, however, the genealogy of a person has been extremely important. In countries where there is a monarchy, the lineage of a person is crucial to his or her title and position. In other countries, your bloodline can determine your status, your occupation, your ability to buy or sell property, and in some places even your educational and economic opportunities.
When Matthew started writing his biography of Jesus, he knew that His Jewish audience needed to have real evidence that Jesus was not only a descendent of Abraham but that he could be clearly identified as coming from King David’s lineage. Perhaps that is why he gave to his readers an interesting list of the people in Jesus’ family tree before he told them some of stories from the beginning weeks of His life and ministry. While you probably recognize several of the names in this list, there are many others that are not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. One especially poignant part of the list in the inclusion of four women – three were Gentiles and two of whom had very questionable backgrounds. Do you suppose that it was a deliberate decision on Matthew’s part to make it very clear that Jesus’ lineage was not one of exclusion or that the redemption that He came to bring would be extended to all people? As Matthew continued to write, he chose events that would make it clear that Jesus was certainly their long-awaited Messiah and King.
From this side of the cross and the resurrection, we are not looking as much for the evidence to prove the human lineage of Jesus, but in other ways our need is still very much the same, isn’t it? Who do you believe that Jesus really is and how seriously do take the words that He spoke?