Jesus’ family makes me uncomfortable. In fact, I wouldn’t allow such seedy characters into my living room or sanctuary. Do you agree? Are there certain family members you’re less likely to invite to Christmas dinner or a caroling party? Jesus’ genealogy is painted with stories that leave me clearing my throat.
Our father of faith, Abraham, showcased his many doubts in the journey through infertility and to the Promised Land. I’m relieved that doubting God didn’t disinvite Abraham from the family table. Maybe your loved ones also wrestle with doubt. Remember this doubter was called a friend of God.
Things get worse after that. Judah and Tamar adorn Jesus’ family tree with sexual deceit and abandonment. Did Tamar become a single mother, whose baby daddy didn’t pay the bills?
Salmon married a prostitute, Rahab, who traded in her scarlet cord for a redeeming flag.
Ruth was a refugee, a poor beggar. She relied on Isreal’s compassionate welfare system.
Joash killed a holy priest in the temple.
David, led by lust impregnated another man’s wife and then conveniently killed him. These stories are getting a bit racy for the Bible.
One became a leper because of disobedience.
Two others fire-sacrificed their children on the altar of false gods. I can’t imagine being one of their wives.
These tragedies are in the Bible, in Jesus’ holy lineage. I would have hidden the messy parts, and presented a cleaner gospel message. But God didn’t eliminate or bypass them; God instead instead chose to be transparent with us.
Matthew 1 shows me the meaning of “Emmanuel, God with us.” God is with us when the unspeakable happens. God with us when tragedy threatens to define us. God is with us when we don’t even want to be around ourselves.
Emmanuel, God with us, is just as true in Jesus’ messy history as it is in the idyllic creche.
Tamar is no longer defined by her bad luck and pain. Her identity is in who she is to Christ. Ruth is known not by her poverty, but by the richness of her descendant-king. So many leaders did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Their stories are grievous, but the last word is one of redemption, of being a part of Jesus’ ancestry.
God is our redeemer. God takes the hidden and ugly parts of our family history, our shame and secrets and uses the scars to create a love story of redemption. Our history is a palette where the God the Grand Artist creates a healing and surprising masterpiece.
Jesus neither hid parts of his family tree nor was he defined by it. Instead, the broken characters experienced redemption through their relation to Christ.
What about us? Can our worth be related to Christ more than on past mistakes? You are whole through the eyes of Jesus and are not limited to past failures or family history. This personal understanding comes by spending time with the Lord, digging deeper into “Emmanuel, God with us.” God with us can mean taking the time for prayer, or inviting Jesus to be a part of our daily activities.
No, our history and weak moments do not define us. We are more than the scars of our past. As we get to know “God with us” we view ourselves through God’s redemptive glory. Then our secrets become a testimony of God’s grace.
Our histories become Christ’s story as Emmanuel becomes God with us.
This season my friend, I pray we find “God with us” in all our stories.