During Suburban’s 2015 Christmas Choir presentation, I challenged those listening to take a look at how Jesus responded to living in a very dark time. I suggested doing so by spending some time in the Gospels following Jesus. For 2016 I accept my own challenge and follow Jesus through a chronological look at Jesus’ life in the Gospels.
READ: Luke 1:1-4; John 1:1-18; Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-28
As I read the passages listed above I was struck by God’s provision for us in the Gospels. That which we read gives us glimpses into heaven; knowledge of God’s working behind the scenes and through the ages, and a day to day story of the life and thinking of Jesus. Luke tells us that he wrote “…so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. Luke 1:4” The Bible in general and the Gospels in specific reveal to us the heart and plans of God for man. The Old Testament points forward to the place and time of Jesus. The New Testament describes the historical life of Christ or points back to His teaching or forward to His second coming. It is all about Jesus!
The genealogies in Matthew and Luke can feel dead at first reading. Especially in our American culture, genealogy doesn’t mean what it did in Jewish culture. It can be a fun and interesting past time to ferret out our family tree and learn the stories of those who came before us, but it doesn’t often carry the promise of inheritance or the weight of kingdom purpose. For the Jews the lineage carried immense meaning. In Matthew’s genealogy we see the kingly line of David traced forward from Abraham to Joseph. There is proof here that Jesus is the promised one to come from David’s line. There is uncertainty about the genealogy in Luke. Is it through Mary’s line? Is it a ‘human’ genealogy rather than a ‘legal’ genealogy? In either case, once again this lineage points to the fact that Jesus is in the line of David. And this genealogy emphasizes Jesus as the Son of God; a son of God as we all are through Adam, but also the Son of God as shown in Luke 3:21-23.
When I read the genealogy and see the names I’m drawn to think about the individual lives and relationships represented. In some instances I know the stories. I am intrigued and blessed that Matthew includes the names of some of the women involved in the birth record. (Needless to say, many more women were involved too!) The women included have difficult pasts. Rahab was a harlot. Ruth was a Moabitess, an alien who at one time worshipped a god other than Jehovah. The ‘mother who had been Uriah’s wife’ was Bathsheba. Each of these women had lives that didn’t fit the neat picture of a devoted Jewish wife and mother, surrendered to the plans of Jehovah and quietly submitting to the perfect religiously ordered life. But God called them sometimes through awful circumstances. And as they followed Him in their God-interrupted lives, He used them for His purposes in the lineage of Christ.
And those quiet lives, the ones whose stories I don’t know, they speak to me too. I’m guessing that some of those living out a ‘normal’ life of growing and marrying and having babies had no clue there was anything special in what they were doing. Perhaps they longed to ‘find their calling’ in the Lord. Maybe they hoped to do something big for the God they followed. Or maybe they just lived out their lives loving and obeying God to the best of their understanding. But look how He worked in and through those life contributions.
I love it that John starts by giving us a glimpse at what was going on in heaven as Jesus came to live in flesh and show us the heart of God on earth. But I think I love it just a bit more that Matthew and Luke begin with people. People like us. People who lived and loved and married and had children and hoped in the God they served.
Lord, help me to live; just to live each day for You. Help me to trust Your purposes and to know that I may never see the true impact of my life until I can look at it with You, from Your perspective. May it be unto me as You say – I am Your handmaiden!