Sometimes the Bible is hard to read—I don’t mean difficult, I mean boring.
Some sections are just not as exciting as others.
To be honest, some passages used to make me groan every time I came to them. Logically, I knew God included those sections for a reason, but I was hard-pressed to figure out their significance. So, when I came to them, I automatically reached for the coffee. You know what I mean?
What are those passages for you?
For me, it was genealogies.
Not too long ago, I would skip all the ‘begats.’ I honestly didn’t care who was the father of who. I wanted to scream, “Why does this matter?!?”
These sections were dull. Boring. Tedious to read. I had no idea who most of these guys were, and I couldn’t even dream of pronouncing their names. Still, I kept tripping over genealogies like my sons’ shoes in the entry.
I wanted action. Excitement. Adventure. Larger-than-life stories. Miracles. Scandal. I wanted to be wowed and amazed. I wanted something I could learn. I wanted something that applied to me or that I could apply. And genealogies just didn’t fit the bill.
I was wrong.
(I seem to say that a lot. But it’s true.)
I was wrong.
Biblical genealogies have so much to teach us!
In Jewish tradition, genealogies were vastly important. They not only proved your lineage—which tribe you belonged to, but they verified you were Jewish—one of God’s chosen people. And in Jesus’ case, Matthew presented the record of His ancestors for two reasons
- To verify that Jesus was indeed Jewish—a direct descendant of Abraham
- To verify He was of royal blood—a direct descendant of David
This was important because it was the first step in proving that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. His lineage fulfilled Old Testament (OT) prophesies and set the stage for the remainder of the Messianic Prophecies to be fulfilled.
That right there is exciting in itself!
Isn’t it curious that after Luke, we don’t see any more genealogies in Scripture? And the genealogies we find in the OT all point to the birth of our Savior?!
Those realizations are what made me look at Biblical genealogies differently. What made me care about who was the father of who. What made me grasp why they matter.
The more I read my Bible; the more I get to know the people listed in these genealogies. As their stories unfolded, I began to understand how they were all connected. These men and women went from faceless names on the page to real flesh and blood people. Names that were once impossible to pronounce have become dear to me. I have developed a kinship with ancient people because of the Scriptures, and their stories have helped shape mine.
But there’s more.
When I look at Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew, I feel a profound sense of relief and encouragement. That might seem odd, but it’s true. Take a look with me; I’m sure you’ll see why.
We start off with a man who believed the Lord. And the Lord counted his faith to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:1-8). Yet, Abraham still wrestled with bouts of doubt and unbelief. He tried to force God’s blessing into his timing because he got impatient. He grew weary of trusting and waiting. Can you relate? Oh, I sure can!
We move on to fathers who played favorites—grieving those around them. In Christ’s line, we also have manipulators, liars, and deceivers. We have men of great faith who passionately love God and everything about Him. And we have idolators who blatantly rejected God and saturated themselves with their heinous sins. We have kings and paupers. We have the wisest man (aside from Jesus) who walked on this planet, and many who seemed to have checked their ability to reason at the gate. We have adulterers and murderers. We have men of character and integrity, and others with no integrity at all. There are men of valor as well as scoundrels and unknowns.
And we have women.
At this time and in this culture women weren’t included in genealogies. But God changed that when He included these five women in His Son’s family tree. And I am so glad He did.
However, when we look closely at four of these five women, we can’t help but wonder how they made the cut.
- Three of the four women were Gentiles; they “tainted” the “purity” of the Jewish line
- One was a shrewd manipulator (vs. 3),
- One was a whore/prostitute (vs. 5a),
- One was an idolatress (vs. 5b).
- The fourth woman, the Jew, was an adulterous (vs. 6).
The fifth woman in this genealogy was the mother of Jesus (vs. 16).
However, all of these women have one thing in common: Each woman surrendered to God at a critical time in her life. And because she chose to believe God, God not only used her mightily in her time but has continued to use her through the centuries. These women’s stories of surrender, redemption, forgiveness, and profound faith are still influencing, blessing, and encouraging men and women all over the world today. What a legacy!
Do you see it? Do you understand why Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew gives me such a profound sense of relief and encouragement?
I have three reasons.
1. Families are messy, but your heritage doesn’t determine your future.
There are all kinds of men and women in Jesus’s line. His lineage is messy, tainted, and far from perfect—just like mine. As I learned about the men and women who make up Jesus’s family tree, I realized:
- All families are messy
- They all have their good, bad, and ugly
- They all have those who ardently love and follow Jesus and those who stubbornly reject Him
- They all have beautiful stories and horrible tragedies
- They all have strong bonds of love and respect mixed in with estrangement, broken relationships, unforgiveness, rivalries, and pain
- They all have godly people who served and loved others well as well as scoundrels, drunks, whores, addicts, adulterers, etc.
- No matter what legacy is behind you, you must choose what your legacy is going to be:
- What you believe
- What you teach your children
- Which family traditions, habits, and behaviors you carry forward and which you eliminate
- You have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to change the trajectory of your family’s heritage
- No matter how messed up your family is,
- Your lineage doesn’t determine who we are because in Christ we are all made new.
- Your lineage doesn’t dictate your future because we’re grafted into His family.
- Each person in every family tree needs Jesus.
- Everyone is sinful and broken
- Everyone needs God’s grace, forgiveness, and mercy
- All must choose for himself/herself
- To surrender to God
- To accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior
- To follow Jesus
Through Christ, we have the power the to change the trajectory of our family heritage! Destructive behaviors can stop with us. Damaging patterns can end at our doorstep. And new habits can begin.
Don’t believe me? Jesus’ half-brother, James, thought He was a lunatic! But after the resurrection, he believed his dear Brother was the Son of God, followed Him, and wrote one of the most profound books of the New Testament—James.
2. Forgiveness, Redemption, and Healing
No matter how badly we mess up, when we repent and turn back to God, He forgives us. Even when our deliberate, arrogant, willful, and prideful sin lands us in exile—He heals us, restore us, and releases us from captivity. (vs. 11-12)
So no matter what your challenge is, your addiction, loss, sin, or pain—Jesus is there beckoning, calling, inviting. He is longing to redeem you and heal you.
If you haven’t yet, read my latest series, “But I Don’t Feel Forgiven…” for a more in-depth look into this subject.
3. Jesus’ Lineage Includes Women and Gentiles
When God included women in the family tree of His Beloved Son, He restored our value.
We were created in His image to be equivalent to but different from men. To complement his abilities and strengths with our own. To be his partner, his companion. To stand by his side. We were meant to support and encourage each other as equals. United as one, not to be under his thumb. (I know most cultures have not caught up with Him yet, and this is not meant to stir up a debate.)
In the ancient world, women were not valued or revered. Families may have kept one daughter, but if others were born, they were immediately discarded on the refuse heap outside the city walls to die of exposure. Women were commodities, bartering tools to increase a father’s wealth. They were married to the highest bidder or given as wives to unite families, communities, and kingdoms. Women had no legal rights, were not able to inherit property, and were at the mercy of the men around them. They were considered to be religiously inferior and unable to reason. Their identity was defined by the men in their life and by how many sons they produced.
Then Jesus came and planted seeds of change that are still growing, developing, and producing fruit. See, Jesus continued the work of His Father. He showed nothing but love, respect, tenderness, and compassion to women. He treated women with dignity and honor. He validated their opinions and never discredited their intelligence. He reminded them they too were cherished Children of the King, valuable, and important. Jesus taught women right alongside men. He educated them. Encouraged them to think, to use their ability to reason. To listen and understand. And He commissioned them to share the Good News of the Gospel. Jesus turned the social norms on their head! LET THE LORD BE PRAISED!
These women included in Jesus’ genealogy also alluded to the beautiful truth—Salvation through Jesus Christ is available to ALL peoples, tribes, and nations. First for the Jew then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16). We ALL have the right to be called Children of God if we follow Jesus.
There is no way I could state it better than Paul. According to him, Jesus was the great equalizer. He put everyone on equal footing:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29, NIV, emphasis mine)
GLORY TO GOD!
Beloved, I’ve learned not to ignore the “boring” passages. But instead, to look a little deeper into them. To see them as part of the BIG PICTURE! Suddenly, they aren’t so boring anymore. They’re exciting, refreshing, and life-changing!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13, NIV)