Matthew 1:1-17 (CEV)
The Ancestors of Jesus
1 Jesus Christ came from the family of King David and also from the family of Abraham. And this is a list of his ancestors. 2-6a From Abraham to King David, his ancestors were:
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and his brothers (Judah’s sons were Perez and Zerah, and their mother was Tamar), Hezron;
Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Obed (his mother was Ruth), Jesse, and King David.
6b-11 From David to the time of the exile in Babylonia, the ancestors of Jesus were:
David, Solomon (his mother had been Uriah’s wife), Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram;
Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, and Jehoiachin and his brothers.
12-16 From the exile to the birth of Jesus, his ancestors were:
Jehoiachin, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim;
Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, and Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
17 There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were also fourteen from David to the exile in Babylonia and fourteen more to the birth of the Messiah.
If you set off to read the New Testament from beginning to end (see what I did there!), this is where you would start. I remember doing this on being given a New Testament, probably when I was about eleven. I confess I was bored long before I got to verse 17. I am not a historian, and none of this meant anything to me.
In recent years we have seen increased interest from people in where they come from. Lots of people are now trying to trace their family trees, and the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are seems to have become a favourite. Whether this is because we are more displaced from our families than ever before, I don’t know. Once we lived the family history as we all lived together, now it is not so evident.
But here is God’s history, laid out before us.
Matthew clearly thinks it is important to place Jesus in the correct historical context, to place where he comes from.
In the words of Fred Pratt Green,
God in time, God in man,
This is God’s timeless plan:
Maggi points us to the differences between Luke’s and Matthew’s lists (p29). Luke’s is about context, Matthew’s is the place he starts. Luke’s a personal story, Matthew’s a salvation history.
This brings me back to one of my pet themes. Not everyone learns the same way, not everyone hears the same way, not everyone experiences the same way. Some of us need story rooted in people, some of us need history rooted in fact – but both take us to the same place. To the God who loves us and was and is working in people’s lives, through history and story – for both are the same, expressed in different ways.
We all experience God in different ways, we all come to him differently – with a different focus, story, understanding – but all to the one God. We all bring different facets – and all are valuable and meet to create a fuller picture.
God’s story, working through time, working through us.
Thank You God,
that there is not one way to experience you,
to know you,
to meet you,
but that you come to me
where I am,
in a way I can grasp.
Thank you for the ways others know you
we can bring a bigger picture of you,
for you are bigger than any of us can hold,
deeper than any one of us can know.
May we share you,
as we know,
that more may come to experience you
in a way that makes sense to them.
This year, several of us are reading Beginnings and Endings by Maggi Dawn and joining together to comment on it. Do join us at the Adventbookclub Facebook page, follow #adventbookclub on Twitter or comment below. If you are also reading and blogging on this book, let me know and I will link to your blog.