O Come, Let Us Adore Him – Advent Day 9 – The Messiah’s Lineage
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. (Luke 2:4-5, ESV)
For many of us, one of the first things we think about during the holidays is family. And it’s not just our immediate family but our extended family—the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins we don’t see very often, maybe just once a year. If we’re honest, we can all come up with at least a couple of relatives (either living or gone) that we think are a little bit out there. The thought of seeing them makes our anxiety flare up. What are they going to say this time? What are they going to do this year? What disastrous choices did they make throughout the year? We might think seeing them once a year is enough! Regardless, though, they are our family. We might not agree about everything—politics, sports, religion, etc.—and we might remember times we argued with them, times they wronged us, and mistakes they made (and they might have the same gripes with us). But when it all comes down to it, family is family. If nothing else, Christmas should remind us that no family is perfect.
Matthew 1 and Luke 3 contain genealogies listing the families from which Jesus descended. Matthew takes us from Abraham to Jesus, and Luke takes us from Jesus all the way back to Adam. These lists are of the earthly family of Jesus Christ. There are names which immediately bring respect and awe (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Josiah). These men were generally righteous and are the type of men we would expect in His family. But even within them, nobody is perfect. Although faithful in so many ways, Abraham failed in his faith on a few recorded occasions. Isaac fell into the sin of favoritism among his sons. Jacob deceived his father. David failed in horrific fashion with Bathsheba. Josiah went off the reservation against his enemies and it cost him his life. See? Nobody’s perfect. But when it comes to these lists of names, it even goes beyond that.
In the genealogy of Jesus Christ there are many names that might surprise us. Remember, this is the lineage of the Messiah, the Son of God, God manifest in the flesh! So what is Solomon doing in there? He’s listed because he was the son of David through which the line of Christ would go. I mean, come on, his mother was Bathsheba! The spectacular error of David is brought to the forefront, and Matthew even says Solomon was born to “the wife of Uriah” (1:6). And is Tamar really listed too? The woman who tricked her father-in-law, Judah, in order to have a son with him? Not to mention Judah himself—this is the son of Jacob who’s chosen instead of, I don’t know, Joseph? But wow, there they are. And surely Rahab isn’t in there, is she? Rahab, the known prostitute? The Lord chose her too? What about pretty much one of the worst kings ever, Manasseh? He burned his son as a sacrifice to an idol, and if you read 2 Kings 21, you get the sense he was probably in the top most evil kings in the history of Israel. His son Ammon wasn’t much better. But they are both there. These are the men and women associated with the family heritage of Jesus. Maybe your family isn’t looking so bad now!
Luke gives us the key, though, in chapter 2. The men and women in Christ’s lineage are listed to prove the prophecy was fulfilled—Jesus was of the line of David. This was a promise the Lord made to David: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13). This promise was fulfilled with the coming of Jesus, and Luke points out that Mary was even told that “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (1:33).
The lineage is just that—the lineage. It’s filled with imperfect men and women because we are all imperfect sinners. But at the end of the line was the perfect Messiah, the long-awaited, long-promised Son of God who would turn darkness into light, despair into hope, and sorrow into joy. As you meet with your family this year, remember that they aren’t perfect (and neither am I). Instead of yammering on about everything that can possibly divide us, maybe I should think more about living a positive example of the One at the end of the line.