An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham…. (Mt. 1:1f)
If Jesus had lived in the neighborhood where I grew up, my grandmother would have been worried about me playing with Him. She would have wanted me to shy away from Jesus because He came from the wrong kind of family. Whenever I would begin a new friendship she would always ask, “Jamie, who are his people?” She wanted to make sure I was hanging around with kids who came from families who followed the rules, were respectable, and who wouldn’t ruin my reputation by association.
The beginning of Matthew’s gospel records Jesus’ “family tree.” The list includes a lot of names. If we were to look up each person, we would see that Jesus came from mixed roots. Some were famous; some were nobodies. Some were righteous; some were tragically flawed. We would also find murderers, seducers, prostitutes, and adulterers.
The fact that Jesus’ family tree includes some riff-raff, even some notorious people, is good news. It’s good news because most of us come from the same. We come from folks who acted out, did terrible things, lost their way, broke their promises, lied, fell short; folks who had messy lives, broken marriages, and kids who got into trouble.
“Jamie, who are his people?” I can still hear my grandmother’s words from 50 years ago. Today’s encouragement is this: The character of the people Jesus came from is the character of the people Jesus came for. If our own roots embarrass us, or if we’re ashamed of what we have done or not done, I encourage us to get over it. Jesus didn’t come for the righteous, but the unrighteous; not for the reputable, but the disreputable; not for the pulled-together, but the pulled-apart.
I once heard someone say that Jesus “had no taste.” Jesus had no social or cultural taste for those He came for, those He hung out with, or those He called. No matter how mixed up or convoluted our own family tree, Jesus knows where we come from, Jesus shares where we come from, and Jesus will redeem our own family tree by bringing us into His.
- Does Jesus having such a complex family tree give you heartburn or comfort? Are you concerned about being connected to the riff-raff, or are you relieved?
- Do an inventory of your own family tree. Have any members been cut-off, denied, or shunned? If so, what would it take to claim everyone, embrace everyone, and welcome everyone?
- Jesus wants to include every race, every color, every nationality, every type, stripe, and sort of person in His ongoing family tree. He wants to include everyone, no matter where they are from or what they have done or not done. Do you want what He wants?