Bible Reading: Matthew 1. 1 – 7, 16 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam… and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
A Thought I wonder whether you have ever watched the television programme ‘Who do you think you are?’ Celebrities go on an emotional journey to trace their family tree with the help of historians and experts, discovering surprising - and sometimes shocking – secrets, mysteries and details about where they came from and who they really are.
Over the past few months, my Mum has been slowly working her way through various family photographs which we have found during the emptying of her house and more recently the emptying of my brother’s bungalow. We have also been scouring family albums to work out if the photographs are duplicates or new ones not seen before. In the process, we unearthed two family albums handed down from my grandparents. Imagine our surprise and delight, when we discovered that one of my grandfather’s relatives – my great great great grandfather, one John Morrison Marshall, had played the violin in the orchestra to entertain Victoria and Albert at the famous Crystal Palace on the 100th anniversary of the death of composer, George Frederick Handel. We even have the honourary medal he was given at the time to prove it!
Coming up to Advent and preparing for Christmas, this got me ruminating on who we think Jesus is. Matthew begins his gospel with Jesus’ family tree to prove that Jesus is a descendant of both King David and Abraham, just as the Old Testament prophets had predicted. Do look it up in your Bible and read the whole genealogy. I have only given you a bit of it above.
This is a bit of Matthew’s Gospel we rarely read, but it’s well worth a proper look. Here too, like many a celebrity, we make some interesting and surprising discoveries. Some of Jesus’ ancestors were great heroes of faith, whilst others were very ordinary. Some had shady reputations like Tamar, a wronged daughter-in-law, Rahab, a prostitute, and King David, who deliberately stole someone else’s wife and then conspired to have the husband killed. Some people in the list ‘did evil in the sight of the Lord’ like Abijah and Manasseh. Not perhaps what we might have expected to find within Jesus’ genealogy! Matthew is making it quite clear that God’s work in history is not limited by human failings or sins. God uses all kinds of people to bring his Son into the world. In just the same way, God uses all kinds of people today to fulfil his purposes. That means God can use ordinary people like us.
You might also like to read Luke 3.23 – 37, which traces Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Adam underlining his belief in Jesus as the Saviour of the whole world.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus as one of us,
God made flesh, dwelling among us.
Open our minds and hearts
to learn more of this mystery
so that we might know Jesus better.
Within the Orthodox Church, we can find icons of the Jesse tree, charting Jesus’ ancestry in a pictorial way. See below a traditional example.