The opening chapter of the New Testament introduces us to the family of the Lord. We would expect to see the famous and righteous. We look for the names that stand out among history’s best and brightest, and there are a few. We would anticipate their inclusion and the exclusion of the sketchy and shady. It doesn’t take long to discover that’s a mistake. In a handful of verses, we encounter a most unexpected family tree.
Take the case of Judah. The genealogy of our Savior traveled an embarrassing route through his biological household. The entire sordid story is told in Genesis 38. It involves a man, his son’s widow and illicit relations that resulted in the twins Perez and Zerah. We might sweep them from our personal history, but God did not. It only took three verses to get to the imperfections through which He worked to bring salvation.
Rahab was a woman with a questionable background, but her name is not far behind. She was an outsider (Canaanite!) who exemplified what genuine faith is all about (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25). Bloodlines were expected to be pure, and she brought impurity into it. It was further diluted with the addition of Ruth’s (A Gentile) child into the mix. At least, one of the heroes came from all of this. David is just a few generations away. Did we say heroes?
His contribution is hardly one of nobility. We remember his wandering eyes and lustful heart. His adultery led to unintended consequences, failed attempts to evade detection and ultimately murder. He felt the guilt and shame, and the fallout lasted beyond his years. Yet, here is another example of the unexpected. His union with Bathsheba led to another name in the list that we might have left out. The Lord did not.
We get it all in this opening chapter of the New Testament. The roots of the Savior are anything but pure and perfect on the human side. Sinners, outsiders and unknowns are included. The famous and the infamous are all part of the biological chain that led to a manger in Bethlehem. The baby who entered the creation was very human. His family was a mixture of the righteous and the downright shameful. Israelite and Gentile blood mingled. It is a snapshot of the eternal plan of God.
Jesus introduced something different through His life and death, a new humanity. An investigation of His ancestors gives us a hint that this was not your run-of-the-mill family. Or, maybe it is. His descendants are likely a mirror image of them. Just like all families. Some we want to hide. Others we showcase. The Lord’s kin folks are no different. Some spent time in bars, others behind bars and a few have passed the bar. We bring our histories to a God who forgives and adds us to His family, flaws and all.