“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”
-Matthew 1:1–17 (you can read Luke’s account of Jesus’ family tree in Luke 3:23–38)
Jesus’ Family Tree
If you were God and decided to enter the world – would you want a prestigious family line who lived holy lives? A family line of people who deserved to lead to your eventual coming?
Well, besides the fact that no one would deserve to be part of Jesus’ family tree – that’s simply not how God operates.
He gives more and more and more grace.
Let’s just glance at four of the surprising people we find in Jesus’ family tree (taking just from Matthew’s account we read above):
“Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers” – Near the base of Jesus’ family tree is an interesting phrase that includes a group of brothers. Matthew does this purposefully, as we see these brothers all together for a large part of their story (and they also end up representing/creating each of the tribes of Israel).
By grouping “Judah and his brothers” togther, we’re reminded of what they all collectively did to their brother, Joseph (the one who they sold into slavery). This is Joseph, who God used to save all of Egypt and the surrounding areas – including his brothers and families!
However… It’s Josheph who was the hero… not Judah and his brothers. So Jesus desended from Judah, the eldest of the brothers, the one who should have stepped up to protect Joseph.
Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab – This is an incredible lineage (though, not one to write home about). Rahab is one of the most notable non-Hebrews to join the Hebrew people. She was a prostitute in Jerico, the city where the Children of Israel marched around for seven days and the walls came crashing down.
She found the spies who came to scope out the city and she asked for their mercy if she hid them from the city officials and became part of Israel after they destroyed.
So, a non-Hebrew prostitute… another strike against Jesus’ family tree.
Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth – Again, we see another non-Hebrew woman who comes into Jesus’ family tree. Her story is pretty incredible and actually has an entire book dedicated to it (the book of Ruth). It is a great historical story of God’s grace and redemption.
Solomon (son of David) by the wife of Uriah – The last name we’ll take note of is actually of David, himself – as Jesus is called the Son of David.
However, it’s not the way we’d expect.
David had multiple wives, but the one who continued the family tree leading to Jesus was “the wife of Uriah.” Her name was Bathsheba, though her actual name isn’t mentioned here, instead, she is listed as the “wife of Uriah” – and there’s a good reason.
Before she became David’s wife, she was Uriah’s wife. But in a sad story (that you can read in 2 Samuel 11), David begins to desire “his neighbor’s wife” while Uriah is away at war – so he has Uriah killed and takes Bathsheba to be his wife. She then gives birth to Solomon, and the family tree continues all the way to Jesus.
There’s no mistake that Matthew wrote “the wife of Uriah” rather than simply saying “Solomon by Bathsheba.” The writer wanted to make it painfully obvious that there was something going on in this section of the family tree – and there sure was.
A Broken Family Tree
Jesus’ family tree may come from David and Solomon, the two greatest kings in Israel, but we see problems scattered throughout. Beyond the notible ones we’ve looked at, there are many more people who sinned and went against God, yet still became part of Jesus’ family tree.
And yet, that’s what’s so great about it.
Jesus didn’t come from the perfectly groomed ancestry we’d expect God to prepare for Himself. In fact, Jesus was born into poverty.
What we do see in Jesus’ family tree is hope.
And the hope we find is twofold:
Hope of a new heritage
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” -1 Corinthians 15:21
The family tree we were born into is one of sin and death. Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, and we are now all slaves to sin.
Yet, through Jesus, we can be born into a new family tree, a new heritage, a new hope.
This is what Jesus refers to when he speaks to Nicodemus:
“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” -John 3:3
We have to be born into this new heritage.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” -Ephesians 2:19
Which brings us to the second part of this new hope…
Hope that God wants us part of His family
Sometimes it can feel like God can save us, but that He doesn’t really want to.
We’re reminded in Isaiah that it was God’s will to “crush him [Jesus]” so that we would find healing in his wounds.
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him…” -Isaiah 53:10
And we can’t begin to cover all the verses that remind us of God’s love being the driving force behind what Jesus did for us. (John 3:16, John 15:9-17, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:37-39, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 2:4-5, 1 John 3:1-24, 1 John 4:7-8)
And, it wasn’t just The Father Who loves us and wanted to go to these lengths to bring us into His family – Jesus did too.
We see in Hebrews 12:2 that He endured the cross by looking forward to the joy that was set before Him (His bride, the redeemed church who would accept His grace).
“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And, even more than that, He says that He specifically calls us brothers.
“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.'” -Hebrews 2:11–12
Jesus wants us part of His family.
The Father wants us part of His family.
And so Jesus first became part of ours.
He joined our fallen line of humanity,
So that He could redeem us.
And we see this so clearly in His broken family tree.
A broken family tree
That God so beautifully redeemed.
So may you remember…
- God heals broken things.
- God wants to bring you into His family.
Let’s allow Him to do both this Christmas.