Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-37
This passage in Matthew recites Joseph's family tree, tracing his lineage all the way back to Abraham. Through this recital of family ties, Matthew proves that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, the father of all Jews, and also a legal descendant of David, which fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. By proving Jesus' lineage, Matthew was proving Jesus' authenticity as the Messiah to his readers who were predominantly Jews. For Matthew, Jesus was the Savior of the Jews. Luke, on the other hand, traces Mary's family tree all the way back to Adam. He, too, shows Jesus' lineage through Abraham and David. I've always felt that Luke's tracing of Jesus' lineage through Mary had something to do with Luke's being a medical doctor. He was a stickler for detail. As a medical doctor, he would have been fully aware of how babies are made. So his tracing of Jesus lineage through Mary would be the only natural course for Luke to take since Mary is the only human parent Jesus had. The other interesting thing about Luke's recital of Jesus' lineage is that taking it all the way back to Adam illustrates that Jesus is the Savior of all people.
One of the more interesting things about the genealogy listed in Matthew is the mention of four women - something Jews rarely did. The bloodline, according to Hebrew tradition, passed through the father. In fact, it was so important that a man's bloodline be continued unbroken that, if a man died, his brother was to marry his widow and all children conceived through this second marriage would be the children of the first husband! But in Jesus' genealogy, four women are mentioned. Even more interesting is the character of the women. Tamar, in verse 3, was an adulteress (Genesis 38:6-30 NIV). Ruth, in verse 5, was a Moabitess (Gentile), not a Jew (Book of Ruth NIV). Rahab, in verse 5, was a harlot (Joshua 2 NIV). And Bathsheba, in verse 6, was the wife of Uriah and had been wrongfully taken by David - after David got her husband out of the picture by putting him on the front lines of the war and making sure he died in battle! (2 Samuel 11-12 NIV)
Another thing about Jesus' lineage (let's use the one in Matthew for simplicity) is the kinds of people He has in His bloodline. The most glaring fact is that Jesus was not a full-blooded Jew, getting some Gentile blood from both Ruth and Rahab. The secondary fact is that there were a lot of quite imperfect people, some of which we've already mentioned. Then, of course, there were the spiritual giants, like Abraham, Isaac, Ruth and David. And there were a lot of ordinary people, like Hezron, Ram, Nahshon, and Akim (who ever heard anything about these folks?). There were a few with rather rotten reputations, like Rahab the harlot and Tamar whose story is too long to recount here (If you're curious, it's told in Genesis 38 NIV... much more interesting than any daytime Soap!). Manasseh, who was king of Judah for 55 years, was such a rotten egg he caused Judah to be exiled and to lose everything. Abijah wasn't too great either. In fact, scripture says he committed all the sins his father did and did not "do right" in the eyes of the Lord.
And then we come to Mary.... the woman God chose to be the mother of His only begotten Son. If I had been in charge of picking the Son of God, I'd have chosen a Queen, wouldn't you? He'd have been born in the greatest city, to the most important family, with all the power and riches and advantages that life could bring. But God doesn't think like you and I do. Instead, He chose Mary... a young, "middle class" woman who lived in Nazareth, one of the most disliked cities in all of Israel. And to make matters even worse, Mary was not married. According to Jewish law, if she became pregnant out of wedlock, she could be taken to the edge of town and stoned to death!
You would think, wouldn't you, that God would have set up Jesus' lineage to come through only the best of the best. After all, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He is God Incarnate. Wouldn't it seem logical that His bloodline would be the purest possible? However, has God ever operated according to human logic? Why did God use such a variety of people - and so many who were less than admirable - in His plan for the birth of His Son? Because God chooses to reveal His power through the unlikely, the illogical, the impossible. Through the weakest of people, His strength is shown. Through the most impossible of circumstances, His power is revealed.
Jesus' lineage illustrates that God can and will use anyone to accomplish His purpose, no matter how imperfect that person is. He does the same today. No matter who you are, no matter what you've done in your life, no matter how imperfect you are - God can and will use you to accomplish His great eternal purpose. Pray with an obedient heart for Him to show you how He can best use you to glorify His name.
Used with Permission