Our Family Tree

Today’s Reading: Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 1:1-4 and 3:23-38

My parents pastored on the Northwestern Illinois District of the Church of the Nazarene for 31 years. I love those moments when someone comes up and introduces themselves by adding their connection to my parents. “Your father was my Bible teacher at camp” or “Your mother was my camp counselor” or “I loved it when your parents were quizmasters at all the area quizzes” or “I was a student in several of the classes your father taught for the course of study” or “Your parents played a large role in where I am at today.” I love those moments because I am proud to be the daughter of Larry and Dora Fortado. I am grateful when people know WHO I am because they know WHOSE I am.

Two of the writers of the gospel – Matthew and Luke – saw the importance of their readers knowing where Jesus came from. Both genealogies showed that Jesus was a descendant of David, one more indicator that he truly was the Messiah. Matthew shows us the genealogy of Jesus from his paternal lineage. He starts with Abraham and lists all of the descendants until he lands at Joseph (Matthew 1:1-16)

“Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary gives birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah. All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.” – Matthew 1:16-17

I love verse 17 because I, like Matthew the tax collector, love numbers and playing with statistics. I find the pattern between generations intriguing (14+14+14), as it seems Matthew did.

Now Luke takes it from the perspective of the maternal lineage of Jesus. Mary, too, was a descendant of David and therefore a descendant of Abraham. Mary descended from David’s son Nathan while Joseph could trace his ancestors back to Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba.

Matthew traced Jesus’ family back to Abraham, showing that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Jewish people. Luke traced Jesus’ family even farther back to Adam, showing that Jesus came to be the Savior for ALL people everywhere (Luke 3:23-38). “And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Who will He save? HIS people. Who are His people? We ALL are His people because we have all descended from Adam. Salvation is for each and every one of us.

Consider your family on both sides. Take a moment to think of the influence the family on your mother’s side has had on your life. Now consider the impact of your father’s family on who you are and where you are at today.

When you look at the genealogy of Jesus, you will see a list of people who made mistakes. Almost each one has a story of how God in grace reached out to them and used them even after they had messed things up. We have spent the last four and a half months studying many of the people listed in these genealogies. You can probably look up at your family tree and see a lot of imperfections in those who have come before you. Yet the God of grace still chose them to give the world YOU!

Let us not take lightly the role God has played in our lives since before we were born. Each story that precedes us sets the backdrop for our story. God has known us, loved us and developed a plan for our lives in spite of our family tree – whether that tree is one of a strong spiritual heritage or a weak faith of our fathers. God had a purpose for the life of Jesus, His only Son – to save the world. In the same way, the genealogy of your fathers comes to you and leads to a moment in history when you carry out God’s plan for your life.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!
– Psalm 139:13-18

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Plans for your future – plans for you and for those who will follow you in your family tree. What story will be told of you? Will you submit to God’s plan – the plan for which He created you? Those coming after you are counting on you.

Lord, we thank you this morning for the heritage passed down to us from our parents and grandparents. Your workmanship in our lives is marvelous – how well we know it! We thank you for the love and investment of time into our lives that have made us who we are today. We pray that you will take our own imperfect attempts to love and allow us to positively influence the next generations. Help us to shine your light onto the path you have set before them – a path marked with hope for their future.