Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jesus Family Tree

                                                                                   by Dr. Woodrow Kroll

Some years ago Alex Haley  engrossed the world with his novel “Roots”, The story, which began
several generations ago in Africa, recounted the lives of Haley’s ancestors. The release of the novel, and later the TV mini series sparked renewed interest in tracing the family tree. Everyone seemed to be doing it. 
Perhaps you have done a genealogical search of your ancestry.  Or maybe you have resisted the
temptation because you were afraid of what you would learn about your ancestors. After all, we can’t choose our great-great grandparents. A friend once told me he wasn’t as embarrassed by those in his family tree as he was by those hanging from it.

All of us have a family tree and our Lord Jesus had one also. Since family trees are important to royalty,and because Jesus was born a King, the account of His birth in Matthew 1:18-25 is immediately preceded by His genealogy.

Some people say they gain little  insight by reading the genealogy passages of the Bible, but Jesus’
family tree reveals some very interesting  characters. Much like ours, His family tree contains both saints  and scoundrels. 

Saints in the Family Tree
The first ancestor in Jesus Family tree is Abraham (Matt. 1:2). Surely he is a saint for he was a man of  faith. At God’s command and without  questioning or hesitating, Abraham left home and family behind (Gen. 12:1-4). He forever became the prime example that “the just shall live by faith” (Gal. 3:11; cf. Gen. 15:6). He would become the father of a new nation, a great nation. He as just the kind of ancestor any of  us would like to list at the head of our family tree. 

Another of Jesus’ ancestors is Boaz (Matt. 1:4). Boaz was a man of honor. When widows Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem from Moab, Boaz honored his role as the near kinsman. He married Ruth (Ruth 4:9-11), and from that union the line of Christ became more  clearly defined. This marriage was in God’s plan, of course, but it took  an honorable man to fulfill God’s plan. Boaz was a saint.

The great-grandson of Boaz and   Ruth was also a saint in Jesus’ family  tree. He was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Although David was not sinless (saints never are), any of us would still be proud to claim the giant-killer as one of our ancestors. More than this, David conquered Jerusalem, the city of  God. There his throne was established forever through the Messiah,
Jesus Christ our Saviour.

One of the youngest saints in  Jesus’ family tree was Josiah (Matt. 1:10). He was a man of revival.
After ascending Judah’s throne at the tender age of eight, the young   

Josiah, within ten years, sparked a revival among God’s people that has been unparalleled in Israelite history (II Kings 11). Although he was a young star, Josiah was a bright one.

Jesus certainly has as glorious, saint-filled family tree. Perhaps your family tree also has many
outstanding ancestors. What does  that mean for you? Probably little.  Even though our Lord possessed a  star-studded family tree, that was  insufficient to keep the howling  mob from clamoring, “Crucify him, Crucify him” (Luke 23:21).

You and I may have distinguished  ancestors in our family tree, but that  is no guarantee our lives will receive either divine approval or public acceptance. Jesus had many saints in His genealogy and, while He had  divine approval, the crowd rejected  His life and ministry. Should we expect
the world to act any differently toward us?

Scoundrels in the Family Tree
In every family tree there are some scoundrels, some ancestors who do not grace the tree but  swing from it. The same is true of  our Lord.

Jacob was one of the patriarchs  (Matt. 1:2), but not a patriarch without problems. His shrewdness and  trickery were exceeded only by that of his father-in-law, Laban. Like cat and mouse they attempted to outmaneuver each other. Not only was this ancestor of our Lord a deceiver (Gen. 27:12) but he was a lair ( v. 19)  and a scoundrel as well. Yet he was big branch in Jesus’ family tree.
Thamar (Matt. 1:3) was also the ancestor of our Lord, but she chose the role of a prostitute (Gen. 38:1-30). She was quite a surprise for a family tree. Too impatient to wait for God’s timing, Thamar (Tamar) took matters into her own hands and in so doing involved her father-in-law in a heinous sin. Still, she played an important role in Jesus’ ancestry.

Rehoboam was the son of the wisest man who ever lived (Matt. 1:7), and yet no one acted more foolishly than did he. When he ascended to his grandfather’s throne, his own people begged him to lighten their tax burden in exchange for a promise of loyalty (1 Kings 12:1-4). Yet do you remember what that scoundrel did? He increased the public burden.   As a result, the kingdom was divided and was conquered again and again.

Can there be any worse scoundrel in Old Testament history than Manasseh? He “seduced them
[God’s people] to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord  destroyed before the children of
Israel” (II Kings 21: 9). Manasseh  was worse than a pagan. He built altars to Ball in the Lord’s house (vv 3,4) and sacrificed his own son in the fires of Molech (c 6). Still, this scoundrel is one of the Lord’s ancestors (Matt. 1:10).

If your family tree isn’t exactly filled with stars, if you can name more scoundrels than saints in your
ancestry, take heart. Jesus’ family tree wasn’t any better. But did that
matter? Not at all.

Even though our Lord’s family tree contained many scoundrels, that didn’t prevent His being acclaimed as Saviour and Messiah by multitudes of people (Acts 2:37-41).  Having notorious ancestors in our family tree is no guarantee that our lives will be rejected any more than having noble ancestors is a guarantee that our lives will be accepted.

Our usefulness to God is not enhanced by our ancestor’s nobility, nor is it deterred by their notoriety.   At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, not the merits of His ancestry. We honor the One whose very name means salvation (Matt. 1:21), not those who preceded Him.

Likewise, God is much more interested in our character right now than He is in the character of our ancestors.   You may choose to treasure your family tree or you may try to hide it. But regardless,
it was for you Christ was born to die, and it is for Him you were saved to serve.

Our Savior is interested in us—you and me. He is more interested in your person than He is in your ancestors.  He is more likely to examine  your fruits than  your roots. CL

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