Day 1 of your new Bible reading. You are psyched! You are committed. You brew a cup of coffee, clean off the kitchen table, and pull out a new set of highlighters. You grab your large-margined Bible and you open up to your first reading: Matthew 1. This is it. Your moment of great revelation, and then…you are instantly deflated. Genealogy. Blah. Wait…No…You are committed to do your reading. You have new highlighters after all! Okay. Here we go. A couple verses down, and…still nothing worth highlighting. “Maybe I will just skim this,” you say to yourself, feeling a compromise is essential to keep up your determination. The sea of names continues. Sigh. “I think I got the gist, I’ll just go to the end.” Although you made it through Chapter 1, you feel a bit defeated. No highlights; no underlines. You have made a royal mess of your reading.
So what is the significance of Matthew 1 anyways? Why not just hop into the Christmas story? The answer: context. This genealogy of Jesus through his earthly father, Joseph, is to establish the pedigree pointing to Jesus as a descendant of the ruling class of Israel. God’s so purposely positioned Jesus that there should have been no doubt remaining that Jesus is the Messiah or “The Anointed One”, the one who would reestablish the throne of David. A fact made instantly clear upon the arrival of the Magi and Herod’s petitioning to and response from the scribes (Matt 2:1-6). As much as God was at work in these plans, He did so in spite of many actions taken by those who make up the family tree.
How did the ancestors of Jesus depart from the ways of God? A few quick examples. Abraham laughed at God. Jacob, and subsequently his son, Judah, both betrayed a brother. David, God’s chosen King, is mentioned alongside his mistress (later turned wife), Bathsheba, and the man he murdered, Uriah. Among the other names are hidden even more wayward actions (idolatry, stealing, lying, etc.), culminating in Jeconiah, who did evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 24:9), which leads to a curse that cuts off the line of David, seemingly forever (Jer 22:30).
If you only looked at part of their story, collectively, it would seem like a pretty hopeless lot. Thankfully, many of the these men and women wrestled with, fought for, and maintained their relationship with God. In the midst of sin, reputation, or nurture, they connected, repented, and praised God. They were a royal mess, a line of sinners seeking God and putting their hope in his promise of redemption and restoration. It is no surprise that we find many of their names in Hebrews 11, among those who are waiting to receive their promise (v. 39,40) of a hope and heritage found in Jesus Christ.
We are equally “messed-up” and have fallen short of the standards set by our King (Rom 3:23). When we struggle with sin, our history, or circumstance, it makes us feel unworthy of the faith and hope we have. Don’t give in. Remain Psyched. Wrestle. Fight. Maintain. You may be a mess, but you are a royal mess, an heir according to the promise, directly tracing your spiritual heritage (the only one that matters) to Jesus Christ.(1 Pet 2:9; Amos 9:11) Having these roots means, we receive a special connection to God through His Holy Spirit (John 14:16,17) and are covered by grace when we miss the mark (Eph 2:8,9). Today, spend some time examining the stories behind these names a bit more closely, but also look at your own faith story. Whether you relationship is God is slightly disharmonious, somewhat distant, or completely disconnected, you are not disowned; your heritage is Jesus Christ. He will restore the throne of David, and He will restore any mess appealed in His name.