If you wake up today and are doubting in any way that you are just not quite good enough then you are amongst tremendous company as you read the opening verses of Matthew’s gospel:
“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers” (Matthew 1: 1-2)
The English word ‘genealogy’ is the translation of the Greek word, ‘Genesis’. This is how Matthew starts his gospel, written perhaps at the time that Peter and Paul was still alive (approx. AD60) and maybe to the church of Antioch in Syria. Perhaps and maybe because there are many opinions.
This is the new beginning. We have had one Genesis already but this is the beginning of the incarnation of God on earth.
Matthew’s list is different to Luke’s. Matthew’s descends father to son and Luke’s is the reverse. Matthew’s line goes through Joseph and Luke’s goes through Mary. Matthew’s is shorter.
How far back can you go with your own family tree? I can only go back to grandad Joe. I think most people can only go back 3 generations. We don’t necessarily get taken up with our past. What about those in the family of faith? Who brought you to Christ? Who brought them? Who brought them? Same problem perhaps. We are more focused on the now and the future than our past. I’m not sure whether I am in some mid-life existential crisis or not but having suffered grief over recent years I keep thinking about those before me.
But maybe we will be helped by thinking on how Matthew starts his gospel.
The beginning of Christ came through the covenants of God. Jesus is the son of David, the fulfilment of the covenanted promised figure, a Messiah for the Jews, who would save them from their enemies. But Jesus is also the son of Abraham who also had a covenant that the Messiah from his line would be for all the nations of the world.
Forty times Matthew uses the word ‘father’ or ‘fathered’ leading to the crescendo of the announcement of Jesus Christ who was not ‘fathered’ by Joseph but incarnated through Mary.
But before we move into the perfect Christmas story we cannot without having a brief look at these names who were the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah.
Let us consider Abraham. But let us see the humanity, the ordinariness, not the stardom of saintliness.
Abraham who impregnated a slave-girl called Hagar who was not his wife. Abraham who lied that his wife was his sister, twice!
Isaac carried on from his father and also lied about his wife and he was a weak father to his children Jacob and Esau.
Jacob known as the deceiver, exploited his brother Esau and stole his blessing. He married 2 sisters.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob seen by generations as the patriarchs, the fathers of the faith are the beginning of Jesus, according to Matthew’s gospel. This is his good news that ordinary, sinful people are in the line of Jesus. The Messiah comes into that line of impetuous deceiving liars.
So today you think you are not as good as some. You may want to pull out of the race because you don’t feel you deserve to be running it. Well take heart because the good news of Matthew is you are not alone.