Peninsula Community Church
November 25, 2012
God’s Gift of Family – An Introduction
One of the things I have found about families is that almost every family has that one person who is different. Sometimes there is one member that is the trouble maker or they march to a different beat. For other families there are those who are the “black sheep” who put a black mark on an otherwise normal family. We all have these family members. But over the next couple of weeks we will observe that Christ also had family members that fit the above description.
Text: Matthew 1:1-6 – The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah …
My goal over the next several weeks is to focus on the five women Matthew references in his genealogy. But before do that, I would like to make some preliminary observations about the text. My desire is that through this series you we will see and recognize and bring to light the awesomeness of God’s grace and mercy.
If we do a quick read on this text we can miss much that is hidden within these words. So, today, we will mine some of the truths that exist within these words. To understand them we must dig beyond just the words that are written to understand the historical and Judaic meaning of the passage.
As we dig into the meaning of this passage, we must first recognize a specific reference that Matthew makes. First, it is important to note that including women in a Jewish genealogy was not a common practice in those days. In most of the genealogies of the day the emphasis was upon the man as evidenced in Luke’s record of the genealogy of Christ. The reason given for this most often was that the Jew was looking for Messiah to come and they knew that Messiah was to be a man. It was for this reason that the emphasis was most often on the male role. In this study it is also interesting to note who Matthew did not include. He did not include Sarah, Leah, Rachel and many others who may have presented Christ’s family in a better light.
Secondly, it is critical to note that Matthew’s gospel focused on the kingdom of God. This is important because it has been said that if you want to understand the kingdom you must read Matthew’s gospel. Matthew, in God’s wisdom, presented the kingdom of God as a future event that would be consummated in Christ’s second coming and the establishment of His kingdom for eternity. Matthew also emphasized that God’s kingdom was present now and could be experienced now by those who would follow God’s commands through obedience. This is seen in the Lord’s Prayer Christ prayed “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is also interesting to note that Matthew on a number of occasions presented an illustration of what the kingdom of God would look like when he would state “The kingdom of Heaven or of God is like….” And then he would resent a scenario.
There is a critical need for believers to realize that the kingdom of God is evident now and the full power of the kingdom is available to them. We can call on God to reveal his kingdom power into every situation that we face. When His kingdom is revealed we experience His grace and His power. Things happen when God’s Kingdom comes.
In reference to this passage, however, we have another truth that is evident. By including these women in the text Matthew is reminding us that the Kingdom of God is open to all who will come to Him. It does not matter about one’s past or what one may have done in the past. The door of the Kingdom is open to them. Secondly this is a reminder that the Kingdom is not open to just the Jew but to the Gentile as well. The Kingdom is available to the Jew and the Gentile; the slave and the free; and both man and woman.
Thirdly, in Matthew’s gospel he focuses on the women in these stories but by implication it also focuses on the families of these women and their male counterpoint. The fact is God’s family is filled with dysfunctional people who are not much different than us today. In fact, many of the stories of the Old Testament could be torn right from the pages of our newspapers, movie scripts, TV programs and the latest steamy novel. It should be an encouragement to us today that God allowed us a glimpse into His family. It should encourage us that He allows the curtain to be pulled back so we can see His family up close and personal.
That brings us to a fourth observation. The Holy Spirit is not afraid to deal with some uncomfortable issues in the Scripture. He could have chosen to ignore these stories or he could have pressed the delete button and removed these stories from the Bible. But rather, He addresses those things that relate to real life.
For educators and psychologists there is a term they use called “disequilibrium.” What they say is that we often learn more when we face things that unsettle us or that shake us out of our comfort zone. It is at this moment that we must either adjust our paradigm of understanding or we adjust our emotions to accept the issue.
It is interesting to me how the stories related to these women cause us to ask questions and deal with issues that we would not normally deal with in Scripture. Let’s briefly look at these ladies:
Tamar – Tamar’s first husband, Er died. He was taken by God because of his evil ways. Her second husband, Onan, died, as well as, a result of disobedience and the evilness of his ways. Judah, Er and Onan’s father, had promised her his third son who was too young to be married. He unfortunately did not keep his word and Tamar took things into her own hands and dressed up like a prostitute because she knew that Judah would succumb to the temptation of prostitution. He did and she trapped him by his actions. This sounds like a story from modern TV or the movies doesn’t it.
Rahab – Rahab was a prostitute. While Rahab was a prostitute God used her to guide Israel to victory. Rahab was such a critical part of the history of Israel that she is listed in the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11.
Ruth – Ruth was a foreigner who lost her husband and was left in essence without a home or a future but there was a kinsman redeemer. And she became the mother of Boaz who became the father of David.
Bathsheba – Bathsheba lost both her husband and her son because of David’s dishonesty and lies. While Bathsheba was not completely innocent she submitted to the wishes of the king which if she had disobeyed him her own life would have been at stake.
Mary – And finally, we have Mary who was different from most of these other ladies. She was an innocent young girl who should have never have been chosen. She was in essence a nobody but she was a somebody chosen by God to be the mother of His only Son.
Finally, all of these stories remind us of the grace and mercy of God. It is so awesome that these stories are a part of Christ’s family. Each of these dysfunctional families and situations are welcomed and invited to be a part of the kingdom and is a part of Christ’s heritage and family. Each of these women was a great grandmother of Christ. They were a part of His family. Each of us has similar those stories in our families. These stories remind us that the dysfunctional and broken are welcomed into the kingdom. They are invited into the family of God. That includes us. We are all invited but not all will accept the invitation.