Summary: There are skeletons in every closet: embarrassing family members with a checkered past who have missed the mark in God’s eyes. But while some may have fallen short of God’s will for their lives, no one is beyond redemption. And the Bible reminds us that n
A Scandalous Love Affair: With Broken People
The Rockefeller family is considered to be one of the most philanthropic families in the world, helping humanity globally in issues like economics, religion, education and environmental affairs. Yet the Rockefeller family tree is filled with many skeletons. William Avery Rockefeller, "Big Bill," was a con man, womanizer and a thief of a traveling salesman. He advertised himself as a “Celebrated Cancer Specialist" and hawked "herbal remedies" and other bottled medicine charging $25 a bottle, a sum the equivalent to two month's wages. He often posed as “deaf and dumb" as he scammed others. He fled from a number of indictments for horse stealing, eventually living under an assumed name. He married Eliza Davison in 1837, and shortly thereafter brought Nancy Brown home, as a "housekeeper" who became an alternate lover and who also bore his children.
As the saying goes, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. His son, John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) was proclaimed to be the "most ruthless American" selling bootleg liquor to Federal troops at a high profit, which gained him the initial capital to embark into oil. In 1870 he and others incorporated their petroleum holdings into the Standard Oil Company (Ohio) and then either bought out his competitors or drove them out of business. By 1881, he had a near monopoly of the petroleum industry in the United States. By 1897, he had turned his interests toward philanthropy, funding the Baptist Church, the YMCA, and founding and endowing the University of Chicago with more than $80 million. He endowed major philanthropic institutions, and finally established the Rockefeller Foundation (1913), to promote public health and to further the medical, natural, and social sciences.
Maybe there are skeletons in your closet, too: embarrassing family members with a checkered past who have missed the mark in God’s eyes. The story of the Rockefellers remind us that everyone has skeletons in their closets. But while some may have fallen short of God’s will for their lives, no one is beyond redemption. And the Bible reminds us that no one is beyond being used for God’s purposes. God chooses to love us and be in relationship to us despite our sins. This is really the great scandal of God, that he would dare tie himself to a broken and sin-filled people. It is nothing short of “A Scandalous Love Affair” because a holy and perfect God has bound himself to a willful and sinful people.
There was another family tree in the Bible. It is the bloodline of Jesus Christ who was born into a specific family in a specific time, in a specific place involving real and sometimes sinful people. Matthew’s genealogy tells us three things. First, Jesus was human. Jesus was flesh and blood and born into a family like you and me. Second, Jesus was the promised Messiah. The Messiah had to be born in the right family, the tribe of Judah, from which all of the kings of Israel came and this is the tribe of Jesus. Jesus’ genealogy not only shows that but establishes Jesus’ legal claim to the throne of David. Jesus is the Son of David and that means He is the fulfillment of God’s prophesy to David. He is the seed of David that God would raise up and establish His Kingdom. Finally, it shows Jesus is the Savior of the whole world, not just the Jews. There are Jews and Gentiles in Jesus’ genealogy, meaning that he not only came from both but he also came to save both Jews and Gentiles.
In Jesus’ genealogy are many names that you may be familiar with from the Old Testament. But the genealogy of Jesus is anything but to be proud of. It contains some righteous people, but it also contains many sinners and broken people. Yes, Jesus has skeletons in his closet too. Abraham was a liar having passed his wife off as his sister to save his own life. Like his father, Isaac also deceived King Abimilech about the identity of his wife. Jacob was a cheat and a swindler. Judah slept with his daughter-in-law Tamar, who disguised herself as a prostitute to get pregnant. So their son Perez was illegitimate—born out of immorality. Boaz was very honorable but he married a Moabite woman which the Law forbid him to do. David was a man after God’s own heart, but he was a murderer and committed adultery with Bathsheba. Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho. Ruth was a Moabite and a Gentile.
So what do we learn from the genealogy of Jesus? Third, despite our sin, God still uses us in his plan of salvation. Despite all sinful and broken people in Jesus family, he still was able to use them to bring about a holy and pure and sinless Savior into the world. That is the message of God’s Word…that we have a loving father in Heaven who worked for thousands of years to redeem man, because they were lost in their sin. And yet he uses those same people as part of his plan of salvation. We’re not his backup plan, we are his plan and his chosen instruments for salvation. Perhaps you today have sin that has filled your life. The message that Jesus brings is “follow me”. Jesus loves you and died for you and wants to claim your life for him. There is no one too wicked or too evil for the grace of God or to join in the work of God.