Summary: This message looks at the genealogy of Christ as given by Matthew, why it was given and what we can learn from it
Shaking the Family Tree
We made the pilgrimage this summer. Not to Mecca or Jerusalem but to Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy, our ancestral home, so to speak. There have been Guptills and Greenes, Bancrofts and Cheneys, Wilsons and Bradburys on Grand Manan ever since the island was settled by white folk and if you believe the stories, the Guptill side goes back before the white folks got there. Angela is the genealogist in our immediate family. She is intrigued by who married who, where they came from and who their kids were. She really is passionate about it; we’ve spent vacations in grave yards. Real grave yards. And as a personal aside they don’t make grave yards the way they used to, these sanitized lawns with the granite stones placed flat so they can mow over them may be yards with graves but they aren’t grave yards, but yet again I digress. No seriously here are some of our vacation pictures.
Our family history and background is important to Angela, I find it interesting and every once in awhile I like to shake the family tree to see what nuts fall out, for instance three summers ago I discovered that I was a sixth cousin to . . .me. Yep I’m my own sixth cousin, don’t often find that on the main land. This summer Angela was in the archives and was tracing my Mom’s side back and in the side notes next to my great grandfather Theophilus’s name was a note that said “Theophilus’s great, great uncle was Abraham Lincoln” That was kind of cool, which if it is true would make Abraham Lincoln my great, great, great, great, great Uncle. And someone out there is thinking “No Denn that would make Abraham Lincoln your “Great, great Uncle twice removed on your mother’s side.” Sure.
And when we make the trip to Grand Manan and meet people the question they inevitably ask is “Who were your parents?” and when we tell them they go “ahhh” and that usually establishes our bona fides as Islanders. During our most recent trip we went whale watching and after the trip the owner of the vessel said “You weren’t nearly as much trouble as I thought you might be.” Strange comment, so I asked “What do you mean?” To which he replied, “I mean, knowing who your father and uncle are.”
But as important as family background might be to Angela or to you, that’s nothing compared to how important it was to the Jews two thousand years ago.
1) The Why of the Genealogy
The book of Matthew begins in a way that might seem strange to most of us today but was a natural way to introduce someone 2000 years ago in Israel. It was very important because the Jewish nation was founded on the promises given to Abraham concerning becoming a great nation and often in the scriptures the people of Israel are referred to as “The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For those of you who weren’t here yesterday for Walk through the Old Testament Isaac was Abraham’s son and Jacob was his Grand-son. And so we have promises in the Old Testament like Deuteronomy 34:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’
And it was important to the Jews that those who would teach them were really Jews. Back in the Old Testament in the book of Ezra, the people of Israel had returned home after they had been taken into captivity and the Prophet Ezra was working at re-establishing worship in Jerusalem and part of that process was finding out who the priests were and weren’t. Some people presented their names and this is what is written, Ezra 2:62 They searched for their names in the genealogical records, but they were not found, so they were disqualified from serving as priests.
Good thing I’m not trying to find work as a preacher in that culture because I am a mutt. I have Irish, Welch, Estonian, British, Asian and first nation blood flowing through my veins.
And when it is recorded in Ezra that they searched the genealogical records those were the same genealogical records that the genealogy of Jesus was taken from. And in all the criticisms that came Jesus’ way never once was his pedigree questioned.
The book was written by Matthew who was one of Christ’s 12 Apostles. You may recall that Matthew was a tax collector and Jesus literally called him from the booth where he was collecting taxes, as tax collectors were wont to do. Immediately Matthew had a party and invited all of his grotty friends over to meet Jesus. Now there is an interesting concept.