God WITH Us

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace to you and merry Christmas! Wow… that was a long list of names. Did you stay awake?
At times I’ve been tempted to skip over these genealogy sections, but there is something rich there. This is how Matthew introduces Jesus to the readers and there is rich history. Other stories from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings look to family histories.

Sermon Text: Matthew 1:1-17

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace to you and merry Christmas!

Wow… that was a long list of names. Did you stay awake?

At times I’ve been tempted to skip over these genealogy sections, but there is something rich there.

This is how Matthew introduces Jesus to the readers and there is rich history.

Other stories from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings look to family histories.

Have you looked up your own genealogy? Do you know your ancestors and their stories? Do you know all the people who have had a part in your own history? DNA and ancestry kits were a very popular gift item again this Christmas season. People are curious about their family stories.

The family line makes a difference and that is true of Jesus as well. Jesus is descended from the family of Abraham.

“Jesus the Messiah, son of David, son of Abraham”

There is a big promise to the family of Abraham. Abraham is promised that through him all the nations of the earth will be blessed. The promise continues through 14 generations on through King David, a strong and beloved leader. Isaiah prophesies a Messiah to come from the house of David. The promise continues another 14 generations from David into the time of Babylonian exile and on from that another 14 generations to Jesus who was born to Mary, the wife of Joseph.

Finally, Jesus- Emmanuel, is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in this interesting family line. The members of Jesus’ family line are a full mix of good, bad, insider, outsider, and anything else under the sun.

Looking through those names in Jesus’ genealogy, you see folks like Manasseh who brought back the worship of other gods in his time as king. He is certainly not a hero of the faith or the family, but he’s part of the promise.

Four women are mentioned in Jesus’ family tree, (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba) which is uncommon in a male-dominated society. Their stories are quite unique. Ruth comes in as someone who was not even part of the Jewish faith and people. Yet, she is an integral part of the story. These women make way for Mary being a key figure in this miraculous story of God among us. Mary and the other women may all look like outsiders to us, but they are made key people in the continued promise of blessing. They are central to the family and story.

Even the ‘heroes’ in our story are a mixed-bag. We know the dark side of the story of David, the beloved king. He took Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, committed adultery, got her pregnant, and had Uriah sent to the frontlines of battle to be killed to cover it all up. David is a part of the promise in spite of that.

One could go on and on about the stories of these people in Jesus’ genealogy.

Every family has stories. What are the stories of your family?

You probably have family stories you tell with pride. You have ancestors you admire. You likely also have stories you’d rather not discuss and maybe ancestors you’d rather not mention. We are all sinners and our families are scarred by sin. And as much as we might have pride in some beloved relatives, we know that they too are humans who sin just like us.

This is why Jesus, Emmanuel- God with us, comes to a human family. God enters our broken family systems and each one of our stories to redeem and save us from our sins.

God is truly with us.

The God of heaven and earth humbly enters as a vulnerable child born to human parents and becomes one of us.

In the commandments, in Exodus 20, we hear of punishments passed down to the third and fourth generation of those who reject God and steadfast love shown to the thousandth generation of those who love God and keep the commandments.

We know the truth of cycles of sin and how these affect the next generation. It is easy to see the effects passed down. We know how addiction affects a family, we know the cycles of abuse, we know the continued pain and loss in neglect, we know pain in broken relationships, and we know the weight in how we model faith and life for the next generation.

I thought of this again just yesterday taking care of my boys: what my impatience was teaching them and what my compassion was teaching them.

Each thing, good and bad impacts the next generation. Sins can quickly become a curse that is multiplied in our messy families, effects passed to our children, and their children. There is no way for us to escape our sinful past and sinful nature on our own. We need change for ourselves and for our families and that change comes in Emmanuel- God with us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

This is Christ on the cross and Christ entering humbly into a sinful human family like any other.

Christ is the redemption to the thousandth generation that we hear of in the commandments. Christ’s love is complete. Christ is the only one who lived without sin. Christ has entered our human families so this blessing could be ours. We are made part of the promise.

Our broken lives are redeemed to be blessed and be a blessing because God has entered with us to be part of our family. We, in turn, have been made part of God’s family.

Christ knows the pains of sin and is the redemption of all of it.

As C.S. Lewis puts it, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”

We are God’s children and brought into the story and family of God because God has come to be with us.

The promise given to Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed is completed in Jesus.

Christ redeems everything that is broken by the power of sin: ourselves, our families, and our relationships.

Christ enters humbly in a body that could be broken and in a family that could be broken. God enters these tender and fragile things because God is with us and God keeps this promise of blessing.

Because of Jesus, Emmanuel- God with us, we are adopted as children of God and children of the promise given to Abraham.

We celebrate Christmas, rejoicing that we have a God who promises to be with us in all things. Because of God’s promise to Abraham and the fulfillment of that in Christ, we are blessed now and forever. Thanks be to God.

 

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