You may have seen advertisements for ancestry.com and, like me, subscribed to the site to research your family heritage. During the course of my research, I combed through library books, searched courthouse records, examined census records and even trespassed to find family gravesites in abandoned, overgrown cemeteries. (My Dad and I even had a property owner turn his dogs loose on us!)
The study of one’s genealogy is both rewarding and eye-opening. Occasionally an old black-and-white photo, yellowed and cracked with age, reveals our physical likenesses to a century-old photo of an ancestor. Many of us bear an uncanny resemblance to long-forgotten members of our family tree.
In addition to inspiring revelations, a study of lineage may shed light on a few skeletons hanging in our family closet. Patterns of fame or infamy often emerge from our past and, because we all bear the accursed nature of sin, we find the consequences of sin can haunt a family for generations. God warned in the midst of the Ten Commandments, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Deuteronomy 5:9).
The lineage of Jesus Christ recorded in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke is essential if He is the rightful heir to the throne of David and the fulfillment of the covenant promises God made to Abraham. Chapter 1 of Matthew is a record of 42 generations from Abraham through David to Joseph, “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, Who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16). While Matthew records the lineage of Christ through Joseph, Luke records the lineage of Christ through Mary beginning with Jesus (Luke 3:23), extending through David, Abraham and to Adam the first man (an amazing record of 76 generations).
A study of personalities in the lineage of Jesus Christ reveals men and women of both fame and infamy, while an undeniable commonality of sin emerges from the pages of Scripture that cries for a Savior Redeemer. Adam, “the son of God” (Luke 3:38), the first man and the federal head of mankind sinned and passed the curse of sin upon us all. Abraham, although a man of great faith, was a sinner. King David, a man after God’s own heart, allowed sinful lust to drive him to adultery and murder. Tamar the adulterer, Rahab the prostitute, Ruth a Moabite, Bathsheba an adulterer are all named in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:3-6). The reality that these flawed and imperfect men and women are in the lineage of Jesus Christ is a remarkable testimony of God’s grace.
How could one whose lineage is marked by sinful men and women be born perfect and sinless? Answer – Jesus Christ was more than a man; He was the God-Man, born of the Virgin Mary, the Incarnate Son of God, conceived of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:20). The Angel Gabriel testified to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Had Jesus been born of the seed of Joseph, He would have been born a sinner like all men. Jesus Christ was man because He was made of woman, but His nature was divine, sinless. He is the God-Man, the Only-begotten of God the Father (John 3:16), the Word made flesh (John 1:14).
What is the message of Christmas? It is that God, in the Person of His Son, became man and “humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). “In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace;” (Ephesians 1:7).
“Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
– Charles Wesley (1707-1788)