The family of God is a family with sex scandals and petty infighting and alcoholism and abuse. With disease and suffering and betrayal. With rejection and heartbreak and violence. The genealogy of Jesus reminds us of this truth—he came into the messiness of a broken family and broken world.
In Matthew’s record of Jesus’ birth, four women appear among the 72 fathers mentioned in this list of generations. Tamar, who posed as a sex worker and deceived her father-in-law into impregnating her. Rahab, a foreigner, also a sex worker. Ruth, a Moabite, who entered the story from outside the covenant promises to Israel. And “Uriah’s wife,” Bathsheba, a married woman who was summoned and possibly even raped by King David.
But Matthew’s genealogy does more than hint at the dysfunction and pain of this system. Matthew also highlights the purposes of God at work amidst the power struggles and heartache. Matthew tells us of 72 generations that have come before Jesus. Six sets of seven fathers. Jesus is the beginning of the seventh seven. Throughout the Bible, seven serves as a number of completion, of wholeness. Jesus comes as the fulfillment of the promises, the ultimate seventh seven, the one who will heal the brokenhearted and rescue the imprisoned and bring justice to the oppressed.
The message of Christmas is not a message of hope for the ones who have saved wisely for retirement and always spoken kindly to their children and never had too much punch at the holiday party. Christmas is a story of hope and peace and love precisely because God enters into the messiness of a world of broken relationships and broken hearts and broken minds and broken spirits. Jesus’ birth brought completion and wholeness and healing to his broken family.
The hope of Christmas is that his birth might bring healing and salvation to yours and mine too.
More with Amy Julia:
- S6 E8 | Christmas, When Church Lets You Down with Bekah McNeel
- The Infinite Became Finite
- Am I Willing to Be Interrupted by God’s Work of Love in the World?
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