Liars. Deceivers. Schemers. Murderers. Adulterers. Idol worshippers. Child sacrificers. Polygamists. Prostitutes. Jesus' earthly Family Tree is gnarled and grossly misshapen, with all sorts of sordid and sorry characters.
In today's terms, we call that dysfunctional. The prefix dys means “ill, bad.” Used in conjunction with the word function, it means “badly functioning.” Which aptly describes not only Jesus’ Family Tree but everyone else’s since the dawn of Adam and Eve. Sin creates dysfunction. My own Family Tree, going back only two generations, includes deep dysfunction: an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a relative in prison. I used to be embarrassed by this, until I researched Jesus’ genealogy from the Book of Matthew and found His Tree to be just as equally filled, if not more so, with hyperdysfunction.
Here’s a small sampling:
Abraham: lied about his wife being his sister, to save his own skin
Judah: collaborated with his half-brothers to leave Joseph to die in a cistern, but instead they reconsidered and sold him to some traders
Rahab: a practicing prostitute
David: had Uriah killed after sleeping with Uriah’s wife and impregnating her
Manasseh: sacrificed his son upon an altar he built to Baal
And many others, who “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”
Biblical scholar Raymond Brown has this to say about Jesus' genealogy in comparison to ours: “The God who wrote the beginnings with crooked lines also writes the sequence with crooked lines, and some of those lines are our own lives and witness. A God who did not hesitate to use the scheming as well as the noble, the impure as well as the pure, men to whom the world harkened and women upon whom the world frowned — this God continues to work through the same mélange.”
Amen! And that’s the point. Despite the despicable and dishonorable actions and behavior of some of Jesus’ ancestors, God remained true to His promise to bring the Messiah through these sinners. “The Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David because of the covenant that He had made with David, since He had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever” (2 Chronicles 21:7). God remained devoted to these sinners and to His Davidic agreement, until it consummated in the birth of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, our God is the perfect Promise Keeper. This is Good News, dear friends. Our dysfunctional families do not define who we are. Therefore, we needn’t be ashamed of our lineage and those rascals therein. Yes, our Family Trees have broken and twisted branches (some more than others), but our Sovereign God can and does graciously and gloriously “straighten” them through forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. It’s all part of the wonderful story He’s written in the past and continues to write in the present. And going forward.
Amen and amen!