07.06.08 The Dysfunctional Genealogy of Jesus

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Slide 1 “Title”

·         There’s a song made famous by Ray Stevens that tells the story of a widow who remarried and later her grown daughter married her new husband’s father.  Then each couple had a child.  The lyrics tell us:

o    This made my dad my son-in-law

o    My daughter was my mother, cause she was my father’s wife

o    Father’s wife then had a son

o    He became my grandchild, for he was my daughter’s son

o    My wife is now my mother’s mother

o    Now if my wife is my grandmother

o    Then I’m her grandchild

o    As husband of my grandmother

o    I’m my own grandpa

·         The research of genealogies has become a very popular pastime if not passion for many people.

o    I know that Lynn has roots that run to General Custer and Geronimo

o    It’s caused an inner tension in her family that manifests when we play Pictionary and they can’t decided which side to be on.

o    I think that’s part of the draw in researching genealogy: is there some one of infamy or notoriety in our family tree.

o    I met a fellow Harris who told me the Harris clans (at least those from Wales in Britain) come from a clan of pirates.

·         So, as the New Testament begins, in the very first gospel the writer, Matthew, lays out the genealogy of Jesus.

o    My guess is most of us skip the first 15 verses of chapter 1 if we’re reading through Matthew.

o    It might be better if the names were like Tim, George, Bill, Susie, and Ed.

o    But we have names like Zerubbabel and Eliakim and Salathiel.

o    It’s the passage we dread being asked to read out loud in a bible study group.

o    With all the noisy names and dry lists of lineage it’s tough for 21st century minds to see beyond the initial black and white list; they’re just necessary evils.

·         Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience so he was writing from a Jewish perspective.

o    Genealogy was very important to the Jew.

o    Your genealogy told you who your people were, what tribe they came from, and most importantly if you were 100% Jewish – were you a part of the Promised People.

o    So they kept very tight family trees.

·         I see the genealogies like a Bev Dolittle painting.

·         Slide 2 “Painting”

o    At first you see a nice painting with an obvious scene in the first layer.

o    But as you look closer at the painting, new images arise that begin to bring out new elements of the paintings story.

o    We’ve already established that Jews placed a high value on genealogy; family history was important, much more so than it is in our culture.

o    They also knew that the Messiah would come from King David’s line.

o    Matthew showed the Jewish audience that Jesus had royal blood in His veins.

§  If you can’t prove you’re royalty by your lineage, then you aren’t royalty.

o    While the first seventeen verses of Matthew seem dry and foreign to us, it established the validity of what was to follow in the rest of the gospel.

§  Without the genealogy, Jesus was just one of many other “messiahs” of the time.

o    In the genealogy of Jesus we not only see the lineage that connects Jesus to the line of King David, (the needed proof of authenticity for the Jewish mind) we see a picture of God working in the midst of a fallen people like you and me.

o    Because frankly, the family tree of Jesus was highly dysfunctional.

Slide 3 “Title”

·         God is not dysfunctional… people are dysfunctional.

o    Nothing is haphazard with God; even the Son of God’s family tree.

o    God knew what He was doing; He understood the ramifications of every event and circumstance.

o    It was the same with the family tree of His Son.

o    It flows through 28 generations and around 1700 years.

o    Even women are mentioned in His family tree – not seen in OT genealogies.

o    The family tree is divided into three divisions of fourteen. 

§  Three was considered the divine number of perfection and fullness.

§  Seven or any multiple of seven (fourteen) symbolized perfection.

o    Matthew was showing that God was in control and God’s perfect plan lead to Jesus.

o    The incarnation of Jesus, God in the flesh, wasn’t a last minute idea.

§  God had been working the plan throughout history.

§  The appearance of Jesus on earth was the culmination of a divinely inspired plan to make life available to His creation.

·         The faces on the tree…

o    Reading the genealogy of Jesus is like looking at a family album.

o    Looking at the faces in the album brings back good and sometimes not so good memories associated with people.

o    Now, in our humanness we’d expect God’s family album, the family album of Jesus, to be filled with people who lived stellar lives; this is the family of the Son of God were talking about.

o    But, just like looking at a Bev Dolittle painting, when we look closer we see all kinds of different pictures emerging.

o    There are skeletons in God’s family closet.

o    Let me give you some examples:

Slide 4 “Abraham…”

§  Abraham said that his wife was his sister, twice, so that he wouldn’t have to fight for her; Abraham the coward and liar.

Slide 5 “Isaac…”

§  Isaac did the same thing, and got caught snuggling up to her.

Slide 6 “Jacob…”

§  Jacob lied to his father, cheated his brother and ripped off his father-in-law.

Slide 7 “Rahab…”

§  Rahab was a woman (unusual in OT genealogies) and a prostitute.

Slide 8 “Ruth…”

§  Ruth was a gentile from a despised country.

Slide 9 “Solomon…”

§  Solomon allowed his wives… and he had a bunch… to worship false gods.

Slide 10 “Rehoboam…”

§  Rehoboam split the nation of Israel in two.

Slide 11 “Many kings…”

§  Many of the kings in Jesus’ line were not good men.

·         They often worshipped false gods.

·         They could be tyrants.

·         They did many cruel things.

·         King Manasseh even sacrificed his own son to an idol.

Slide 12 “Two notable…”

o    Two notable examples of dysfunction:

Slide 13 “Judah and Tamar…”

§  Judah and Tamar:  Genesis 38

Slide 14 “King David…”

§  King David:

Slide 15 “Title”

o    God wasn’t working through a story book, He was working in the nitty-gritty, fallen, ugly, sometimes faithful, lives of people like you and me.

o    Redeemable, but full of flaws.

§  The one common characteristic among everyone in the lineage of Jesus was their incredible propensity to be down-right human and down-right sinful.

§  Some of you may be thinking, “And I thought my family was bad!”

§  Jesus had royal blood in Him, but He also had the blood of murderers, cheats, liars, prostitutes, pagans and swindlers as well.

§  Yet Jesus Himself was without sin… that power!

§  And it was through this blood-line that God’s plan to bring us into new life flowed.

Slide 16 “God can…”

§  God can take the unlikeliest people and messed up situations, turn them upside down and use them for His purposes… in fact evidence would suggest He prefers this method – actually there is no other alternative.

Slide 17 “While God…”

·         While God uses us in our dysfunction, He never celebrates our sin.

o    God is bigger than our failure.

o    He isn’t surprised by our failure.

o    If we refuse to move with Him, He can always use someone else.

o    He doesn’t wring His hands when we’re acting like the dysfunctional kids we are.

o    We can’t fail our way out of reach of hope in Jesus; even the one who intentionally turns their back on God – there is hope to the end.

o    Sin, the failure of people, finds its root in our self-centered pursuit of what we want.

§  God understands the depth of the issue: sin destroys our soul and keeps us from Him.

o    God doesn’t want to leave us there.

o    Not so we feel better about ourselves, but so we can be a part of His plan, so we can know Him more.

o    Without outside intervention we are doomed to the consequences of our failure, our sin.

o    The only one who can give us the new life we need is found at the end of this family tree – Jesus.

o    He is what it is all about.

Slide 18 “Title”

·         If we have found life in Jesus, we are a part of His dysfunctional family tree.

o    It’s amazing how messed up some of Jesus’ earthly ancestors were.

o    We might even look around and think, “It’s amazing how messed up some of the people in Christ’s church are too.”

o    Remember though, it’s easy to point fingers at others until you realize you’re looking into a mirror.

o    We’ve been grafted into God’s family tree.

o    Here’s a warning sign for us:

§  If you’ve been in the organized church for long it is relatively easy to be lulled to sleep (not just be sermons) but by lethargic religiosity.

§  We’re doing the do’s and avoiding the don’ts.

§  We’re comfortable in our roles and feel secure in our level of knowledge of God.

§  But where would our faith be if all of this was removed from us?

§  Jesus didn’t come, live among us and die so we could have nice church services in nice buildings on Sunday’s or Wednesday’s or whenever.

§  Falling into complacency may lead to wilting.

·         Maybe we’re attached to the tree, but we’ve stopped drawing abundant life from the source.

·         We find ourselves much more concerned with the arrangement of the branches than if we are allowing ourselves to be a usable part of the tree.

§  If we’re not growing, we’re dying.

·         The Spirit of Jesus who lives with us doesn’t want to leave us where we are.

Slide 19 “One of…”

o    Dallas Willard in “Renovation of the Heart”: “One of the amazing things about the human being is that it is capable of restoration, and indeed of a restoration that makes it somehow more magnificent because it has been ruined.”

o    What is the key to restoration and renewal of dysfunctional lives?  Lose yourself to knowing God.

§  How? Make it your life prayer.  Father, I want to know You.  In every aspect of my life may I come to know Your presence, Your perspective, what drives Your heart.

o    It’s in knowing God more and more that are motivations, our wants, our definition of what we live for changes.

o    In essence we come to the place where we always get what we want, because our wants cease to be about what we want, but instead become about what God wants.

o    That’s transformation.

o    One description of a transformed dysfunctional heart in the family tree:

Slide 20 “I appeal…”

Romans 12
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Slide 21 “Do not…”

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Slide 22 “For by…”

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Slide 23 “For as in…”

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

Slide 24 “We have…”

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Slide 25 “Let love…”

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Slide 26 “Rejoice in…”

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Slide 27 “Live in harmony…”

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Slide 28 “Beloved…”

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”

Slide 29 “Do not…”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. NRSV

Slide 30 “Scene”

·         Jesus is looking to reshape our lives so that the dysfunctions of our past and present do not determine how we chose to function and define our future.

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