Today, we light the Green, Black, Blue and Gold Candles. The Green Candle represents life and all that Father God created in Christ, Good and Whole. The Black Candle represents the Evil and Corruption of Sin that entered our World through our rebellion. The Blue candle represents the Hope that comes from the Promises of a future Savior and King. The Gold candle represents the birth of the long expected King and Savior.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matthew begins his Gospel with a long list of names from the family of Jesus. Not exactly spine-tingling reading. But there is more going on here than we might first notice. This “dry” genealogy not only illuminates the identity of Jesus, but it shows how God uses a scandalous, oftentimes unseemly, family to achieve His purposes.
1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 1:2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 1:3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 1:4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 1:5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 1:6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 1:7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 1:8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 1:9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 1:10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 1:11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
1:12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 1:13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 1:14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 1:15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 1:16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
First, Matthew is seeking to show that Jesus is the heir to the promises to Abraham and David. So he starts with all the familiar names that you would expect to find establishing this fact. He begins with the simple statement, “The genealogy of Jesus Christ, The Son of David, The Son of Abraham.” As anyone familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures would know, the Promise of the Messiah was built on the Promises given to Abraham and David – it is through their family line that the Savior would come. Other familiar names you would expect also appear: Isaac, Jacob, Hezekiah, Josiah, etc. Jesus is descended through the promised “seed” line.
But then Matthew throws in some names that we would not expect. And they are all names of women! Tamar, Rahab, Ruth (a Moabite, excluded from the assembly of Israel), Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba). At this point, any good Israelite would “wake up.” Why would Matthew include these names?
If you go back and look at each of these women’s stories you discover that these women are not ones that would necessarily be first on the “Esteemed Spiritual Women of the Bible” roster. In fact, these names lead us to some embarrassing narratives of Scripture. Incest, prostitution, entrapment, adultery and murder are not “virtues” we would associate with The Christ, The Anointed One, The King!
The women’s stories in Jesus’ family tree are all scandalous to say the least. But this very fact points us to the main point: The Lord God’s purposes are accomplished through His grace and mercy! From the very beginning, The Lord accomplishes His purposes in and through human failure and foolishness, not in spite of it.
Matthew also includes a huge problem to be solved; he includes the name Jechoniah. Who is he? Jechoniah is also known by the names Jehoiachin (1 Chronicles 3:16) and Coniah (Jeremiah 22:24). Jechoniah was a king in Judah who was so faithless that he was cut off by The LORD: “This is what the Lord says: Record this man as childless, a man who will not be successful in his lifetime. None of his descendants will succeed in sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah” (Jeremiah 22:30).
Now look at that last declaration: “none of his descendants will succeed in sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah…” Nobody in their right mind would include this name in a proper genealogy of The King. What is going on?
First, it is clear that we need to understand that Jesus has no human father. When Matthew gets to Joseph, he does not follow his established pattern of “Joseph fathered Jesus…” Instead he says, “Joseph was the husband of Mary who gave birth to Jesus who is called The Christ, The Anointed, The Messiah, The King. Joseph is the husband of Mary, not the physical father of Jesus. As we have already heard, Jesus as conceived through the Holy Spirit.
When the angel had appeared to Joseph in the dream, he had told him: “Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus (Yeshua, meaning “YHWH saves!”), because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus will save His people from their sins.
Like every other family, Jesus’ family was made up of the sinful, the faithless and the foolish.
And these are the very people that Jesus would come to save.