Tonight let’s explore for a moment what there might be to learn from the truth of Jesus’ lineage. In Matthew chapter 1, verses 1-16 we read of the bloodline that brought Christ to the world. Jesus’ genealogy begins with Abraham, which is fitting, as the covenant promises were first given to Abraham and renewed with Isaac and Jacob. It started with those men and was accomplished in Jesus that all of the nations of the earth would be blessed. There are many other genealogies in the Old Testament, but this one has a characteristic that distinguishes it greatly: it ends with a woman.
Why is it significant that Christ’s genealogy ends with Mary? Usually genealogies deal with and end at men; fathers are traditionally thought of as the authors of progeny. But this time is different. This bloodline mentions Joseph, but then merely refers to him as “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.” It stops with Mary because Joseph was not Jesus’ father; God was. Verse 20 says “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus’ physical father does not exist.
Another interesting component to Jesus’ genealogy is the inclusion of some that that we might not expect, considering that Jesus is the Son of God. In verse 3 of Matthew 1, we see Judah listed. Judah was decidedly less righteous than his brother Joseph. Why would Jesus’ earthly lineage not follow the most righteous of God’s people? Of course we can infer that Judah was not all bad and Joseph wasn’t perfect, but we know of both Judah’s behavior with Tamar and Joseph’s faith in God in Egypt, so, comparing the characters of these men, why would God choose to have Jesus’ earthly bloodline travel through Judah rather than Joseph? There are other such examples in Jesus’ genealogy; it would make sense to have the Son of God be borne through those with an inscrutable spiritual resume, right?
But the reality of this lineage is that it shows us God’s great capacity for mercy upon His people. The Abrahamic covenant came true in spite of the behavior of the descendants, not because of it. And Jesus descending from a lineage of chosen sinners is genuinely fitting considering the role he plays in the forgiveness of the sin of all mankind. In Jesus’ life, His divine birth is the first instance that compels us to believe He is the Christ; sacrificing His own life is the last. Because of these two great proofs, and all of the miracles, good news and revolutionary moral teaching that happened in between, we know our Savior and we believe. But there are many that do not. Doubters look at Christ, they look at the cross and they see a twisted fairy tale, the winningest version of “opiate for the masses” the world has yet known. We have an explanation for this in Romans 1:18-25:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
The application for this passage is wide, but I want us to think about how Satan would have us believe anything other than Christ’s divinity, no matter how ridiculous. He would have us believe that Christ was a mere man; that Jesus was a crazy zealot or a charismatic leader. This lie has persisted since the beginning of Jesus’ teachings and will likely persist until He returns. The idea that “A lie travels around the world before the truth can put its shoes on” endures because it is accurate. In the time of Christ, the popularity of His persecution compared with the small number of his followers proves it. Saul, the persecuting Pharisee, believed the lie that Christ was just a man and acted on it. Today, studies of truth and fabrication on social media prove that lies spread far faster than the truth. Only when Saul was blinded by the truth did he start working for the right thing. And only when one of us sees the truth in Christ do we also turn our lives around to begin living for the right thing. It is a change of identity.
Had it been possible for Jesus’ paternity to be tested, there would not have been a match to be found on the earth. Jesus was not half man and half God, but all man AND all God. The inexplicability of His birth adds to the miracle of His life and asks us to believe in what the world calls impossible foolishness. As believing Christians, we recognize the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is the fact upon which our faith rests. And if we believe in Christ as we rest in His embrace this morning at the table, we also must believe in the absolute authority and power that God has over all existence. If God could do such a thing, and we testify this morning that He did, God is bigger than the meager intellectual suppositions of the world. He is bigger than any institution, power, government, personality or intimidating force. He is bigger than the Churches of Christ, for He encompasses them. He is bigger than all we know. The sooner we bow to Him, the sooner He will work in both our temporal and eternal lives… Why are we here this morning? Surely not to fill a quota in our conscience, but to recognize the unbelievable … yet wholly believable blessing given to us by our Creator: Forgiveness through His perfect Son.