Matthew’s Gospel opens with all the promise of a new beginning. Yet, as he recounts the generations from Abraham to David, from David to the exile, and from the exile to Jesus, he begins our journey forward with Jesus by leading us to take a look back at Jesus’ family tree. There we see the names of men and women whose lives reveal a mixture of failure and faith. There’s David in the middle of it all, who rose higher and fell as hard as anyone on the list. There we see names we might expect to see on such a list and others we might not. Rahab and Ruth were not Israelites by birth, but they walked with God by faith. And there are names from Israel’s best days and their worst. Even the exile to Babylon is prominently featured.
As we look back at the names on the list, what we find are the names of fallen people living in a broken world. What we see in the family tree of Jesus is not a list of perfectly faithful people but the hand of an unfailing God, who would not be deterred from the new beginning He had promised to bring about through His people. Jesus’ family tree points to the God who keeps His promises, the God who invites us–faltering and failing, unexpected and inconsistent–to join the family and follow Jesus.
As we read through Matthew’s Gospel over the coming weeks, I pray that we get a fresh look at the One we are following. I pray that we will see and hear and obey His teaching. I pray that as we behold the glory of the Lord, we will be transformed into His image, from one degree of glory to another.