Specifically — Matthew 1
It was April of 1974, I was a sophomore in high school and our church youth group was doing a Bible-reading marathon as a fundraiser for summer camp. Here’s how it worked, everyone who signed up to participate would read the Bible in 15 minute shifts. A table would be set up on the platform of the church sanctuary with a microphone present so that all throughout the church building you could always hear the Bible being read.
One person would read aloud, the next person sitting beside them “warming up” and ready to take over the next 15 minutes, while the “on deck” person sat close by. We began reading at 6pm sharp on Sunday night and kept going non-stop expecting to be done sometime Wednesday afternoon. The Sunday night start-up was a big deal! The church was going to be full, a supper and worship time proceeded that 6pm start. The local newspaper reporter and photographer were going to be present for the “Big Moment.” It was decided that we would actually start with the New Testament and then a vote was taken of the student participants to determine who would be the one to start the reading off in front of the press and full church. Moments before we began, I won the vote.
I was ecstatic until… Until I realized that before God and the entire world, I would be reading Matthew chapter 1, the Genealogy of Jesus.
Sure I was ok with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the likes of Judah, David and Solomon. But, there I was in the front of the world trying to say Amminadab, Nahshon, Jehoshaphat, Shealtiel and Zerubbabel. Not Good! Truth is many of us skip over or scan Matthew 1 and the list of names–most of which we may not know much about and many we can’t pronounce without embarrassing ourselves. But please don’t skip over this unread part of your family tree! That’s right; this is part of your family tree. Maybe not directly blood related, but actually in a real way your spiritual family tree….and what a family you can learn from! In your family tree are murderers, prostitutes, thieves, liars, products of incest, pagan worshipers and baby killers. Quite a family tree! But, this family tree, leading up to the Birth of Jesus, has some truth for you today.
A few simple truths:
- God’s plan is bigger than any one lifetime and is not fatal because of our failures
- God’s plan is not at stake or in jeopardy when evil seems to be winning
- Our family tree is really the ongoing story of God’s grace in our lives!
Truth is folks, for every one of our lives we have a history and family tree and it’s full of sordid stories, events and failures. But each of those truths applies to your life and mine. Grace is a wonderful thing!
So as you read Matthew 1 today, don’t skip over it! In fact read it out loud. Have fun with the names. Who cares how you pronounce them. As you read them, remember that their story is your story! It’s the story of grace!