Grace and joy to you this day!
Part of my devotional habits include reading a portion of the Old Testament almost every day. I work through it so that I read it all each year. Today I found myself beginning I Chronicles. This is not exciting reading. It is a series of genealogical lists beginning with Abraham and including the lines of Jacob’s twelve sons. This goes on for a number of pages (9 chapters!). There are interesting tidbits here and there but overall, not too exciting.
Of course it was important for the Israelites. A male could not serve as a priest unless he was of the “line” of Aaron. A male could not serve in the temple unless he was of the “line” of Levi. A male could not be king unless he was of the “line” of David.
And today, as in Old Testament times and the times of Jesus, one is a Jew because of lineage. One is born a Jew. There have always been opportunities for Gentiles (non-birthed Jews) to become Jews but not many have taken those steps. Judaism has never been an “evangelistic” religion.
The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:2-17 is written to show that Jesus is the “Messiah” (the anointed one) and has a royal, Jewish identity…“the son of David, the son of Abraham.” The whole of Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus is designed to help Jews see that Jesus is the one whom God promised would deliver and redeem the nation of Israel.
But there is a twist to the story. It turns out that Jesus didn’t come just to deliver and redeem Israel, but the people of every nation, tribe and tongue! Not just men, but women as well! Not just the ritually pure, but the outcasts and sinners! Jesus is the anointed one for all.
One way in which this matters for us is that there are only first generation Christians. We are not born into our faith identity. We do not inherit the deep, abiding faith our parents or grandparents may have had. We are called individually to make a decision to follow Jesus.
That decision births in us the DNA of Jesus and we become the children of God. The apostle John puts it this way: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray; Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today! Amen