Is With Us
Many become elated when they trace their ancestral
roots and find some important person in their family tree? We are searching
for an identity that sets us apart from others. Somehow, we think that
our existence would be more meaningful if only we could identify with some
great person of the past or present.
What would it be like if you could have chosen
your genealogical descendants before you were born? Imagine—choosing your
own family ancestors? Try to imagine choosing your ancestors and descendants.
If this were possible, what kind of pedigree would you choose for yourself
and your children?
Most would choose their ancestors from a human
perspective. We would probably try to weave as many important persons as
possible into our genealogy. What important persons would you place in
your family tree? How impressive would your family tree be? Of all the
important people who have lived, what great persons would you choose to
be a descendant of? If we could choose, there is little doubt but what
there would be royal blood running through our veins right now?
God’s Chosen Lineage of His Son
As Matthew takes pen in hand to write about
the genealogy of Jesus Christ, he traces Christ’s genealogy from Abraham
to David to Joseph in eighteen short verses. Try to imagine God choosing
such a linage for his Son. The ancient Pharaoh’s of Egypt claimed ancestral
lineage with the gods they worship. The Caesars sought to deify themselves
in an attempt to place themselves in the presences of their gods. When
God sent his Son to become king, he simply had him born of human descent,
as the Son of man. We want to ascend to greatness, but God descended to
greatness (Philippians 2:5-10).
There is so much effort in religion to make
God so holy that he is all but unapproachable. Where do such ideas originate?
Sure he drove our first parents out of the garden, but he has been working
ever since to restore the personal relationship he enjoyed with humanity
before sin. The story of God as revealed in the scriptures is that God
desires to live with us. He didn’t choose an out-of-this-world ancestral
line for his Son.
Matthew traces the genealogy of Christ to
Abraham. However, as Luke traces the genealogy of Christ the king, the
Son of God, he traces his genealogy through Abraham to Adam. He shows us
that Jesus is the son of Adam who was the son of God. In John’s account
of the coming of Christ, he says that the creator became flesh and dwelt
among us. Matthew reveals that Gods Son would be called Immanuel, which
means God with us.
You may not know many in the ancestral lineage
of Matthew list. However, the message of Jesus’ genealogy is designed to
say one thing to our modern world. He is one of us!!! His genealogy tells
us that he has longed to be one of us since before the world was created.
"But after he had considered
this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph
son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because
what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to
a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his
people from their sins.'
"All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child
and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-which means,
"God with us.'" (NIV)
The Nature of Christ’s Reign
It is Luke’s account of Mary’s song
of praise about her conception of the Christ child that reveals the nature
of God’s coming.
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies
the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call
me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his
name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who
are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their
thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good
things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even
as he said to our fathers." (NIV)
Here in these verses God completely reverses
the values of humanity. These verses become so revolutionary and terrifying
to every human establishment, wherever they may be found. What turns every
establishment on its head is this---God chose to be one of us---He has
chosen to rule on earth as he does in heaven.
God came to dispense with our ideas about
greatness in order that we might become great. God came to reveal his
concern for the humble.
Mary’s song of praise reveals Christ came
to empower the weak and humble as he demolishes the world’s order of greatness.
Mary sings, "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted
up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the
rich away empty." He fills the hungry and sends the rich away empty
as he seeks fellowship with humanity. God sent his Son into this world
as one of us, as the humblest of the humblest. In the humblest circumstances,
God empowered him to become ruler of our world.
Few ever gain the status of greatness in the
eyes of the world, but in God’s order of things, every person on the earth
is offered a position of greatness in Jesus Christ.
I tell you the truth: Among
those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;
yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the
days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully
advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (NIV)
The genealogies of Christ reveal that God
empowers the weak and humble. Jesus empowered his disciples to greater
things than he had done. The Old Testament is a story of how God exalts
the humble as they allowed God to glorify himself through their lives.
Think of Abraham the nomad, Moses the murder, David the shepherd boy, Daniel
the captive, Esther who was brought to the kings harem, etc. It is a continuous
story of God exalting the humble while destroying the proud.
I tell you the truth, anyone
who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater
things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever
you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You
may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (NIV)
Jesus is not like many of us, he is
not afraid that he is going to be out done. The humble are exalted
as they allow God to be glorified in their lives. Jesus says, "And I
will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to
the Father." When Christ empowers the weak, it glorifies God.
Then Jesus told him, "Because
you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have believed." (NIV)
Most of the world is like the rich young ruler
who came to Jesus asking, "What good thing can I do to inherit eternal
life?" When we want to change our world we look for something great we
can do to impact our world for good. We march in Washington D. C. We start
a great movement. Jesus came to change the world by waging war in the hearts
of the weak and humble. I want to change the establishment, but Jesus came
to change me. God wants me to humble myself so that he can do something
great through me.
"At that time the disciples
came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’
"He called a little child and
had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you
change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom
of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest
in the kingdom of heaven.’" (NIV)
When he noticed how the guests
picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: "When
someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor,
for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so,
the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man
your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important
place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your
host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then
you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone
who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be
We Fear Weakness
We want God to take away our weakness
so that we can be strong and great. God gave us our weaknesses
to make us strong. Jesus came in weakness to display the power of God.
The proud, strong and great have a difficult time tuning in to their weaknesses.
But that is where their strength lies. Failing to recognize their weaknesses
is the very thing that brings their destruction.
The world’s idea of greatness is that the
powerful must maintain power over the weak. When the wise men told Herod
about the birth of the king of the Jews, he sought to kill every baby boy
in the vicinity of Bethlehem in attempt to insure his hold onto the throne
to his greatness. Our world empowers persons by squashing the week. Herod
didn’t succeed in killing the one who would eventually bring destruction
There is something very ironic about the story
of Jesus Christ. He was born to a teenage girl out of wedlock. He was born
in a stable. His birth was announced to Herod by wise men; they were astrologers
from the east. It is really hard to figure out who they were. One thing
is for sure, they weren’t Jewish. They aren’t the kind of people we would
want to announce the birth of a king. The angels announced Christ birth
to shepherds in the field. God chose strange ways to announce the birth
of a king.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
"For the message of the cross
is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved
it is the power of God. For it is written:
'I will destroy the wisdom of
the intelligence of the intelligent
I will frustrate.'
"Where is the wise man? Where
is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made
foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world
through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness
of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous
signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling
block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called,
both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For
the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of
God is stronger than man's strength." (NIV)
The world’s ideal of greatness will
lead most to believe that there is no real purpose for our lives. Your
life is the result of accidental blind forces in time and space. There
are people in our world that take delight in telling us we will never succeed.
It may be those in the work place, our homes even our spouses. We listen
to the lies of our past performance. We listen to lies of the enemy.
Our modern world is looking for the
source of life. It is right under our noses, but we refuse it every
day of our lives. The story of Jesus Christ is about empowering the weak
with the source of life. Weaknesses are designed to open our eyes to the
presence of the King. They are designed to point us to the source of life.
They were never designed to rob us of hope. He is the source to eternal
life. We have access to the source of life because God is with us.
It’s no accident that we seek purpose
for living. God instilled that sense in us to lead us to him. God
created each of us with a specific purpose in mind. It is critical that
we find God’s purpose for our lives. If we fail to discover God’s purpose
our lives will be wasted. If we outline a purpose for our lives that does
not square with God’s purpose we are doomed to self-destruction.
"This is what the LORD says:
'Cursed is the one who trusts
who depends on flesh for his
and whose heart turns away
from the LORD.
He will be like a bush in the
he will not see prosperity
when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched
places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one
'But blessed is the man who
trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted
by the water
that sends out its roots by
It does not fear when heat
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year
and never fails to bear fruit.'"
There is only one source of power to
change our lives and the direction of the world. That is the gospel
of Jesus Christ. We have power to change the direction of our world one
person at a time. God is so big, but he thinks so small. He changes the
world one heart at a time, one life at a time. The difference between God’s
approach to changing the world and our approach---God’s approach works.
From the birth of Christ until now, Christ
has been subduing his enemies for his footstool, as he brings everything
under heaven under his control. The cry of first century unbelievers was,
who have turned the world upside down have come here too" (Acts
I studied social work when I was in college.
But the study of social problems was frustrating to me. I saw that social
programs designed solve social problems only complicate the problems. How
can you hand teenagers a condom or birth control without encouraging them
to do the very thing they shouldn’t be doing.
Christians are God’s new creation in Christ
Jesus. God doesn’t call us his new creation for nothing. He is out to recreate
the world through us. That’s why he wants us to tell every person about
Christ. God seeks to lead us from degeneration to regeneration. The regeneration
begins with one heart at a time. It is done in the power of the risen savior
as he reigns in the world one heart at a time. It is the same power he
used in creation. It was the power manifested when he was resurrected to
life. It is the source of life.
God is with us. He wants King Jesus to be
regenerated in our hearts. There is a real need for hearts to be regenerated
through the rebirth of Christ from within each heart.
Jeremiah writes, "The heart is deceitful
above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah
17:9). Jesus tells us that human hearts are the source of the problem.
For out of the heart come evil
thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony,
slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed
hands does not make him 'unclean.'" (NIV)
Human hearts are bent on doing evil.
I know that nothing good lives
in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is
good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to
do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do
what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living
in me that does it.
So I find this law at work:
When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being
I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of
my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner
of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus
Christ our Lord! (NIV)
What made it possible for God to give his
only begotten Son? He saw the possibility of his Son being reborn in every
The gospel genealogies reveal more than bloodline
and pedigree. If you trace the lives of these people, you realize that
the gospel genealogies describe Jesus’ spiritual roots from one generation
to the next. Tracing genealogies from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Christ
reveal the righteous seed through whom God gave birth to his Son. Those
mentioned in the genealogies were those who chose to obey God. Not that
they were perfect, but they are the spiritual seed of Christ because they
chose to obey God. They were in Jesus’ ancestral genealogy by choice.
You really can choose your ancestors.
You are all sons of God through
faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have
clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor
free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong
to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
You can be included in the genealogy of Jesus
Christ. You can join the genealogy mentioned in the gospels. You can become
one of the righteous seed of Christ.
Remember he is God with us.
Does this change your thoughts about those
you would choose to be in your genealogy?