Immanuel's Unexpected Arrival Part 1

A few months ago I was driving in the car with my wife Deedre and the Lord convicted me to do a series on the gospel of Matthew. As we were driving I started reflecting on the genealogy of Matthew chapter 1. Often when we read the Bible we tend to skip over the genealogies as if they are not telling us something important. However the genealogy of Christ tells us a lot about the family He inherited. It also tells us a lot about the human family in general. Have you noticed lately, that the human family is broken. Just look at what is happening in our society right now. Just look at the broken families, racial issues and outright injustice we are experiencing today. It makes you wonder why would God want to identify with us at all! When I thought of the sinful, dysfunctional characters in Jesus family tree it caused me to think of a Matthew West song called “Family Tree.” I want you to check out the this song and what inspired it in this video… 

    Isn’t that powerful. I especially love the last part of the song you just heard that says, “He’s bringing new life to your family tree now.” Today in Matthew 1, Jesus will show us, from His first coming three ways He is with us right now, in a three part blog entitled, “Immanuel's Unexpected Arrival.”

    Even though the gospel of Matthew is the first book we encounter in the New Testament, it is not the first gospel that was written. The gospel of Mark (which is really Peter’s account of the Jesus story) was actually the first gospel written. So why is Matthew the first gospel we encounter in the New Testament? Because of the genealogy it begins with. The early church felt that this genealogy connects its reader with the major characters of the Old Testament, thus creating the perfect transition from Old Testament to New Testament. This gospel was also written by Matthew-Levi, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, to a primarily Jewish Christian audience. Matthew, himself, was a Jewish Christian. He also was writing with a particular theological focus in mind. He wants you to know that Jesus, the Messiah, is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament covenantal promises. He also wants to show the Jewish reader and ultimately us, that Jesus is in the direct line of Abraham and David, and thus is the Jewish Messiah or Christ in Greek. He tells us this immediately in the the first verse.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
— Matthew 1:1 NKJV

 As you begin to read this genealogy you come across some names that most of us would consider heroes of the faith. You come across names like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah, whom most of us would think were pretty good. But a close examination of there lives reveal deceit, several bad decisions and major character flaws. Then, surprisingly for its time, you come across the names of four women in a predominantly male genealogy. One was a prostitute, the other pretended to be one and committed incest. Another committed adultery with King David and it was so bad that her name doesn’t even get mentioned in the genealogy. Matthew simply says, “her who had been the wife of Uriah.” The fourth woman wasn’t even an Israelite and was originally treated as an outcast. The list of names in this family tree seems to have some bright spots like Boaz, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah, but then you come across some really shady characters like Rehoboam, Manasseh and Jeconiah. You see the truth of the matter is that the family tree of Jesus reveals a family full of dysfunction. This is Jesus’ family. You would think He would choose to come through a better family line, but in the fullness of time He came through this messed up family tree as it reads in…

And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
— Matthew 1:16 NKJV

    You see when Jesus steps on to the seen of human history He chooses to identify with the brokenness of the human family with all its generational baggage from about 4000 years of sin. And its the same way when you encounter Jesus for the first time. You come to Him with all the baggage of cultivated and inherited family dysfunction. You bring with you sins that have been passed down from generation to generation and in spite of that He says I am with you. I identify with you.

The unexpected arrival of Jesus to this earth is an announcement that…

God is with us in our messed up family tree

    I remember when I first came to Jesus. I was 12 years old and sitting in an evangelistic series. At that time in my life my mother and father were having problems in their marriage. It had been six years since my father was a permanent figure in the house and at this point there were a lot of accusations flying around between my parents. And there, in the midst of this tense family situation, Jesus called to my heart and said I am with you. You are mine. You don’t have to repeat the history of your parents. I will be your Father. Give your life to Me. And that very night, during the appeal in that evangelistic series, I got up to give my life to Jesus in baptism. I encountered Jesus in the midst of my families dysfunction. My father wasn’t even at my baptism, but my heavenly Father was with me.

    It has always been God’s desire to be with us. From the very beginning of the story of redemption you see God walking in the cool of the evening, face to face with Adam and Eve, in unbroken love and fellowship. Then after we fell, sin broke that face to face fellowship. So generations latter God delivers His people from Egypt and then instructs Moses, in Exodus 25:8, “…let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” Then throughout the old testament, He uses the covenantal language of “I will be your God and you will be My people.” He wanted His people to know that He wants to be with them. Then finally Jesus comes in the incarnation and the apostle John would write of Him in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” That is to say that He tabernacled with us, like His presence with us in the wilderness sanctuary. He lived among us to be God with us in the flesh. Now God was up close and personal. I love what Ellen White says in her beautiful book on the life of Jesus, the Desire of Ages P.24, she says…

“Since Jesus came to dwell with us, we know that God is acquainted with our trials, and sympathizes with our griefs. Every son and daughter of Adam may understand that our Creator is the friend of sinners. For in every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine attraction presented in the Saviour's life on earth, we see "God with us.””  She is saying that everything we see in the life of Jesus is telling us that God identifies with us.”  Then she says “In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are bound together. Christ glorified is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love.” Desire of Ages P. 25-26. Here she tells us that in Christ the messed up dysfunctional human family has been elevated to divine dignity. You see, the first coming of Jesus was God stepping into the human story and rewriting it with Jesus’ holy history. He is bringing new life to our family tree now!

    This is what He wants to do in your life. He wants to take your sinful story and rewrite it with His holy history. In spite of your brokenness and dysfunctional family tree. Regardless of your inherited or cultivated tendencies, God still wants to be with you. He identifies with you. He has and will rewrite your history. He will take your sinful life and give you credit with His holy life. Jesus calls you family and changes the legacy of your family tree!