Prepare to Listen. Light the 1st purple candle and be still and silent for however long it takes. Pray: Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 1:1-2a, 16b-18
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah…. 16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. 17So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations. 18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.” However, that’s not where Matthew begins Jesus’ story. Before we read about his birth, we must first wade through 42 generations, some known only as a name in a genealogy.
The long, boring list of names proves Jesus had the right to the titles Messiah and King. It also underscores his very Jewish roots, the rock from which he was hewn. If we wish to know his story, we must, as Philip Yancey maintained, “learn something of his culture, family, and background.” His family tree is a good place to start. Some names on the tree are, to say the least, embarrassing—Judah treated his daughter-in-law, Tamar as a prostitute; Rahab, mother of Boaz, was a Jericho harlot; Ruth, the mother of Obed, King David’s grandfather was a Moabite foreigner; Manasseh, did abominable practices. It seems, God chose to work through unlikely people and thus, Matthew seems to say, watch what else God can and will do; whom God can will use.
Then the list ends with a surprise. After all those names of humans, Mary was found to be with child, not from Joseph, but the Holy Spirit. The genealogy that begins the New Testament is our assurance that God keeps promises and God’s purposes will be fulfilled. And, as Wright states, “God still works like this today: keeping his promises, acting in character and yet always ready with surprises for those who learn to trust him.”
Reflect on ways God has surprised you.
Respond in Prayer
Your family tree, O Lord, has many unlikely characters in it, yet you unabashedly name and own them. Your ways are truly inclusive. Help me be more like you, welcoming to all. Amen.
Live Obediently. Watch what else God will do.
 Yancey, Philip. The Jesus I Never Knew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 1995: 50.
 Wright, N. T. Matthew For Everyone, Part 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. 2004, p. 4.
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Reading my Bible has been central in my life since I received my first Bible at 8 years of age. My decades of reading, studying and teaching the Bible gives my devotions a unique and enriching perspective. Reflecting on Jesus' family tree enriched my understanding of Jesus and the salvation he offers.