"Shaking the Family Tree"

Ps Randy Bain

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matthew 1:1

Many folks are interested in their family tree these days, but one never knows whether they will find good or bad when shaking their tree. My last name, Bain, is English, but I know very little about that side of the family. Everyone I know on both the protestant and the Roman Catholic sides of my family are German. I do not know many famous or infamous ancestors although I am told my grandfather used to own a fairly rough and tumble bar.

We often look at our ancestors, maybe even our parents, and blame our present circumstances on a poor upbringing and challenging family setting. If our family tree controlled who we would become, one would expect trouble ahead for someone whose family leaves include: incest, deceit, prostitution, adultery, and murder. If I knew these were in my lineage, I would avoid shaking that tree at all cost.

A professor once told me how to make reading the genealogies in the Bible more interesting. He said to get the rhythm of the genealogy and then look for breaks in that rhythm. In Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, he rhythmically repeats, “[so and so] was the father of [blank], and [blank] the father of [blank2] and [blank2] the father of [blank3].” He includes four names and three “the father of” in each verse. Take verse 4 as an example: “Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon” (Matthew 1:4).

Matthew breaks this pattern five times by including women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary (verses 1:3, 5, 5, 6, and 16). By reading the background stories of each of these women, we find foreign (even enemy) bloodlines, prostitution, deceit, incest, adultery and murder. This is the earthly family tree of Jesus, and we do not have to shake the tree to find it. The Bible puts all these skeletons right out in the open. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus came to earth, lived our lives, and understood what it was to be ridiculed and discounted. Jesus did not allow any of these things to prevent Him from living a godly life—“tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Also, these five women included in Jesus’ family tree had a questionable history but were used by God to accomplish the greatest mission in the history of the world, bringing Jesus the Messiah to earth to save us.

What’s holding you back? Do you have a questionable heritage? So did Jesus. Do you have folks around you that hate you? So did Jesus. Do you have bigger challenges ahead that are not humanly possible to overcome? So did Jesus, but He relied upon His heavenly Father and found strength in the Holy Spirit.

God loves you. Jesus knows the cards you have been dealt. Jesus knows the challenges you face. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Shake your family tree all you like. Jesus created you, knows you, and calls you His own. ♦

For more by Pastor Randy Bain, visit his blog, and be sure to read the local Our Town where he contributes regularly.