An Insightful Moment
Under a Tree
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A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of
Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother
had been Uriah's wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time
of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Matthew 1:1-16
As a frontispiece to his gospel Matthew places a family tree.
The tree is rooted in Israel's greatest patriarch, Abraham, and in
its greatest king, David.
The fruit of the tree is Jesus.
Throughout Matthew's gospel is this pattern of root and
fruit. The root of Old Testament prophecies. The fruit of New
Testament fulfillment. Rachel weeping for her children becomes
the collective tears of Bethlehem's mothers for the infants slaughtered
by Herod. The voice crying in the wilderness, of which
Isaiah speaks, becomes the preaching of John the Baptist. The
striking down of the shepherd and the scattering of the sheep,
recorded in Zechariah, are fulfilled the night of Jesus' betrayal.
Writing to the Jews, Matthew quotes the Old Testament
more than any other gospel writer. He sees within the richly furrowed
lines of the Psalms, rows of truth rooting below the surface.
And within the seemingly fallow words of the Prophets,
fields of seeds lying dormant in the soil.
Dormant but expectant.
For ever since the ruin of Eden, all creation has awaited its
Savior, the promised seed that would one day restore Paradise.
Season after season it has waited. Century after century. Millennium
The hope of such a Savior is a universal longing. In pagan
myths an echo of that hope, however distant or muffled, can be
heard. In ancient legends a glimpse of that dream, however vague
or distorted, can be seen. Within Israel, the hope was more distinct.
The dream, more vivid. It was the hope of every expectant
mother and the dream of every pacing father.
The dream of a Savior.
And the hope that he would come soon.
The Savior would come from a royal line. That much everyone
knew. The line would originate with Abraham and branch
through David. Yet despite how sturdy its trunk and how
spreading its limbs, the Savior's family tree had its share of blight
and barrenness, of bent twigs and broken branches.
Abraham, for example. A man of faith. But a man who also
lied, sending his wife into the arms of Pharaoh and putting the
promised seed in jeopardy. And he did this not in one moment
of wavering faith but on two separate occasions.
And there was David. He was, the Scriptures tell us, a man
after God's own heart. But he was also a man after other things.
Bathsheba, for one. With whom he committed adultery. And
for whom he committed murder.
Rahab was a harlot, an unsightly knot on the family tree.
Ruth was a foreigner, an unexpected graft, since marriages
to foreigners were forbidden by Jewish law.
Uriah's wife goes unnamed in Matthew's list, but she is
Bathsheba. Another adulterer.
Then there's the forked branch of Judah. And the twisted
branch of Manasseh. And when we've gone through the entire
line, we're left scratching our head, wondering, What are we to
make of this tree through whose branches came the Savior of the
world? What are we to make of all the sin, all the imperfection, all
Simply this. That God's purposes are not thwarted by our
humanity, however weak and wayward it may be. That he works
in us and through us and, more often than not, in spite of us.
That he works with us, as a gardener works with his garden. Lifting.
Pruning. Watering. Weeding. Whatever it takes to bring it
to fruition. Or however long it takes.
This is our hope. That season after season he walks the
uncultivated fields of each generation. His providential hands
at work in the dark, cloddy soil. His careful eyes at watch over
the growth. Watching over the budding faith of the young
and over the branching influence of the old. So that something
beautiful may blossom from our frail and nubby reach
for the sky.
Thank you, God,
That the genealogy of your Son is a lineage of grace, a
testimony to the reach of your love throughout the generations.
Thank you for reaching across those generations for me.
And for ever so patiently grafting me into that tree. Thank
you for the firmness of your hand and the tenderness of your
touch. I have needed both at one time or another, and doubtless
I will need both again. Continue to lift and to prune. To
water and to weed. And to do whatever it takes to bring me
to a place where I have something to offer others.
Thank you for the autumns in my life that have humbled
me with their losses. For the winters that have strengthened
me with their cold. For the springs that have renewed me with
their sap. And for the summers that have given me an opportunity
to share the fruit you have cultivated in my life.
O Lord, who watched so faithfully over those families
who waited for the Savior to come, watch over my family who
waits for him to come again