An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
So 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.
What comes to mind when you see the words, “Once upon a time?”
Do you think of a particular story? Perhaps it’s a fairy tale from your childhood? Like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Flea and the Professor.” This is a story about a young professor who loses everything in the world - except a flea who lives in his vest.
Having to start all over again, the two become best of friends who create a circus act and tour the world. On their adventures they overcome shipwrecks, cannibals, and fits of tickling.
It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized this tale is more than whimsical entertainment. It also speaks to the idea of redemption and renewal, the key narrative of the entire Bible.
Stories are told in many different ways. Cave drawings communicated what language couldn’t.
Museums use photographs and found objects to tell us about our towns and national heritage.
And tattoos that once told of a sailor’s wild oversea adventures now record one’s turbulent journey through cancer.
The Gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogical account of those whose lives are interwoven into Jesus’.
This was an ancient Hebrew technique that established a person’s legitimacy and inheritance rights. Matthew uses it to assert Jesus’ legal claim to the thrown of David, and his ancestral tie to God’s covenant promise with Abraham.
While many are omitted from this genealogy isn’t unexpected, what is unusual is the addition of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Not only are they women, but three of the five are of questionable character, and two are not even Jewish.
Some of the men on this list are questionable as well. Jechoniah, for example, was so evil that God cursed his family. Yet his name is included in Jesus’ story.
What does that say to you, about your life and your place in God’s kingdom? While I believe Jesus is divine by nature, these names tell me that his humanity comes from people no different than you and I.
Their stories let me know that God loves me so much that he was willing to enter into my dysfunction and messiness in order to redeem me and weave me into this heavenly narrative.
The Bible is filled with people like us. Blessed people, cursed people, bad and good people. Faithful or fearful, fearless or faithless God doesn’t overlook anyone.
We are never too broken or too messed up to be a part of God’s storied love. We might be different people, but in God’s eyes we’re all the same: Beloved.
Dan Allender writes, “Take seriously the story that God has given you to live. It’s time to read your own life, because your story is the one that could set us all ablaze.”
The one thing all humans have in common is we all have a story to tell. And somewhere in yours, God is at work writing a great plot with a fantastic ending. Better yet, Jesus shares our story, just as we share in his. He knows what it’s like to be betrayed, to be hurt, or to feel abandoned. He also knows what it’s like to love and be loved, to forgive and to be forgiven, to give and to receive.
Being a part of Jesus’ story means our personal story will end in victory – our final chapter concludes with each one of us fulfilling our God-given destiny.
Your life may have begun “Once upon a time.” But thanks to our blessed Lord and Savior, all of our stories can end the same way: “They lived happily ever after.”
Prayer: God of my light and life, thank you for writing me into your story. As each day brings a new adventure, a new plot twist, or dramatic surprise, help me to live out the words that you have written on my heart. Amen.