ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS
December 17, 2011
Today’s gospel: Matthew 1:1-17
Every year this passage in Matthew on the genealogy of Jesus is read. The total number of generations (Mt 1:17) is 14 + 14 + 14 = 42, right?
This time I decided to actually count it. So from Abraham to David is 14. From David to the Babylonian exile (Jechoniah) is 15. From Jechoniah to Jesus is 14. So 14 + 15 + 14 = 43.
But David and Jechoniah are double-counted. So 43 – 2 = 41.
Is it 42, 43 or 41?
None of the above, because it is actually more. The genealogy is not strict history. The first set of generations is accurate (after the patriarchs, see the next generations in Ruth 4:18-22). The second set of generations, however, omitted Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah (or was it Joash, Amaziah and Azariah?) and also Jehoiakim (see 1 Chronicles 3:10-16). Then, for the third set of generations, 1 Chronicles 3:17ff mentions only Jeconiah, Shealtiel and Zerubbabel and from there the lineage to Abiud and following is lost (not in any Old Testament list).
This list is actually about salvation history. The promise to Abraham (heading the first set of generations) is being fulfilled (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18). The promise to David (heading the second set of generations) is being fulfilled (2 Samuel 7:8-16). How about Jechoniah (heading the third set of generations)? From the Babylonian captivity, God promises the restoration of Israel (Jeremiah 27:22; 28:4; 29:10-14). Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament.
But God is not done with salvation history. The fullness of salvation comes with the return of Jesus in glory, where we can finally enter into our eternal reward in heaven. In the meantime, people are still being lost. Jesus has already won salvation for all, but they need to accept that salvation through repentance and faith in him.
How can that happen? It happens when people are sent by God to preach the good news, people hear and believe and call upon the name of the Lord, thus they are saved (Rom 10:13-15a). Those who are sent are all Christ’s disciples, including ourselves. Or ourselves as CFC-FFL even more so, because we belong to an evangelistic and missionary community, whose reason for existence is to help people meet Christ, live Christ (discipleship and holiness) and share Christ (become evangelizers themselves).
The history of salvation is still being written. There were generations before Jesus, and there are generations after him.
Many in Matthew’s list are unknown to us. May you continue to do your work even in anonymity and without looking to earthly reward.
Some in Matthew’s list are people whom some today might not think worthy to be in Jesus’ genealogy. There were Tamar the harlot, David the adulterer and murderer, and Solomon who turned to strange gods. We too are unworthy, being sinners. But God extends to us His forgiveness, and still chooses to use us as His instruments. May you respond with gratitude and humility to God’s call.
So go and do your share in bringing God’s salvation to others. I pray that your name, and those of your lineage, will be included among the generations that will be part of God’s wonderful work.
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