Have you ever wondered like me why God chose to start off the New Testament with the genealogy of Jesus? It seems like it’s just a list of names and a waste of a chapter in the Bible. But a closer study of this list of people reveals a concept hidden beneath it all that would be very easy to overlook if you’re not careful.
Here is the genealogy of Jesus that Matthew records in chapter 1:
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:1-17 ESV)
The people that make up the genealogy of Jesus were not perfect. They all were human. They all fell short. They all messed up. For example, Abraham was an idol worshipper, Jacob was a deceiver, Judah was an adulterer, Rahab was a prostitute, and David was a murderer. Not really the cast of characters you would choose when picking out the lineage for the Messiah.
But God chose them anyway. Why? I believe it was to prove the point that your past doesn’t predict your future. As Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church, said “God reached into the mess and pulled out a Messiah.” God can reach into your mess and pull out a miracle. God can reach into your past and pull out a promise. God can reach into your failures and pull out a future. Perry Noble also said “Jesus is the only one that took a blood stained cross and turned it into an empty tomb.”
Paul told us in Romans 8:28 that God will make all things good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. I don’t care what you’ve done in the past, what mistakes you have made, how many times you have failed; God can turn it around. Believe that God will give you beauty for your ashes and a robe of righteousness for your rags.