I am thinking about the passage on Jesus’s genealogy: Why did Matthew bother to put down the details of Jesus’s ancestors? What purpose does the account of Jesus’s genealogy serve? Most of us would care less about knowing all the names of Jesus’s ancestors. I would rather skip the entire passage and move to the more narrative section about his life. I was going to skip first and go directly to Jesus’s birth. Then I thought to myself: There are vocabularies you can learn. However, upon more reflection, I realized that it is not just the vocabularies you can learn. The account of Jesus’s genealogy is important: It points to a very important fact about Jesus. Do you know what it is?
Jesus is a son of man, a descendant of Adam, Eve, Abraham, David, Boas, Ruth, Jacob, Joseph, and Mary. He is the king who would reign from the seed of Abraham and David as prophesied in the Old Testament （e.g., Genesis 21:12, Jeremiah 23:5). Although Jesus was the son of man, a descendant of a human race, he is unlike us who are short of the glory of God. Unlike us, Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit (He was sent by the father in Heaven). Jesus’ genealogy was traced through his patrilineage. Although few keep such a complete genealogy as we can find in Jesus’s genealogy, we are also an offspring of our ancestors. Our ancestors can be traced back all the way to the beginning of life on earth. According to the bible, it went all the way back to the day God created the first Man Adam and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. “The Lord god formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2: 7). Yes, God is our creator; we are His wonderful design. But over time, we became alienated from our creator. It began with our first ancestors’ desire to be like God. Tempted by the promise of the ancient serpent, “when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3: 5), Eve ate what God told her not to, and she even enticed Adam to rebel against God’s will along with her. Ever since the beginning, the ancient serpent (devil) has always tried to find opportune time to tempt us. Unless we are with God, we fall easy pray to his evil schemes. We kept drifted apart from God who created us…further and further away; many live an independent life of quiet desperation. We go after what we see is appealing in our eyes: an apple, a red apple, a redder apple, a bigger apple… Even if we get what we want in life, our hunger is never filled and our thirst is never quenched. Jesus, even though he is a son of man, is different from us. Jesus only wanted what his father in heaven desired. Before his impending crucifixion, he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done“ (Luke 22: 42). He was the only man of perfection that ever lived. Even though, like us, he was a son of man–of flesh and blood, he never faltered like us when faced with big temptations on earth. He triumphed over evil and even death, because he is also the Son of God and God himself.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3：16-17). God sent His beloved son here on earth to save us from our sins. Through Him, we find our way back to our father in heaven. He is the only son of man without any blemishes. He is the Word, who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only. who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). And “the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1: 1-2).
Do you believe that Jesus is a real person like you and me? A person who had lived on earth about two thousand years ago? When we read about his life on earth, we are not reading about a fictitious figure in a make-believe story. What we are about to learn here in the gospel according to Matthew and other gospels are about Jesus’ life–his word, the miracles he had performed, and his death and resurrection–based on eyewitnesses’ accounts. No matter which stage of our faith journey is, we have to constantly remind ourselves that Jesus really came down on earth as son of man for us. He went through all the temptations, mental anguish and physical pains. His greatness lies not only in his divinity but his humanness. He truly understands us because He has come down on earth and experienced what we have experienced. I was not sure if God could be as compassionate, had he not had the experience to go through what he had gone through as a son of man. Perhaps, regardless, since he is all-knowing, all merciful God. I am speaking for myself in human terms. I know that I am more compassionate about certain things because I have lived through them. These are the things that made me more humane and more understanding.
The genealogy of Jesus is revealing about the authenticity of Jesus’s life on earth, his humanness as son of man. He is a perfect man and perfect God in One. Through Him, we see what our father in heaven is like. As Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). “Through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:20). Jesus’s birth into a human family, his life on earth, his crucifixion, and resurrection are God’s grace and love for us.
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