Published on February 6th, 2020 | by Stephen Barrington0
Jesus and Genealogies, Matthew 1:18-24. December 18, 2019 by Buckshot
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou; nga mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa. Deep love and Greetings to you all again, today our gospel is Matthew 1:18-24. We are three-quarters of the way through advent now, the birth of Jesus is fast approaching…
Our text today really begins with yesterday’s text, the list of the whakapapa (genealogy) of Jesus in verses 1-17 of this chapter. A lot of us will skip over these monotonous verses – this bloke fathered that son, he fathered the next one and so it goes on seemingly forever. In our fair land gynecology is really important and at formal occasions, speakers will begin their oratory with that long list of names and significant places that define who they are. They will say this is my mountain, this is my river, this is my canoe/boat, this is my Father’s significant ancestor, my Mother’s significant ancestor, these are my relations, this is a prominent saying of my tribe and lastly they may say their name. But their name is not important because it is all that has gone before that makes us who we are and fills our name with meaning and significance.
So Jesus, this freaky baby being born to a teenage mum with God for his actual Father, in this sense embodies all that has gone before him in that long list. Abraham the Patriarch, King David, the exile in Babylon, the exodus from Egypt and all the significant events of Jewish history to that point are waiting to come alive as Jesus waits to be born.
St Paul who wrote so much of our new testament, and also our gospel writers, recognised this fact after Jesus was executed and came back to life. This man they suddenly realised was God in the flesh, and he achieved all the things that Israel the nation was meant to do and be, but couldn’t be and do. So in a very real sense that genealogy introduces and explains who Jesus will become.
To fulfill all those hopes of the Old Testament prophets and dreamers he needed to be born in this fantastic and mystical way with a manual labourer for a dad and an unwed peasant for a mother. For “god to be with us”, Immanuel, he couldn’t be born into privilege – this would have denied the real history of slavery in Egypt, bondage in Babylon that God had promised they would be saved from. So into the line of David and Abraham, this baby who would ‘save us’ and be God in the flesh with skin like us was born to these unlikely and unprepared parents.
Joseph, like Mary in other parts of the story, takes a risk and believes the angels message in his dream. He turns away from fear of what others may think and embraces this journey, this un-looked for blessing!
Today and this week as we prepare to celebrate the mystery and wonder of this birth we are well aware of the story, and the outcome. We have chosen to align ourselves with the extravagant love of God that comes right to us, right to our face, to share our breath and enter our deepest being. Immanuel, God with us, Jesus ‘the one who saves’ because he embodies all the hopes of his people before him.
As we align ourselves with this story, as we graft ourselves to it and embrace Jesus as the most significant of our ancestors we become part of the story of liberation, grace, justice, forgiveness and welcome, love and hope that God has been working out for all time through the creation and his created people.
With Jesus and this story now part of our whakapapa, our genealogy, we are becoming all that we can be. His touch, embrace and recognition of our pain and struggle will ‘save us’ from all that holds us back and liberate us to love life in all its facets and frailty.
As we remember this most amazing of births, this life-giving and hope-filled event may we be born again into that same hope and love.
God richly bless you, love you and set you free this Christmas week.
Buckshot – Wellington chapter, New Zealand