After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
– Matthew 1:12-16
At first glance? A list of unpronounceable names. Easy to breeze past. Quickly scanned and forgotten.
… but let’s slow down a minute.
In my early days of Bible reading I did just that. I acknowledge genealogies and then quickly moved on to more interesting details. In my early days of preaching I was forced to give them a second thought. Now that I’ve earned my stripes as a preacher I know the value of giving deeper reflection upon the genealogies.
I no longer see the opening of Matthew’s Gospel as a list of names. Rather, I see it as a history of God moving in the lives of people. Real people. Like you and me.
As Calvin Miller puts it, “These begat passages are not just names. They are footprints of a timeless God walking through generations, until His tread is reduced to the bare foot of the little baby whom Mary held in her arms.”
What a beautiful sentiment. What a ground breaking reality.
Genealogies show God’s faithfulness spiraled down from generation to generation, family to family, sinner to sinner. Is God faithful to a sinner like me? These lists of begats prove it to be true.
(Calvin Miller quote comes from The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent)