I have to admit, it is very tempting to just skip most of the opening chapter of Matthew. After all who wants to waste time going through all of that "so and so begat so and so who begat so and so and so forth." Earlier in my faith I wondered why Matthew (or the Holy Spirit) would bother with all that genealogy anyway. It wasn't until I took the time to look deeper that it all began to make sense.
Ancestry.com is a private family tree tracing company with Morman roots (pun intended) that boasts over 12-million records, more than 2-million paying subscribers, and had nearly $400-million in revenue. Cable TV network TLC has a reality show called "Who Do You Think You Are?" that highlights celebrities finding out about their family histories and it averages 5 to 7-million viewers per episode. People are fascinated with genealogy, and it's no secret why.
Where we come from and our family histories can have powerful impacts on our lives. Blessings and curses can be passed on from one generation to the next. Every family has its share of of heroes and skeletons, some may be more well known than others.The more we learn the more we can appreciate who we are and how far we've come, to count our blessings and appreciate the obstacles overcome.
The genealogy of Matthew 1 is no different. It's a story full of heroes and goats, saints and sinners. From the con man Jacob to the harlot Rahab to the foreigner Ruth to the adulterous couple of David and Bathsheba, the family tree of Jesus certainly has its share of crooked branches--and that should be very encouraging to us. God saw fit to work with misfits and malcontents in order to bring his mercy, grace and love into the world. When Jesus entered that family tree he redeemed it and all the shortcomings found in it. That's what Jesus does. He reaches down into the ashes of our lives and makes something beautiful, more beautiful than what was there to begin with.
If you think about it, the genealogy of Matthew 1 sets up the rest of the Gospel, because from the very next scene in Bethlehem to the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, the whole mission of Jesus is found in the idea of redeeming all of us and our ancestries. He came to make us whole, to buy us back as our kinsmen redeemer, to make straight our crooked paths.