Q: How do you get the best Christmas?
A: With an excellent Christmas list.
“Like this David?
- A list of food to be bought.
- A list of parties to go to.
- A list of presents you want.
- A list of presents your kids want.
- A list of Hallmark Channel movies to watch.
- A list of Christmas shows to watch.
Is that the kind of list required for the #BestChristmasEver?”
No. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Those things are fine and fun and nothing wrong with any of them. But not one of them is essential for the Best Christmas Ever. In fact, for most of the last 2000 years, Christians all over the world have worshiped without any of those things!
I think there’s a better Christmas list. It’s found at the beginning of Matthew. It’s the genealogy of Jesus. “Yawn,” right? The word “genealogy” does not excite me at all.
What if I told you that:
- It’s the “family of Jesus list,” and
- It has the grandpa and great grandpa and great great grandpa of Jesus, and
- A bunch of the folks in His family are reprobates?
Would that make it more interesting? Because that’s the real deal. In the list of Jesus’ family (Jesus who is perfect, sinless, wholly God and wholly man), there is:
- Ruth – a descendent of incest – the Moabites are descendants of Lot and HIS DAUGHTER- (all caps because I am yelling in horror) “having relations” (Gen. 19:33).
- Tamar – who dressed up as a prostitute so that her father-in-law would GET HER PREGNANT (all caps-yelling again) because her husband died before they could have children.
- Judah – who unknowingly had sex with his daughter-in-law because HE WAS HAVING SEX WITH A PROSTITUTE (all caps again-so much to yell about)!
- Rahab – who WAS a prostitute.
- Jechoniah – was so horrible that God actually cursed him.
Not exactly what you’d expect if you’re thinking, “family of Jesus.”
Imagine Tamar’s kid – first day of first grade:
Kid sitting next to Tamar’s son: Who’s your mom?
Tamar’s son: Tamar.
Kid sitting next to Tamar’s son: Tamar??? REALLY?? The one who had sex WITH YOUR GRANDPA??????
But there they are. Right in the family of Jesus. Complete moral disasters. He’s got major league outcasts in His earthly family.
Matthew is the writer. Also an outcast. And rightly so. He was a Jew and a crooked tax collector who took money from his fellow Jews, for their enemy the Romans. Matthew was a traitor before he started following Jesus. Everybody hated the tax collector.
And I have to wonder, (pure speculation on my part) maybe Matthew’s thinking about being an outcast as he’s carried along by the Holy Spirit writing this…
Matthew: “I’m going to air some of my people’s dirty laundry right here at the beginning – to set the stage for the rest of the story.
Because when folks hear about the woman caught in adultery being saved and Zacchaeus the crooked being saved, and the thief on the cross being saved, that’s going to cause some self-righteous heads to spin.
So let’s be clear dear reader – Jesus has outcasts in His earthly family and they are right here in this geneology!”
Praise God He has outcasts in His family. Because we are all outcasts. All Every one of us.
Jesus died to wash the outcast clean, and bring her or him into His family.
Maybe you’ve felt like an outcast before. Left out. Left over. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Maybe you have some secrets in your past, or in your family history and you think, “If people only knew the real story – they wouldn’t want anything to do with me!”
No no no. Jesus is Lord of the outcast.
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NLT)
In Christ, you’re no longer on the outside. In Christ, you’re on the inside.
Christmas means no matter what your situation, background, secrets, or history – Christmas means through Jesus, you are included in God’s great family. Not as a black sheep, not as an unwanted child. But as a man or woman deeply loved by Jesus.
You. Are. Included.
Amen and amen. And Merry Christmas!
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