Passage: Matthew 1:1-17
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Advent – Our Hearts, Christ’s Home
At Home In Our Story
The season of Advent follows a flurry of consumption. Thanksgiving precedes the first Sunday of Advent where we consume too much good food to satisfy our appetites. Black Friday follows Thanksgiving where we are tempted to consume too much stuff to satisfy our desire to “save” money. Yet Thanksgiving can leave us with a stomach ache, and Black Friday leaves us with buyer’s resource. Advent, however, reshapes our longings. Our longings for and preoccupation with food and stuff are glimmers and hints of a deeper ache in our heart for something more. We begin this season of Advent with “the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ” (Matt 1:1), spelling out the family of Jesus Christ. In it we feel the longings of his people for generations, and through their story we reshape our longings with God’s promise despite our failure to yearn for his coming with hope.
First we reshape our longings with God’s promise (Matt 1:1–6). The first section of the genealogy begins with Abraham to whom the promise was given. He was promised offspring “like the sand on the seashore” (Gen 22:17), yet his wife was barren. He was promised all the land that he could see (Gen 13:15), yet he lived as a sojourner (Gen 19:9). Yet God’s promise endures the lying of Jacob, the sibling rivalry of Judah, the sexual compromise of Tamar, the prostitution of Rahab, the destitution of Ruth, and the neglect of David. These generations from Abraham to David highlight how God’s promise endures despite setbacks and challenges. And Jesus fulfills these promises so that our longings can be reshaped by his promise.
We reshape our longings with God’s promise despite our failure (Matt 1:7–11). While David is crowned king and given incredible promises, the story of his kingdom is a story of repeated failure — his son Solomon was conceived with the wife of murdered Uriah, Rehoboam’s sin led to the division of the kingdom, Ahaz was marked by compromise, and eventually their sin leads to “the deportation to Babylon” (Matt 1:11). Yet though exile marks the era of these kings, God’s promise endures. And failure is not the end of the story. Why?
We reshape our longings with God’s promise despite our failure to yearn for his coming with hope (Matt 1:12–16). Exile is not the end of the story; we still have the story of Shealtiel and Zerrubabel who began to rebuild after the rubble of the exile. We have generations of the “unknown”, culminating with the young man Joseph and overlooked virgin. The names in this section of the genealogy are largely unknown, yet they are yearning for the coming of a Messiah. God’s promise endures despite their failures. And through these small people a baby is born, Jesus, who is the Christ. Similarly we yearn with longing for Jesus’ coming in Advent — not as a baby in a manger but as a King in power. We may be nobodies without a big name who have failed, but we still yearn for his coming with hope. He will come again.
This passage begins, ‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.” Typically genealogies are of the head of a family; we would expect this to be the genealogy of Abraham. Yet this is the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ because he is the head of a new family. And we can be included in that family through faith in him. So in a time of year when our longings are frustrated with stomach aches or buyer’s remorse, we can reshape our longings with God’s promise despite our failure to yearn for his coming with hope.