The Whole Family

Read: Matthew 1:1-17

. . . and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. (v. 16)

Writers, public speakers, and preachers all know that you only have one shot at catching the attention of the reader or listener. Spending extra effort to make your opening few sentences enticing pays off once you hook your audience. But on that score, Matthew appears to have earned the grade of F. Is a family tree all that interesting as an opening? It does not seem like an invitation to keep reading. Just skip ahead to verse 18 where the real story begins!

But Matthew knew exactly what he was doing. He needed to establish two things right off the bat: first, Jesus is the Messiah that Israel had long looked for. Second, this Messiah was coming to expand the definition of who would be included in the people of God.

Matthew referred to four women: Tamar, Bathsheba, Rahab, and Ruth. Each was a foreigner in Israel. And several of them had scandalous elements attached to their stories. These were the skeletons in Jesus’ family closet. But Matthew included them to convey that the new Israel was going to include everyone. No one would be excluded.

At the very end of it all comes a holy irregularity. Joseph is listed but not as Jesus’ father but only as Mary’s husband. The child Mary bore had divine origins as it turns out. These details are highly intriguing after all. Let’s keep reading to find out more! —Scott Hoezee

As you pray, thank God for the broad reach of his salvation.

About the Author

Scott Hoezee is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He served two Michigan congregations from 1990-2005 and since 2005 has been a faculty member at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he serves chiefly as the Director of The Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of several books, including most recently Why We Listen to Sermons (Calvin Press 2019) and is the co-host of the “Groundwork” radio program.

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