Faithlife Sermons

The Family of Jesus

Carols 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The family Jesus comes from shows us the family that Jesus has come for.

Good evening everyone! My name is Kyle, and it’s a real pleasure to be speaking to you at our annual Christmas Carols Service. Now, Christmas is a special time of the year for a number of reasons: in Cape Town, we often enjoy beautiful weather, people are starting to get some time off from work, hopefully there’s some quite nice food to be eaten, and, for Christians, Christmas is an opportunity to reflect afresh on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whether you are a Christian or subscribe to a different faith, or are secular or agnostic in your beliefs, I think we can all agree that one of the things that makes Christmas time special is family. It might be at this time of year that you get to see family members that you haven’t seen in a long time. Perhaps you’re actually visiting Cape Town in order to see family, or perhaps you’re about to go off and visit family. Christmas time is family time, it’s one of the things that makes Christmas great! And yet…if we’re honest, family time can also be what makes Christmas hard. This might be because of how much you miss family members at this time of year—perhaps you’ve suffered the loss of a family member, or perhaps your family is far away, or perhaps your family (for relational reasons) can’t come together peacefully. It sometimes feels that any preexisting problems in a family are magnified at Christmas time! Any preexisting conditions will get highlighted ; the flaws will all be exposed at Christmas time. And so it can be discouraging and frustrating as we are reminded, perhaps painfully so, at how imperfect (and perhaps even dysfunctional) some aspects of our family life are. But if you come from an imperfect family, a family with problems, a dysfunctional family, then you are in good company. Because Jesus did, too!
If you have a Bible, will you please turn with me to the Gospel of Matthew, and chapter 1. Now Matthew begins his gospel with a list of who was in the family line of Jesus. Technically, this was known as a genealogy, and was very common in Ancient Israel. What is uncommon, what is surprising, is the way Matthew puts this family list together. Take a look at it with me. Read 1-2, 6-7, 11-12, 16-17.

Notice the structure of the family list

Verse 17 says that there were three sets of fourteen generations from Abraham to Jesus. Seems a bit too tidy! Well, it’s because Matthew is not being exhaustive but selective—he’s not including all of Jesus’ forebears—in order to make a specific point. And that point is seen in both verse 1 and verse 17: Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of Abraham, the promised King descended from David.
Now, in order to understand how amazing this claim is, we need to understand the promise to Abraham. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we see how humanity rebelled against God. We fell under God’s judgement and were separated from relationship with Him. But just when things look utterly hopeless, God makes a promise to Abraham—a promise of blessing. God promises that through Abraham’s descendants, blessing will come to the whole world. As the Bible story unfolds, we start to wonder which descendant will usher in this blessing. And we start to realise that it is probably going to be a King, and when King David appears, we think it’s definitely him. That’s because David was something of a spiritual superstar—a warrior-poet who loved God. But God said to David, in , that David would have a descendant who would be the true King—Great David would have a descendant, and that guy would be the King who would usher in global blessing. So by showing us this family list, Matthew is proving to us that Jesus is legit. That Jesus really is the promised King, descended from David, who will bring God’s blessing of salvation to all the world. Jesus really is the Saviour. That’s why it’s structured the way it is. But in addition to the structure, also notice the contents—who is actually in the list! Because this shows us what kind of Saviour Jesus is.

Notice the people in the family list

In a patriarchal society, it is striking that Matthew mentions four women. Jewish men, in the culture of the day, often kept women to the margins of activity. Women were excluded from lots of activity; they would have been gender outsiders. But Matthew’s genealogy is striking because of the presence of women--showing us that Jesus’s family is inclusive.
But it gets even more scandalous. Because the women that are included are not simply gender outsiders—they’re considered outsiders in other ways as well. They would be considered moral outsiders—take Tamar and Rahab, for example. Now, because this is a family service, I cant actually repeat what these women did but if you do the research you will discover that they were not exactly girl scouts. But Jesus’ family also includes those that feel on the outside ethnically, seen in the inclusion of Ruth—who was a Moabitess (someone who was not naturally part of the nation of Israel). Although every other community might reject people like this, these outsiders all find their place in the family of Jesus. Gender outsiders, moral outsiders, ethnic outsiders: this is who is in the family. People that you would least expect are in the family of Jesus.
Also, when we finally do get to some people that we think must have some spiritual pedigree, we get another shock. Take a look at verse 6 (read).
Matthew 1:6 NIV
and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Matthew 1:6–7 NIV
and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
Why doesn't Matthew just say that Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba? Well, it’s because Matthew wants to draw attention to the fact that King David committed adultery with one of his best friend’s wives before murdering him. You see, King David, for all his greatness, did some terrible things. He was an adulterer. He was a murderer. And in Jesus’ family list, Matthew wants to remind everyone of just how much of a spiritual and moral failure King David really was.
Matthew 16
Why? Because Matthew is making a very important point. The family of Jesus is made up of outsiders and failures. Jesus comes from a messed up, dysfunctional family. And the family Jesus comes from shows us the family that Jesus has come for. If Jesus’s family is full of outcasts and failures, then it means that you and me should feel right at home.
And this gets seen as you read through the rest of Matthew’s Gospel. Who are the people that respond to Jesus’ invitation? The outsiders: the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the Romans (who were considered ethnic outsiders), the sinners. The people we least expect. The people who seem like the most unlikely; the outsiders.
Matthew 9:13 NIV
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Consider the invitation to join the family

Notice the invitation to join the family

Anyone and everyone is invited to join the family of Jesus. How do I know? Because of how Matthew ends his Gospel!
Matthew 28:18–20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus asked his helpers, his followers, to go and recruit more people to join his family. The invitation goes out to anyone, to everyone.
But how? How is it possible for a holy God, and an absolutely pure Saviour, to have such deep relationships with imperfect sinners like us? Matthew tells us: in chapter 27 of his gospel account, Matthew describes Jesus’ crucifixion. When he was on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He was crying out to His heavenly Father, who turned away from His Son. Jesus was excluded from the Father’s embrace, that we might be included. Jesus was forsaken, that we might be accepted, and Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven. The reason that we are able to enter the family of God, as forgiven sinners, is because Jesus took our place, took our punishment. We don’t earn our way into God’s family; because of Jesus, though, we can all be adopted. We can all be brought in.
I want to extend that invitation to you tonight: are you in Jesus’ family? Have you repented from your autonomy and chosen to make Jesus the leader of your life? Have you relied on his perfect obedience to get you into His family?
Let me close with two applications.
Firstly, if you are with us and you are not a Christian, can I invite you to consider joining Jesus’ family? I want to extend that invitation to you tonight: are you in Jesus’ family? Have you repented from your autonomy and chosen to make Jesus the leader of your life? Have you relied on his perfect obedience to get you into His family? You might think: I’m not good enough! I’m too messed up! I have too many issues and problems and sins and flaws! That’s the point: no-one is good enough, we get adopted into His family by grace through faith.
Secondly, if you are a Christian, think about what it means to be in Jesus’ family. Jesus comes from a messed up family, and he comes for a messed up family. The people in Jesus’ family are not perfect—they are forgiven sinners. We are flawed, we are weak, we are immature. So when people in church do sinful or stupid things, we need to keep each other accountable, but we also need to remember that this family is for messed up, imperfect people. So we need to be patient with one another, we need to bear with one another, we need to show each other the grace that the Lord Jesus has shown us.
I don’t know what your particular family situation is. Maybe it’s wonderful and easy. But more likely it’s mixed, with good and bad. Maybe it’s all bad. But whatever our human family is like, Jesus invites us to join His family. He gave everything so that we could be family with Him. This Christmas season, won’t you consider afresh His invitation to you?
Let’s pray.
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