Beauty From The Ashes
Before we start, I thought it’d be fun to take part in a brief Christmas Quiz - Before I share the questions or the answers, I want to say that I did not do well on this when I first took it several years ago. So do not be afraid of wrong answers.
Joseph was originally from...
E. None of the above.
3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
What does the Bible say that the innkeeper said to Mary & Joseph?
A. “There is no room in the inn”
B. “I have a stable you can use.”
C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
D. Both A and B
E. None of the above.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
We are never told what conversation might have taken place between the innkeeper and Joseph or Mary.
Who saw the star in the east?
B. Mary and Joseph
C. Three Kings
D. Both A and C
E. None of the above.
Okay, this is a “trick” question.
The “magi” saw the star, however the Bible doesn’t say how many there were and they were not kings but astronomers.
Many people assume there were three gifts. However, in ancient times these men usually travelled in caravans of ten to twelve along with a full entourage of protection.
Okay, While we’re on the Magi or Wisemen,
Where did the wise men find Jesus?
A. In a manger
B. In a stable
C. In Nazareth
D. In Saudi Arabia
E. In a house
F. None of the above
We often compact the Christmas story. The Shepherds found Jesus (see ), he was a babe in a manger. The greek word used in is for a “newborn baby”. However, by the time the Magi appeared, Jesus had been moved from the manger to a house. and the Greek word used by Matthew is for a “toddler” or “young child.”
11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
He was likely 12-24 months old, since Herod in his anger has all the male children two years and under killed in Bethlehem and all that region after the Magi left.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
Beauty from the Ashes
Beauty from the Ashes
For the past 3 weeks we’ve been diving into unusual Christmas texts, today’s is not really that unusual…at least not for us…but it really is unusual if you think about what you might share if you were to proclaim your heritage.
In magazines, on the radio, and on television, I’ve been hearing ads for various DNA tests that we can take to find our ancestry. We can find out where we came from, what our cultural heritage is, and (depending on the service you use) to whom in history and even in present day we may count as our relatives.
Back in the late 70’s Alex Haley’s book Roots became an ABC miniseries that was all but required watching for young students in school. The book and mini-series follows the oral tradition of his family from a young man named Kunta Kinte from Africa to America.
The book instilled in many americans the desire to know their family history and what kind of people they came from. In our upwardly mobile culture where extended families seldom remain in the same neighborhood this remains a desire.
In we see Jesus’ family history. Let’s read it:
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
The Gospel’s opening words are really very significant to a Jewish audience, because their ancestry is so deeply intertwined with the covenants God made with Israel. If you were here last week we discussed the covenant made with David.
Jesus name itself is the Greek translation of his Hebrew name. Yeshua or Yehoshua (from which we get Joshua) in Hebrew literally means “Yahweh Saves”.
Christ (Christos in Greek, from the Hebrew mashiakh, “annointed”) refers back to David as the anointed king of Israel. Messiah - meant much to the people of the OT and to Matthew’s readers. The term came to sum up several different expectations that are created throughout the Old Testament in regards to the promise of an anointed one, who would “righteously rule God’s people” (Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1820). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.”)
righteously rule God’s people
Son of David evokes similar images because of the lineage back to the royal line, and the idea that he would reestablish the Davidic Covenant.
Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1820). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.”
Son of Abraham - connects him back to the Abrahamic covenant.
Also note the women that are shown in Jesus’ lineage:
3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,
Rahab and Ruth
5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,
Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah?)
6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,
and finally, Mary
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
In jewish tradition, a very patriarchal culture, it was not typical to trace your lineage through the matriarchs. It was also not typical to share the “bad” people in your lineage. Yet Matthew includes both.
Jesus lineage as depicted here is comprised of men, women, adulterers, prostitutes, heroes, and Gentiles.
It even includes people who “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Jechoniah.
In our tradition we too want people to know all the good people we are related to. Royalty, heroes, people of fame, not infamy.
What is the point of recalling such a sordid past as Matthew shares with us in Jesus’ genealogy? Probably to remind his readers, including you and I, of God’s power to work beauty from ashes, to bring redemption from a family — and to a family — that desperately needs it.
All of our stories can be rewritten in Jesus, for he would be — he is — the Savior of all.
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”