The past few weeks we’ve been learning how God used all types of people in the lineage of Jesus to bring Him into the world through His birth. We saw how God used unknowns as well as wealthy people. As God blessed Israel, He used kings and privileged people. However, when the line of Jesus became enslaved by foreign nations, the line became filled with people of ordinary means. This week we’re going to look at the last third of the list of names in Matthew 1. This specific list of names is filled with people who were exiles.
When you read the list you see names such as Jechoniah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abuid, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar and Matthan. These are names that sound very foreign and unfamiliar to the modern reader. They aren’t usually names that you name your children after! However, these were real people who existed in the nation of Israel through very difficult times.
These people were marginalized. They were forgotten. They were taken advantage of. They seemed insignificant to the world at the time. But God used them to bring about the Lord Jesus into the world.
God’s people, the people from whom Jesus would come, were exiled as refugees in a foreign land. As one reads the names a closer look reveals that they lost some of their Jewish identity. They were forced to take on the culture of Babylon and have their names changed. No longer were their names Jacob, David, Solomon, or Hezekiah. Their names became Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, and Abiud: names that literally meant that they loved the world and not God. They were an exiled and marginalized people.
But God still used exiled people to accomplish His will of sending Jesus to this earth. Then we come to verse 16: a man named Jacob (a strong Jewish name). By this time, Jacob lived under Roman rule, not Babylonian, and was able to keep his Jewish name. Jacob had a daughter named Mary. She was married to a man named Joseph. Mary was an ordinary woman who God chose by His grace to give birth to the Messiah King.
So we see that Jesus was descended directly not from Joseph but from Mary. Mary was Jacob’s daughter and Joseph his son-in-law. Because Jacob was not Jesus’ father: God was. God chose Mary to be the recipient of His grace to give birth to Jesus who had no earthly father – which is how He never “inherited” the sin “gene” that has destroyed the human race. Yes God works through the lives of exiles and outcasts to accomplish His will.
This genealogy underscores that Jesus is for all people: The ordinary, the rich and powerful, the outcasts. They need him. And He died for all. And God used all to bring Jesus to us. Which one of these people in Jesus’ line can you identify with? Praise God that He is patient. He is a God whom in the fullness of time sent his son Jesus to the earth so that He may rescue those who turn to Him from a life of sin and an eternity of death.
He still works His will today. His will for your life is that you give Him your all. He has given you so much; He has given you his Son. His son who came from as much of an ordinary family as yours. Do you think your family has problems? Read Jesus’ family tree. This Christmas, He desires you to turn to him now.