One thing that is consistent in the holidays for most of us is family. I see more family members during December than any other month. We have a tradition in our family that we all show up in my hometown on the night of the Christmas parade. Cousins come from Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and even Virginia or California. It is great fun. Some of these family members I know very well, some I barely know. However, we are family. Some of these family members look like me, act like me and think like me. Some do not. The holidays often have underlying joy and tension in dealing with family. I am sure some of you can relate.
Jesus Himself had quite an interesting family.
Today I want to take a peek at some of the unique individuals who made up the family tree of the Savior of the world. You would think that His family would be perfect. You would think that His family would be problem-free. You would think that His family would all get along and love each other and help each other and enjoy each other.
But the family line of Jesus was not unlike our own family lines and I want to take a look at a few of the individuals to see to whom we can relate.
Look at just a few of the Characters in the Sometimes-Dysfunctional-Family-Life of Jesus.
Tamar: had a child by her father-in-law
Rahab: was a Canaanite prostitute
Ruth: a Moabite foreigner who came to Boaz in the cover of night
Bathsheba: the wife of Uriah who engaged in adultery with David
Mary: conceived a child while only engaged to Joseph
The family history of Jesus was not clean, scandal-free, or uncomplicated. The people that God chose to bring about the reality of the Son of God, the Perfect Savior of the World, were not perfect themselves. The lineage that brought about the Redeemer, needed to be Redeemed. Somehow that is a comfort to my soul. Imperfection does not disqualify us from being used of God. Nothing in our past, no secret sin, no public scandal can keep us from the Redeeming Hand of the Lover of our Souls. But we must surrender to Him. We must believe that He IS able to keep us from falling. He IS able to make straight the crooked mess of our lives. The little baby born in a humble stable came to save us from ourselves.
For the next couple of days, we will take a closer look at some of the people who made up the family lineage of Jesus. But today, I want you to praise God for your family, not matter how complicated and complex they are. Today, know that our Redeemer lives.
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Job 19:25
When we were in China, I had a dear friend text me this verse: “God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.” Psalm 68:6. Though I had read this verse many times, it was so moving to read again as I held my newly adopted son. I could only smile as I thought of what awaited him when we returned to the States. What a fun, crazy, loud experience he was about to have. A big, imperfect family who loved him with all of their hearts. The orphanage, the loneliness, the neglect–all prisons of sorts–were behind him now. God had set him free. God had placed him in our family. And I was filled with joy. We can reach out to others and offer ourselves as family to them. We don’t have to be perfect. We just have to point them to the One who is.
You may have heard me tell this story before, but I remember it every Christmas.
I was 8 ½ years old when my brother, Martin, was born. I felt like he was my baby. I bathed, dressed, and fed him. I have always adored him.
I vividly remember that one Christmas, my dad wanted to give him a very, special present. He wanted to build him a tree house. He worked on it every night for weeks. He would go outside after Martin had gone to bed and begin the difficult work of measuring, sawing, nailing, and sanding. He very much wanted to keep the end result as a surprise, so each night he would tear down what he had built.
It was as if he were creating a giant puzzle. He would create the pieces, make sure they all fit together, then take it apart until the next day when he would create more pieces, make sure they all fit together, and then take it apart again. Over and over, night after night.
On Christmas Eve, he put all of the puzzle pieces in place, and then he put them together securely, one last time. And then he added one more thing: a very long string that tied to the tree house, traveled through the backyard, into the house, through the den, and attached on the other end to a wrapped gift. This gift was set aside from the others, waiting for the perfect time to reveal its surprise.
On Christmas morning, we all enjoyed the chaos of opening presents, oohing and aahing over what we had received. Finally, the time for the big reveal had come. This was the last present to be opened, and though it was not for me, it is the only one I remember from that Christmas.
I can still clearly see in my mind’s eye, Martin’s face as he began following the string. He was still in footie pajamas, and my mother had insisted that he add his big puffy coat on top. We all followed behind as he followed the string to the tree house. It was a little boy’s dream-come-true.
Sometimes there are seasons in our lives when we feel that we are being torn down over and over again. It is a long, painful process. But if we understand that God is our Everlasting Father, we will realize that each time we are torn down, He is using that as a puzzle piece in a great creation. We must trust Him as the Perfect Father, knowing that He will never allow anything to happen to us that can’t be worked for our good. He is creating a masterpiece out of the pieces of our lives. We must trust the love of our Everlasting Father.