The Rev. Leonard Browning: Reason for the season
December 10, 2010
Editor's note: The following religion column originally appeared in the Dec. 21, 2007 edition of the Craig Daily Press.
I love Christmas.
I do get frustrated and at times bogged down in the rush of the season and the ease of diverted attention from the "reason for the season," but I still love this time of year.
The giving and receiving of gifts, lights and laughter, pastries and parties, songs and the story; God becoming fully human and choosing to do so in the way He did still amazes me.
The Christmas story is the intersection of God and human history at a baby. A child conceived by the Holy Spirit destined to live a sinless life and ultimately reconcile mankind to God through his death and resurrection. It's a story of wonder and love in the incarnation — God with us — Immanuel.
The story includes the record of the genealogy of Jesus. Matthew and Luke record for us similar but different paths from Abraham to Jesus.
Most scholars believe that the genealogy which Luke traces from Adam to Jesus is the lineage of Jesus' mother Mary.
This lineage focuses on Jesus' relation to the whole human race and qualifies Him as a legal representative of the human race.
The genealogy given in Matthew is generally accepted as Jesus' earthly father, Joseph's lineage from Abraham to Jesus. It proves Jesus was born as one who could be a legal King of the Jews — a son of David, son of Abraham.
Matthew's account shows Jesus descending from a line of heinous ancestors. To get from Judah to David, you have to go through Perez, a son born from the union of Judah and his daughter-in-law, Tamar.
To get from David to Joseph (Jesus earthly father) you have to continue the lineage through Solomon, David's second son born after his affair with Bathsheba, whom David stole from (and subsequently conspired to kill) the honorable Uriah.
God has shown his sovereignty over and over again throughout the Old Testament record. God alters time, circumstances and events routinely.
Why would God allow his son's blood line to include the aforementioned scoundrels?
Interestingly, four women are mentioned in Joseph's line: Tamar (Judah's daughter-in-law and mother of his child), Rahab (an alien and prostitute), Ruth (an alien) and Bathsheba (an adulteress). Why would God choose to include four women with less than perfect life situations in the path of His Son Jesus?
I think the message in the genealogy of Jesus is that this is a representative human family. Your family line, my family line or Joseph's, it doesn't matter.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Jesus, the man, stressed that we are all murderers and adulterers (the Sermon on the Mount). The point is, when the filth of all that is mankind is joined with the Holy Spirit of God, Jesus is the result.
Christmas is the beginning of the story — the opportunity for my spirit to be joined with his Spirit, making God my "daddy."
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Because of Jesus, I can turn from my sin and self-centered nature and receive new life in Him.
I love Christmas.