When my mom was most active in researching her ancestry my husband said he thought his paternal grandfather must have been an outlaw of some sort. He knew his grandfather’s name but had never heard stories about the man. None. Not a single one. Which led my beloved to believe his father’s father was best forgotten. Mom took it as a challenge. Now we know grandpa probably ran a dairy in Oklahoma City and likely came from a family with a long history in Pennsylvania.
I wonder if Jesus heard stories about his grandparents. Surely he didn’t know all those names recorded in Matthew 1:2-17 and Luke 3:23-38. Fourteen generations times three in Matthew (see Matthew 1:17); a somewhat longer list in Luke. The lists agree – mostly – for the generations from Father Abraham to the great King David. After that, not much at all; from the name of David’s son in Jesus’ direct lineage to the name of Jesus’ grandfather (aka Joseph’s dad) the lists are quite different.
Does it matter? Does it matter that there is a Zerubbable in one list and a Zadok is in the other? I don’t think so. Do we need to get them to line up – to harmonize them? Definitely not. The authors had their own agendas.*
Jesus is the son of David, the famous though flawed, best and beloved of Israel’s kings. Things had definitely gone downhill since his rule. As the book of Matthew begins, there’s a hint and a hope that Jesus, as part of that royal lineage, will bring about all that a kingdom is to be.
Jesus is also son of Abraham. (Sing along if you know it: “Father Abraham had many sons…”.) The first thing I remember about Abraham is that he was blessed to be a blessing (see Genesis 12:1-3) Think about that for a moment. Blessed to be a blessing. Jesus, too, was blessed to be a blessing.
Have you counted your blessings lately? The people that bring (or have brought) hope, love and joy into your life. The big things we cannot live without – like breath and water. The mundane but necessary – food, clothing, and shelter. The little things that we too often take for granted.
How might you be a blessing today? It could be something simple, perhaps eye contact and a smile to everyone you pass by. It could cost a little or a lot, say a few dollars in a Salvation Army Red Kettle or generous check written to your favorite non-profit charity. It might be a gift of time spent with one who is lonely or a hand-written note sent through the old-fashioned mail. I hope you’ll use your imagination and act with kindness.
We are blessed. And we are called to bless others.
Until next time, Teressa
p.s. I was going to say something about the fact Luke’s genealogy ends with “[Jesus was] son of Adam, son of God.” But that felt like a sermon. And I wanted to stay with the idea of blessing.
*I’ll tell you some of what comes to mind from my seminary days as well as sermon and Bible study prep over the years. I could pull out the commentaries, do a little reading, and write about each author’s purpose. But I’m not that interested – at least not today.
If you are interested, I recommend The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004). It’s accessible, solid scholarship on the New Testament in one volume for those who want to know more but don’t want an entire library of commentaries.