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  • Olivia Dear Thames

Advent: December 4

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

In the days of Jesus, your family tree was everything. Your lineage established your status in society and even your rights. In light of this, it isn't surprising that a genealogy is how the story of Jesus's birth begins in Matthew 1:1–17:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

What is a surprise about this family line are the characters that fill it.

Abraham and David may have had covenants with God, but sinful they were. Abraham denied his wife, claiming Sarah was his sister. He then slept with Hagar, his servant, to speed up the process to get a son. David committed adultery and orchestrated a murder to try to cover it up.

There was Jacob, who lied to his brother to snatch his birthright. There was Judah, who sold his brother. And there were women with questionable reputations (who we'll get to tomorrow, so don't unsubscribe just yet!).

The bloodline to the throne of all thrones wasn’t spotless. It was surprisingly full of sin and scandal and shame. It was tainted by generations of mistakes and failings. And out of this history, God brought us the Savior.

This embodies the ultimate redemption we find in Jesus. There is nothing He can't redeem: no bloodline, no family, no relationship, no story, no past, no circumstance, no mistake, no regret. Just look at how He redeemed His own ancestry. Dane Ortlund said, “But this is just how the Lord delights to work—taking the sidelined and the overlooked and giving them quietly pivotal roles in the unfolding of redemptive history.”

You may feel too sinful to be forgiven, but you are not. You may feel too lost to be found, but you aren't. We wouldn't need a Savior unless we needed saving. We wouldn't need a Redeemer unless we needed redeeming. We wouldn't need grace unless we were full of sin.

Saving and redeeming and grace are exactly what we all need, and that's what Jesus provides. In Him, there is forgiveness. There is freedom. There is hope that only a Redeemer could bring.

Out of all those stories of shame and regret came Jesus. Out of all the broken branches on that family tree came a new branch. Out of all those stains came One who would wash us white as snow.

The genealogy of Jesus hosted sinner after sinner, and today, He invites sinners like you and me to be part of this family tree, to be children of God. We don't have to be on time for church every Sunday and sitting in the front row to be part of this. We don't have to be Bible belt dwellers or Sunday School regulars to be His. We don't have to have perfect families and stainless pasts and spotless presents. Jesus invites every sinner to be a part of His redemption story.

Abraham needed a Savior. David needed a Savior. Jacob needed a Savior. Judah needed a Savior. You need a Savior. And I sure need a Savior.

Advent reminds us that our Savior has come. To redeem Abraham, David, Jacob, Judah, and you and me. To redeem our worst mistakes and our biggest regrets. To redeem our families and our relationships. To redeem what keeps us up at night. To redeem our career paths and our bank accounts. To redeem our shameful pasts and our messy presents.

Only Jesus could redeem a family line like that. Only Jesus can redeem sinners like us.

And our Redeemer has come.

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