Let us be honest here. If we were given a chance to write a gospel account of Jesus Christ, we might never have started off with His genealogy. One of the difficulties that beginners who read the Gospel of Matthew face is this long list of names at the beginning itself. Wouldn’t this turn away interested readers? On such lines our thoughts move on.
But aren’t those doubts good enough to make us think again? Why? Yes, why would God ever want His Gospel to begin in this fashion?
As we look at it closely, we find a grand design emerge. It took centuries. It blended together many scattered fragments. All of these pieces were interwoven into a beautiful mosaic. In effect, the genealogy of Jesus Christ unveils before our eyes this huge canvas in which is drawn God’s grand design.
This grand design was worked out through men. It started with the call of Abraham. From him started the Jewish race. And in the list of succession of names we find people of different temperaments, strengths and weaknesses. We find godly people, foreigners, women, and practically unknown personalities too in it. All this wide variety now forms a long line of colored beads in a string.
At the end of it we find the loveliest of all; Jesus!
But the question remains. Why a long list of names? The answer is simple. It shows God’s careful eye on people and events. He works out His plan with great patience. There are blemishes in the lives of many of the people mentioned here. Yet He in great grace and immeasurable mercy blended it all together into His grand design. The reason is that He, being the Artist He is, always had the bigger picture in mind.
The point is that we as humans may not understand everything that happens in our lives. Yet we may find strength in the thought that God has the bigger picture in mind. That doesn’t mean that whatever happens to us is of no concern to Him. It does not mean He only has the bigger picture in mind. No! The truth is that He blends together our lives into His bigger picture.
Here, the great comfort we can have is the thought that He has His own ways of making up for our failures in life. Many times our failures discourage us from moving forward in life. In this list of names there are many who failed God at some crossroad in their lives. Yet God has included their names here. It tells us of the grace of God; now even available to us. This grace means that God’s mercy is able to make good what we have marred. No other artist can do that.
This grace of God came to us through Jesus Christ. He came to us, “full of grace and truth.” And John says: “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16 NIV).
And isn’t it great that this genealogy ends with Jesus Christ? Why? Because He is the fullness of God’s grace towards us. If God showed grace to those people before Jesus came, how much more grace will He show us in Jesus Christ. The long list of names tells us two things: One, He is interested in us and two, He makes His grace work on our behalf to blend even our failures into His bigger picture.
Therefore, let this Christmas be a meditation on Jesus, who came to us, full of grace!