Joy: Finding God's Way

The following is the transcript from the December 13, 2015
service 
at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa.

**Audio File now AVAILABLE - CLICK HERE **

I think each of us can remember a number of years ago when a man named Alex Haley produced a book and mini-series about his quest for finding his ancestors: Roots. All of America was thrilled to follow the story of Kunta Kinte. I think deep down inside we all have a quest to find out our heritage.

Some times people can find out embarrassing things about their ancestors. Sometimes too much searching will find thieves, mixed marriages, and other "skeletons in the closet." Many times as we look at our families, there can be a shame or embarrassment, but many times those same family members are the ones who can teach us the most about life, love, integrity, and serving God. Jesus was a man who knew his roots. We find here recorded for everyone to read the genealogy of Jesus. 

Let’s read it now. 
A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 
 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 
Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.
To be like Jesus means to accept our roots: to not be controlled by past failures, but to look at all that has happened in the past as preparation for future ministry.

The genealogy of Christ is given for several reasons: 
1. To show that he was human: Jesus was flesh and blood like you and me
2. To show he was the promised Messiah: he is the one destined to fulfill God’s plan
3. To show he is the Savior of the whole world, not just the Jews

We see that Jesus had a heritage that included those outside of the Jewish race. Tamar, the mother of Perez and Zerah, was probably a Canaanite. Rehab was from the city of Jericho. Ruth was a Moabitess. Bathsheba had been the wife of a Hittite.
Jesus is not limited in any way because he has a multi-ethnic heritage. If the truth were told, we all have a multitude of races represented in our blood. There are some groups that claim superiority because of their skin color or race, but the truth is that that is not a blessing or a curse. Far too often people try to excuse themselves on the basis of race. I think it is shameful when the country fails to bring justice because of how an ethnic group will respond to a courtroom verdict. We have grown into a nation that is driven by ethnic heritage. While we can take pride in our heritage, we need to accept and love one another regardless of skin color.

We also see that there were Black Sheep in the family tree - 
Tamar - played the part of a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law.
Rahab was a harlot who was saved by the spies
Ruth - a Moabitess - the nation of Moab came about because of incest of Lot and his daughters
Bathsheba - had an adulterous affair with King David - leading to the murder of Uriah her husband.
Then let’s not even go down the path of the kings mentioned, as many were very wicked - Rehoboam, Abijah, and Joram, just to name a few -- all were very wicked kings.
Jesus was not hindered in ministry because there were ungodly people in his past. Many times we resign ourselves to failure or insignificance because of sinful pasts or families. The truth of the matter is that each one of us determines for ourselves whether or not we will serve God. Do not blame your sinful habits on your parents or your youth. Each one of us has the choice today to serve God or live for self. Jesus was not limited because of a "checkered past."

Jesus also was not arrogant about how "upper-class" his family was. We see he was a direct descendant of the line of David. There are many kings in his lineage. Yet that is not a reason for boasting. Jesus grows up as a simple carpenter. He is a humble man. Far too many people want to demand certain treatment because of who they are related to. None of us has anything of which to boast. It does not matter how great our family. Our greatness is measured by what we do with our own life. 
So, we see in the family tree of Jesus, that we always are responsible for setting the course of our own life. God often uses our heritage, ancestry, and details of our past to prepare us for the ministry he has in store for us. Think about Moses, uniquely qualified to approach Pharaoh because he has been raised in Pharaoh’s household. So also Jesus was uniquely prepared to be the king to issue in a new kingdom. 

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 
"Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-- which means, "God with us." 

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Clearly Miraculous - there is no question in the birth of Christ that God is at work. Mary was not just a young woman, but is a virgin; something not possible by human means. For this birth to come about, God had to intervene. In Romans chapter 5 we talk about sin being passed to all through natural birth. Jesus had to be born "out of the ordinary" to be free from this natural, inborn sin.

Clearly Magnificent - the love of Joseph for Mary is amazing. She is pregnant before they were married. They were engaged: a formal oath to each other, and a testing period to prove their purity. During this time Mary becomes pregnant. Joseph is righteous: so he does not want to marry Mary and accept the shame of admitting that the child is his own. Yet, he is compassionate, and does not want to expose Mary to public shame and disgrace: he chooses to divorce her in a private ceremony.

At this time the angel comes to Joseph and explains what is happening. Joseph responds by belief and by taking Mary home as his own wife. Yet, he also refrains from consummating the marriage until after the birth of Christ.
Joseph and Mary make themselves available to join God in what he is doing in their lives. Many times we try to fight against what God is doing. They gladly embrace God’s working, even though they do not really understand it.

Clearly Messiah - 
This whole first chapter is set her to show us that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one, the promised deliverer. 

He is given the name JESUS - YHWH saves
He is to be called Immanuel - God with us: really a nickname, not a surname
God has come to dwell with us, to meet with us in the everyday affairs of our lives. He is with us at work, at home, wherever we are, whatever we face.

Jesus knew his background. He knew his roots. He used his roots to prepare him for the ministry he would have. He was not hindered or advanced by his background. This morning, you may or may not know your family background and history. Don’t let that hinder you from serving God. Choose today to overcome through the power of God, through the power of Immanuel, God who is with us, who is with you to enable you and give you the victory in your life. How has God been preparing you? What does he have in store for you? The question is not what is in your past, but what is in your future!