After four hundred years of agonizing silence, to a people shamed by exile and humiliated by life under the thumb of Roman rule came a tiny baby, in a backwater town, born to an otherwise unremarkable Jewish couple.
The baby became a boy, then a man, then a controversial itinerant rabbi. Some saw Him do miracles. Some claim He walked on water. Hundreds of people swore they saw Him raise His friend Lazarus from the dead. But He was too divisive and the religious leaders successfully appealed to Rome to have Him crucified. His followers claimed that He rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven.
This man, Jesus, Mathew says, is your king. Matthew lays out the evidence, reaching back to Abraham through the family of David. Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew is saying, is the promised King the prophets spoke of, the David who will rule forever.
The kind of family line an earthly king would erase
What does Jesus’ family line say about what kind of king this will be? He does have royalty in His blood, tracing His family heritage back to David and Abraham. But it’s the others in this family tree that signal what kind of kingdom Jesus inaugurated at his coming.
Judah, the dishonest and immoral son. Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah who bore two of his children. Bathsheba, the mistress of King David. Rahab, a gentile grafted into the line of David by marriage. These are not the kinds of people kings would want mentioned in their book of genealogy. The kinds of names conveniently erased. And yet they are, for King Jesus, portraits of grace. They represent the kind of people who make up God’s new kingdom.
God is calling out a people from every nation, tribe and tongue. He is doing it in Jesus, the rightful King on David’s throne. God’s plan has always been for His people to be a light to the nations, to fill the earth with His glory. But even the best of Israel’s kings could not lead Israel to full prosperity and joy and even the best of Israel’s priestly ministry could not fully mediate between a sinful people and a holy God.
Jesus is both the king who will make the world right again and the king who defeated sin, death and the grave and saved his people from their sins. Jesus is the priest who mediates to God for His people. Jesus is the Lamb, the perfect sacrifice that satisfies Gods’ wrath against sinners.
Welcomed into the family by grace
Jesus’ entrance into the world, described by Matthew, was good news for Israel. But it was also good news for the whole world. Today, God is calling people in Christ to this new and different kingdom. We are kingdom people, not by birth or lineage or our own merit, but by blood. And we come from every kind of race, class, or social station. We come broken, poor, and unable to save ourselves. Like Judah, Tamar, or Bathsheba, we do not belong at the King’s table except by special invitation. We do not belong in the King’s family except by adoption. And we do not belong in the kingdom except for grace.
Christmas, at its heart, is about worship. We celebrate the wonder of our King’s entrance into the world. But our celebration doesn’t end on December 26th or at the end of our vacations. It transcends the date and shapes how we live every day of the year. We worship with those who know Jesus. We share the message with those who do not. And we keep doing it until the end. For until the day Jesus returns, we have a message worth sharing: Behold your King.
Today’s post is by Daniel Darling. Daniel is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the author of several books, and Pastor of Teaching and Discipleship at Green Hills Church in Mt Juliet, Tennessee.