I have a confession. While I love reading God’s Word, for many years I skipped right through Matthew 1 and the family line of Jesus. So and so begat so and so. And so on. Yawn. However, now I ponder, study and stew over the names and stories in Jesus’ family line.
There are certainly some heavy hitters on the list like Abraham, Jacob and Solomon. But it gets pretty shady, too. Jesus’ family line was a scandalous mess. It’s not so much the scandal that intrigues me, but that the Bible doesn’t try to hide it. There’s no pruning the bad apples from the family tree to make Jesus’ lineage look like a bunch of holy A-listers. A prostitute, a murderer, outsiders and outcasts are the grandparents of Jesus. And it’s right there in the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament.
It’s as if the Bible is telling us, “See, we all come from dysfunctional families.”
Perhaps you are the first Christ follower in generations (or ever) to lead your family. We can’t change what anyone did before us, but we can make positive changes and bring habits into our family that redirect the growth of the family tree.
While there may be baggage from your ancestors that has been passed down, there is new life in Jesus. We may have to unlearn old habits, trade in familiar coping strategies or chop the family tree down and plant a new seed, but that is exactly what Jesus does and delights in. He longs to free us from bondage that we think we’ll never escape.
Some families pass on sin struggles as if they were passing down fine China — carefully binding it, packaging it and insisting that it stay in the family, intentionally or not. But Jesus speaks new life into every family tree with each individual heart that turns to Him. Here’s what He wants you to know as you lead your family:
You are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) – Even though we carry on family traits like eye color, pointy noses and other physical attributes, if we are in Christ, we are a new creation. The old family ways are gone and you can usher in a new family way rooted in Christ. We can lay all that baggage at Jesus’ feet, and get on with creating a new branch of our family tree.
Christ has come to give you an abundant, full life (John 10:10) – The abundant, full life Jesus talks about is not reserved only for those whose ancestors established an abundant life for their heirs, and has nothing to do with monetary wealth. Even if you have nothing from your ancestors but memories of chaos and hurt, God says of a repentant heart, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). He cares about repairing the damage that has been done to His people and offers an abundant life and a new foundation for the family you are leading.
You are a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17) – It doesn’t matter what your family has passed down to you — a sizable trust fund or the aches of a broken home. Jesus, being God’s only son, says He wants to share ALL that is offered to Him with you. He doesn’t hold anything back for Himself, and though He is God, He doesn’t elevate Himself, but grafts believers into His Sonship (John 17:21) and therefore, His holy family tree.
If you find yourself with a less than stellar pedigree, rest assured, you’re in holy company. Even if your earthly family tree looks more like a briar patch and you had no examples of Christian leadership in your family, you can impact your family and its future generations by being rooted in Christ.
Pray, read God’s Word, be a doer of God’s Word – the essential foundation of all Christian leadership – and know that Jesus is deeply invested in growing your new family tree.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3