Good News! (Luke 2:8-15)

  • when I drive my car these days, I inevitably have my radio on, and it's usually tuned to CFRB
  • Michael Coren has a commercial on that, whenever I hear it, I turn it up
  • I've heard it so many times - and Christina has heard it too - that we practically know it off by heart
  • Michael Coren is extolling the virtues of an automobile leasing company, and has brought in his children for some help
  • he asks his daughter, Lucy, what she thinks of Auto Depot
  • "In my opinion, it's absolutely fantastic!"
  • he asks his son, Daniel, what he thinks, and gets pretty much the same answer
  • I remember the first time I heard this ad, and I was getting pretty shocked
  • how dare this man use his children to promote a car company?

  • but then he asks his four-year-old son, Oliver, what he thinks of using children in advertising
  • and his son says, "Bad news, Daddy!"

  • a little while later I heard Michael begin to get a bit heated as he was expressing his opinion, and everyone else around the table was turning against him
  • in the sound booth, just for a bit of comic relief, the producer inserted the sound clip: "Bad news, Daddy!"
  • as I mentioned, Christina has heard this so many times that she too has taken to telling me, "Bad news, Daddy!"

  • have you heard enough bad news?
  • have you?
  • my mother's car was stolen this week not too far from here
  • as I listened to the news I heard of two other cars being robbed at gunpoint, and even the Attorney General of our province had his car stolen
  • have you heard enough bad news?

  • on Friday I received a call from the Toronto Star
  • it seems that every other week they call me and offer me home delivery of their newspaper
  • and every time I say no
  • I don't need to read any more bad news than I already do
  • let me tell you: there's enough bad in this world that if we wanted to be completely depressed, we'd have every reason to be!
  • bad news appears to be all there is, or it certainly outnumbers the good news!

  • this morning I'm going to give you some good news for a change
  • this good news is so profoundly important that it is bigger and stronger than all the bad news in your life
  • I'd ask that you open your Bibles with me to a familiar passage found in Luke 2
  • we're going to look at this story with fresh eyes and see if we can find some good news in there to encourage ourselves
  • read with me:
  • (Luke 2:8) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
  • (Luke 2:9) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

  • THE FIRST GOOD NEWS I HAVE FOR YOU IS THAT CHRISTMAS IS FOR NOBODIES
  • do you ever feel like a nobody?
  • one of my favorite pages in the weekend paper is the society page
  • it has pictures and descriptions of events that recently took place in Toronto that I didn't even know about
  • I certainly wasn't invited to them!
  • it shows wonderful pictures of people in expensive clothes - people that I don't know at all
  • but they all seem to know each other

  • I don't think I've ever seen a person I know personally on those pages
  • why?
  • I think I'm hanging out with the wrong crowd!
  • I'm a nobody
  • I might be somebody to my family and friends, but in society's pecking order, I'm a nobody

  • when we read in Luke 2 that angels appeared to shepherds living out in the fields nearby, I think the question we're supposed to ask is, "The angels appeared to whom? Did I hear you say shepherds?"
  • I have it on pretty good authority that the shepherds never appeared on the society pages of the Jerusalem Post
  • God revealed his Son, but not to those we might expect
  • Jesus' birth was announced to shepherds in the fields
  • these might have been the shepherds who cared for the lambs who supplied the temple sacrifices
  • but they were not very high on the pecking order
  • the Pharisees of that time said there were six professions that were unworthy
  • one of those was being a shepherd
  • their reputation was that they were untrustworthy
  • you could not even use their testimony for legal matters
  • shepherds in that time were usually very young, just as David in the Old Testament was only a boy

  • don't forget - the greatest event in history had just happened
  • the Messiah had been born!
  • the Jews had waited for centuries for the Messiah to come
  • but when the big event finally occurred, it was announced to ordinary shepherds

  • this is the good news
  • Jesus does not come to those of society; he does not come to the well-heeled or to those of position
  • he comes to all, including the plain and ordinary
  • no extraordinary qualifications are needed - Jesus comes to you just as you are
  • the birth of Jesus was not announced to the elite in Jerusalem - it was announced to ordinary folk like you and me
  • that's good news!

  • read on with me
  • (Luke 2:10) But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
  • (Luke 2:11) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
  • (Luke 2:12) This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
  • there's more good news
  • THE NEWS IS THIS: WE HAVE A SAVIOR
  • when the angel appears to the shepherds, they react just like every other person reacted who ever saw an angel
  • like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Jeremiah, Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary, they were terrified
  • and the angel said what almost every angel says after scaring the shoes off human beings: "Don't be afraid"
  • but this angel brought a special announcement, something he called "good news of great joy that shall be to all people"
  • I don't think you could say it much stronger than that
  • it's good news; it's going to bring great joy; and it's for all the people
  • as Eugene Peterson translates it, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody worldwide"

  • the announcement is this: a Savior is born; a Savior who is Messiah and Master
  • we don't use the word savior much today
  • we know what it means: someone who saves
  • most Jews would have thought that a savior would be a political leader who would deliver them from Roman rule
  • others might have thought of the savior delivering them from sickness and hardship
  • but here we have the best news of all: a Savior is born who delivers us from sin and death
  • while he established a spiritual kingdom and healed diseases, his work is far more wide-reaching than we could have imagined

  • these days people tend to reduce things to the temporal and physical
  • when Jesus came, he could have brought political peace, and delivered Israel from Roman rule
  • he could have fed all the hunger and healed all the diseases
  • but our greatest problem isn't physical or political: it's spiritual

  • there's a Christmas card that says:
  • If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so he sent us a Savior."
  • did you hear that?
  • our greatest need is forgiveness
  • and that's why the angel's message is such good news

  • a little boy wrote a letter to Santa and said:
  • "Dear Santa: There are three boys living at my house. Jeffrey is two, David is four, and Norman is seven. Jeffrey is good some of the time, David is good some of the time, and Norman is good all of the time. I am Norman."
  • well, I've got news for you
  • you are not Norman
  • you do not bat .1000
  • we all live with a sense of regret because we are not perfect
  • the Bible tells us that:
  • (Romans 3:10) As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;
  • (Romans 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

  • but the Bible also tells us:
  • (Acts 10:43) Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
  • I heard a lifeguard describe his experience in saving people from drowning
  • he said that every lifeguard knows that as long as they're trying to save themselves, because then they'll take the lifeguard underwater with them
  • the lifeguard said that when he swims out to them, he has to wait until they stop flailing around in the water
  • when they finally give up, it's really easy to reach over, pull their arm over your shoulder, and swim back to shore
  • there's nothing to it
  • but you can't save them as long as they're trying to save themselves

  • our problem is that we either don't recognize we're drowning, or if we do, we try to save ourselves
  • there are many people who don't realize that they need a Savior
  • and there are many others who know they do, but they end up trying to save themselves
  • they say, "Look, God, my good works are this high. My bad works are this low. Looks like I get into heaven"
  • but God says, in effect, "Only perfect people need apply for a perfect place"
  • you need a Savior
  • and that Savior has come to us lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes
  • this Savior was born to us in the city of David
  • and he's given to us as a free gift
  • and that's good news

  • the angels continued their message:
  • (Luke 2:13) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
  • (Luke 2:14) "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
  • one more bit of good news:
  • JESUS BRINGS PEACE
  • I talked to somebody at a Christmas party this week
  • this individual is in his mid 30's and already in his third career
  • he loves his job, but he says that he has time for almost nothing
  • he's working like a dog, and he hopes that by the time he's 50 or 60, he will have reached his goal in life: contentment; peace

  • the world is looking for peace
  • for some this means drinking until they're so drunk, they don't feel the pain anymore
  • for others, it means going from relationship to relationship, hoping that someday someone will fill that void in their life
  • for others, it means working so hard that they never have to think about their lives
  • but peace is something that we all need, and not later in life - we need peace now

  • when Jesus was born, the angels said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
  • if you read the Gospels, you find that those who met Jesus had their lives transformed, and ultimately found peace
  • the tax-collector who spent his life making money dishonestly? he paid back what he had stolen and then some, and followed Jesus
  • the women found in the act of adultery? she received forgiveness and was told to go and sin no more
  • the fishermen who were invited to follow Jesus? they found a cause to live for, and ultimately a cause to die for
  • no matter what happened in their lives, God gave them the strength to handle it
  • Paul wrote:
  • (Philippians 4:6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
  • (Philippians 4:7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  • that's the good news
  • that Christmas is for nobodies
  • that we have been given a Savior to meet our greatest need: forgiveness
  • and that this Savior, Jesus, brings peace: peace with God, and peace within our hearts

  • some of you might recognize your need for forgiveness
  • you've been trying to save yourself
  • you might understand your need for peace
  • that forgiveness and that peace is available to you this morning, free of charge
  • you can receive the most priceless gift you've ever received; one that you can't even by at Sherway Gardens
  • you can have your past forgiven
  • God can clean up your past, take care of your present, and secure your future
  • it's the gift you can only receive from the babe in the manger who grew up to be the man on the cross, the one who died for your sins
  • if you would like to receive this gift, the time is now
  • and that, my friends, is good news
Posted on December 21, 1997 and filed under Uncategorized.

When God Became Man

  • if you haven't heard the recent debate about Jesus, you've obviously had your radios and televisions turned off
  • Reverend Bill Phipps, the newly elected moderator of the United Church, has publicly expressed his views that Jesus is not God and he did not physically rise from the dead
  • about Christmas he says, "All the biblical stories surrounding the birth of Jesus evoke wonder and awe and majesty. But as soon as you want to reduce them to literal fact, they lose their power."

  • it's not every day you hear the head of a denomination questioning the divinity of Jesus, but sadly, it's becoming more common
  • but it serves to remind us of the audacity of the story of Christmas: that God visited the earth in the person of his Son
  • in this enlightened age, who can really believe such a story?
  • it's outrageous!
  • we forget how startling a claim the Bible makes when it talks about Jesus being the Son of God, lying in a manger
  • and yet, I believe it's true
  • one of the most startling verses in the Bible is found in John
  • (John 1:14) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • what a verse!
  • that God became flesh and dwelt among us
  • no wonder some people have a hard time understanding and believing this!

  • another verse says:
  • (1 Timothy 3:16) Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

  • that God the Son took upon himself a real human nature is a crucial doctrine of historic Christianity
  • from very early periods in the church, people struggled with this idea?
  • how could Jesus Christ be both fully man and fully God?
  • some called into question his deity
  • but some began to teach that Jesus did not have a real physical body or a true human nature
  • they argued that Jesus only "seemed" to have a body, but in reality, he was a phantom sort of being
  • but do you remember what John argued?
  • (2 John 1:7) Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
  • in other words, if you deny that Jesus came in the flesh, you're of the Antichrist
  • that's pretty strong language!

  • others began teaching another falsehood: that Jesus did not have two natures, but rather one nature
  • this single nature was neither truly divine or truly human, but a mixture of the two
  • this heresy is more subtle, but it allows people to teach either that Jesus was a deified human or a humanized deity
  • G. Campbell Morgan, wrestling with the mystery of Christ's incarnation, wrote:
  • He was the God-man. Not God dwelling in a man. Of such there have been many. Not a man Deified. Of such there have been none save in the myths of pagan systems of thought; but God and man, combining in one. Personality of the two natures, a perpetual enigma and mystery, baffling the possibility of explanation.

  • in AD451, the great ecumenical Council of Chalcedon met and affirmed that "Jesus is truly man and truly God and that the two natures of Christ are so united as to be without mixture, confusion, separation, or division, each nature retaining its own attributes" (R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith p.81).

  • never forget: Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever
  • did you get that last part?
  • Jesus is still fully man today, and will remain so forever!
  • (1 Timothy 2:5) For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
  • when Jesus left the earth, he ascended as a man into heaven, and he remains a man today
  • now, if your circuits are on overload, I'm not surprised
  • this truth is indeed mind-boggling and wonderful

  • that's what we celebrate at Christmas
  • the real mystery of Christmas is that God became flesh and dwelt among us
  • God who created us became one of us
  • the God of infinite powers and wisdom took upon himself a human body; he thought with a human mind; he had a human soul and human emotions
  • as Mary held and nursed that little boy, she must have been filled with awe: this was no ordinary child; he was God incarnate
  • Emmanuel; God with us

  • the truth of the incarnation is something that we could not exhaust if we devoted years to it
  • but let me tell you what it means to us today
  • I'm going to start very simple, but simple truths are often the best truths

  • IT MEANS THAT GOD LOVES US
  • (John 3:16) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • it's important to realize that most religions are united in believing that God is in need of being appeased - that he's angry and we have to earn his approval
  • but one thing sets Christianity apart: the teaching that while we were yet sinners, God loved us so much that he gave us his one and only Son
  • (Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

  • think of the sacrifice that Jesus made in becoming a man
  • it boggles the mind to think that the creator of the universe became a baby in need of care
  • that he took upon himself a human body and thought with a human mind
  • that he worked as a builder for a living; that he was subjected to the attack of his own creatures
  • ultimately, that the very source of life died for our sins
  • what love! what a sacrifice!
  • what else does it mean?

  • IT MEANS THAT GOD KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE THE HUMAN LIFE
  • I really believe that in our zeal to emphasize the deity of Christ, many of us minimize his humanity
  • the Christmas hymn says, "The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes; But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes"
  • I want to ask Martin Luther, who wrote this beautiful hymn, "Don't you think the baby Jesus ever cried? Maybe Mary remembers!"
  • I hope you won't find it disrespectful to talk of Jesus as a crying baby, as experiencing hunger and fatigue, as a young child who had to learn how to walk, and sometimes fell
  • if Christina could understand, I would tell her that Jesus knows what it's like to be a three-year old child
  • imagine! God, the one who created this world, knows from firsthand experience what it's like to be a three-year old child

  • but Jesus also knows what it's like to be an adult
  • Jesus prayed as we do
  • he felt compassion for people; he slept; he grieved over the death of a friend; he wept
  • he experienced the rejection of friends; he knows what it's like to experience excruciating pain
  • when we are hungry, weary, lonely, he understands, for he has gone through it all himself

  • as our great High Priest, the Bible teaches that Jesus is able to sympathize with us
  • (Hebrews 2:18) Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
  • (Hebrews 4:15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.
  • (Hebrews 4:16) Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
  • Jesus experienced every kind of temptation a person can have, and yet was without sin
  • when you are tempted, your great High Priest is able to sympathize with your struggle - and give you victory over the temptation as well< /li>
  • YOU MIGHT NOT BE AWARE OF THIS, BUT JESUS' INCARNATION ALLOWED HIM TO BECOME OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
  • the concept of high priest is removed from us, but Hebrews describes who a high priest is and what he does:
  • (Hebrews 5:1) Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
  • a high priest represents us in matters related to God, and he offers gifts and sacrifices for sins
  • a high priest had to specific qualifications: he had to be "selected from among men," and thus able to represent them before God
  • and he had to be called by God
  • to truly represent us, he had to be one of us

  • the Bible teaches that men and women are alienated from God by sin
  • we needed someone to come between God and ourselves and to bring us back to him
  • to be ideally qualified, this person had to be able to represent us to God and to represent God to us
  • now who would be able to do both?
  • only one person has ever fulfilled this requirement:
  • (1 Timothy 2:5) For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
  • to act as our mediator, Jesus had to be fully man as well as fully God

  • can you see what would happen if these things weren't true?
  • can you imagine what would happen if God didn't love us enough to die for us?
  • can you imagine if Jesus wasn't able to sympathize with our struggles and temptations?
  • can you imagine if we didn't have Jesus to represent us to God?

  • THE FACT THAT JESUS BECAME A MAN IS IMPORTANT IN OTHER WAYS AS WELL
  • the Bible teaches that Jesus fulfilled God's original purpose to rule over creation
  • that he lived as a human to be our example and pattern in life - to show us how we should live our lives
  • he showed us that human life is not inherently bad - that physical nature is not something we should look down at
  • he showed us the pattern for our redeemed bodies - what our resurrection bodies will be like - by rising from the dead in a new body that was imperishable and raised in glory

  • BUT I WON'T LOOK AT THESE THIS MORNING, SIMPLY BECAUSE I WANT TO FOCUS ON ONE MORE WAY THAT THE INCARNATION IS SIGNIFICANT FOR US TODAY
  • I attended a funeral yesterday
  • I've never seen this happen before, but the son of the deceased gave a theological lecture on his church's teachings
  • one thing he said is that Adam's sin has nothing to do with us today - that we're not guilty because Adam sinned thousands of years ago
  • I was surprised - first because I've never heard the subject come up in the middle of a funeral service before

  • but I was also surprised for another reason
  • the Bible teaches that we are counted guilty because of Adam's sin
  • (Romans 5:12) Therefore...sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned
  • this might be hard to understand, but God thought of us all as having sinned when Adam sinned
  • (Romans 5:18) Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
  • (Romans 5:19) For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

  • when Adam sinned, God thought of all who would descend from Adam as sinners
  • in a sense, Adam was our representative in the Garden of Eden
  • we inherited not only guilt from Adam, but also a sinful nature
  • and don't worry - you might think it's unfair that God holds you responsible for Adam's sin
  • but trust me, you've sinned a few times yourself, for which God holds you personally responsible

  • Jesus became our representative and obeyed for us where Adam had failed and disobeyed
  • (Romans 5:18) Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
  • (Romans 5:19) For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

  • Jesus became the second Adam
  • just as we inherited guilt and sin from Adam, we inherit righteousness from Christ

  • in becoming a man, Jesus became the perfect substitute sacrifice
  • if Jesus hadn't have been a man, he couldn't have died in our place and paid the penalty that was due to us
  • (Hebrews 2:17) For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
  • unless Jesus was fully man, he could not have died to pay the penalty for man's sins
  • he couldn't have been a substitute sacrifice for us

  • [CONCLUSION]
  • think of it this morning
  • think of what it means that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
  • it means that God loves us
  • it means that God the Son knows exactly what it's like to live the human life
  • it means that he is perfectly qualified to act as our great high priest
  • that he was able to cancel the power of Adam's sin
  • that he was the perfect substitute sacrifice for us
  • this is what it means that God became man
Posted on December 14, 1997 and filed under Uncategorized.

Levi's Genes (Matthew 1:1-17)

  • everyone knows that genealogies are the biggest yawn in the Bible
  • "Rehoboam begat Abijah, and Abijah begat Ralph" - and so on
  • it warms the heart about as much as reading the phone book
  • it's not often said right out, but it's understood - it's okay to skip over the genealogies
  • in fact, if we applied our speed-reading techniques to these passages, and the Bible was one big genealogy, we would probably read the Bible in about a week, rather than a year
  • but do you believe 2 Timothy 3:16?
  • (2 Timothy 3:16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
  • if this is true, it includes the begats
  • and so, I want you to join me this morning for the first message I've ever preached on something we've probably skipped over dozens of times - the genealogy of Jesus
  • what's obvious from the prominence given to these names at the beginning of Matthew is that what we consider to be boring and uninteresting was of great importance to the original audience
  • you and I would never dream of starting a book this way:
  • (Matthew 1:1) The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
  • (Matthew 1:2) Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers...
  • regardless of what you think, genealogies were important in Jesus' day - and they're sometimes important to us today
  • at the Metro Reference Library, there's an entire room devoted to genealogies
  • wouldn't it be interesting to find out that you have blue blood, or are descended from pirates, or criminals, or famous explorers?
  • in Jesus' day, in order to own land in Israel, you had to be able to show public documents that proved your genealogy that gave you a right to a piece of the Holy Land
  • your pedigree could determine military service, to connect you to royalty - the house of David, maybe?
  • as a Jew, it would trace your ancestry back to Abraham
  • privileges were reserved for certain tribes
  • for example, to be a priest you had to be of the tribe of Levi and have - get ready for it - Levi's genes
  • but something else was important
  • God's chosen people knew that the Messiah would come from a certain family of the house and lineage of David
  • what's interesting is that in the Gospels, even Jesus' bitterest critics never once quarreled with him about his descent from David
  • it must have been a matter of public record that Jesus was heir to David and Abraham, and the inheritor of the promises of Israel
  • the genealogy in Matthew 1 is a carefully constructed one
  • verse 17 gives us an interpretive clue:
  • (Matthew 1:17) 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.
  • this is a stylized, theological genealogy
  • there have been names included and other names excluded for a purpose
  • God is, in essence, preaching a three-point sermon to us
  • let's dig a little and try to find what's here
  • verses 2 to 6 lists a great period in Israel's history
  • it begins with Abraham, the father of Israel, and rises up to David
  • it covers the period of the Exodus, the conquest of the promised land, and the glorious reign of King David, the greatest king to rule over Israel
  • IF YOU DIG A LITTLE IN THIS SECTION, YOU'LL FIND GOD'S MERCY
  • what is surprising in this section is the mention of four women
  • today, the inclusion of women in a genealogy doesn't surprise us
  • we would almost ask, "Why aren't there more?"
  • it was very unusual to mention women in a genealogy at that time, and if one did mention women, it would do so for the purpose of enhancing the purity and nobility of a heritage
  • you would expect Matthew to mention some of the grand women of the Old Testament, heroines of the faith
  • maybe Sarah and Rebecca and Rachel, the wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
  • but look at the women who are listed: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba
  • two of these women aren't Jewish at all
  • Rahab was a Gentile prostitute, and Ruth was a Moabite woman
  • these were women who did not bring credibility to Jesus' Jewishness; rather, they contaminated his bloodline
  • but Matthew is teaching us about God's mercy
  • there's a wideness in God's mercy, reaching beyond the Jewish people
  • Matthew is teaching us that God's love is bigger than the Jewish race, that Jesus is the Savior of all people, and that what God promised to Abraham was true: "Through you shall all the nations of the world be blessed"
  • you see, God is not sexist
  • God is not racist
  • red and yellow, black and white - all are precious in his sight
  • Matthew lets us know that the blood of two Gentile mothers coursed through the blood of the Savior of the world
  • but look a bit closer
  • Tamar tricked her father-in-law into having a child by her by disguising herself as a prostitute
  • Rahab didn't disguise herself as a prostitute - she was a prostitute!
  • and a cloud still remains over Bathsheba - was she a willing participant or a victim?
  • Matthew doesn't even mention her name
  • all we read in verse 6 is simply "And David, the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah"
  • a thousand years later and she still isn't David's wife!
  • she is the wife of Uriah
  • and yet she is a distant grandmother of our Lord
  • we do not exactly hold up Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba as role models in our Sunday School
  • it's as though Matthew had scoured the lineage of Jesus in order to find the seediest women he could find
  • why?
  • because he wants to show us that not only is God's love bigger than the Jewish race, my friend, God's love is bigger than your sin and my sin
  • God's love embraces us even with our sinfulness
  • God uses stained and soiled, but repentant, sinners in order to bring us the Messiah
  • I bet you didn't know that the begats of the Bible drip with the grace and love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ
  • he's a friend of sinners; a light to the Gentiles
  • we didn't pick our families, but Jesus picked his
  • look what the chose: an ordinary human family with scoundrels and saints mixed in together
  • if you've never trusted Christ as Savior, you might say, "Pastor, I've got some stuff in my background you don't want in this church"
  • I would hope we'd let Tamar, we'd let Rahab, and Bathsheba into our church
  • if God loves them, we love them to
  • and if God commends his love to you while you're still a sinner, as he does, then we love you to
  • come to Jesus Christ this morning
  • but we're not done
  • at the beginning of paragraph two in the middle of verse 6, Israel is riding high, wide, and handsome on the reign of David
  • they thought they were on the brink of paradise in 1000 BC, when David was at the height of his reign
  • but suddenly it all crumbled, and everything went downhill
  • these fourteen generations, from verses 6 to 11, carry us to the dark period of Israel's history - their exile to Babylon
  • Israel had entered into a period of great unfaithfulness to God and his commands
  • as we read the stories of the kings who succeeded David, we find that their hearts weren't fully devoted to the one true God
  • they worshiped false gods
  • they engaged in immoral acts
  • they showed no concern for the poor
  • read the prophetic books of the Old Testament, and you'll find that it wasn't a great time in Israel's history
  • WE'RE GETTING A LESSON IN THIS SECTION ON GOD'S JUDGMENT
  • it is so easy to mistake God's love and mercy for indulgence
  • God does not take sin and unfaithfulness lightly; God always judges sin
  • in the messages given to Israel in this period through the prophets, God was yearning for his people to repent
  • he was longing for his people to return to him, but they continued in their sins
  • this morning we've already talked about God's mercy and grace
  • but we dare not forget that God takes sin seriously
  • he is waiting for some of you to repent and stop serving other gods and living a life of only partial devotion to him
  • you might even be experiencing God's judgment in your life this morning
  • (Hebrews 12:5) And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
  • (Hebrews 12:6) because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
  • (Hebrews 12:7) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
  • (Hebrews 12:11) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
  • God is longing for you to return to him in repentance this morning
  • let's look at the third lesson Matthew brings to our attention
  • the third set of fourteen ancestors is found in verses 12 to 16, covering the period from the exile to the birth of Christ
  • MATTHEW REMINDS US OF THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD
  • the one thing that all forty-two of these people in these three paragraphs had in common was this: they were all waiting
  • the promise had first come to Abram:
  • (Genesis 22:18) and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
  • then it came to David:
  • (Psalms 89:4) 'I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.'"
  • and the people waited, generation after generation
  • still no Messiah
  • so they waited some more
  • you know how hard it is to wait; we wonder why God isn't acting
  • some of us are waiting this morning, waiting for God to act with power in situations of pain and sorrow and heartache
  • we're tired of waiting, and we wonder, "How long, O Lord?"
  • but on this page, Matthew teaches us not only about the God's mercy and God's judgment, he is teaching us about the faithfulness of God
  • when the Holy One came, he was a literal descendent of King David, as God had promised
  • God did not forget his promises; he remained faithful
  • not only was Jesus the Son of David, he was also the Son of God
  • read through the verses, and you read, "So-and-so was the father of so-and-so..."
  • but when you come to verse 16, you come across the startling phrase:
  • (Matthew 1:16) and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
  • he's not Joseph's son; he's Mary's son
  • he's not Joseph's boy; he's God's Son!
  • the incredible part is, we can enter into this genealogy
  • whereas before the bloodline to Abraham was all-important, now what matters is our relation to Christ
  • whereas before people would say, "Abraham was our father," now what matters is faith in Jesus Christ
  • you don't receive eternal life based on your bloodline
  • God's genealogy can become your genealogy
  • by faith in Jesus Christ, you can become God's child:
  • (John 1:12) Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--
  • (John 1:13) children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
  • you might be far from God this morning
  • but Matthew has an important message for you:
  • message number one: God is merciful
  • it doesn't matter how much you have messed up in your life
  • God is merciful and loves you
  • message number two: God judges sin
  • don't become complacent with God's mercy
  • God will judge sin
  • the Bible tells us:
  • (Romans 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • (Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • message number three: God is faithful
  • God has not forgotten you
  • God has been faithful generation after generation
  • God is faithful today
Adapted from a message by Vic Pentz (c) 1989
Posted on December 7, 1997 and filed under Uncategorized.