Merry Christmas from PRN Pastor! Every pastor takes great joy in sharing the glad tidings of Jesus’ birth, and I am no exception. Here is my Christmas sermon—a gift of good news to you and yours:
If you were not reading this and I were to spontaneously ask you if you had genes that fit; you most likely would think I was inquiring about jeans of the denim variety, not genes of the genetic variety. As you can tell, however, from my spelling of genes, this message is not about jeans. Regardless, this seems an opportune time to share with you a humorous (although it was not at the time it happened) misadventure involving a particular pair of Lee jeans.
When Donna and I were active in our magic ministry, we were members of the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians (FCM). On the second Monday of each month, an evening meeting was held in one of the conference rooms at the Homewood Public Library in Homewood, Alabama.
The monthly meeting provided a venue where local Christian performers could not only fellowship, but also share their creative ministries. At any given meeting; an assortment of magicians, clowns, jugglers, puppeteers, and ventriloquists would be present. Some were professionals, and others hobbyists.
There was this one particular Monday that the odds seemed stacked against Donna’s and my attending the meeting. The mail was extremely heavy on my mail route, so I was running late returning home from my job at the post office.
When I finally did get home; I hurriedly shaved, showered, towel dried, and threw on the first clothes—a long-sleeve button-up shirt and pair of jeans—in my sight path. Counting down the minutes to the meeting; Donna and I jumped in the car, and I drove us over to the library.
Actually managing to arrive a minute or two early, we exchanged pleasantries with several of our comrades until the meeting was called to order. We began with a discussion of business, both old and new. Then, we proceeded to the entertainment segment. Sitting in my chair and watching the different performances, I became increasingly aware that my jeans were uncomfortable—feeling much, much tighter than usual.
Leaning over to Donna, I whispered in her ear:
I believe either my jeans have shrunk or I have gained weight.
Donna whispered back:
Jeans do shrink a bit in the wash, but usually stretch back into shape as you wear them.
In a desperate attempt to get a little more play in the fabric; I fidgeted, as discreetly as possible, in my seat. Despite my best efforts; my jeans seemed to be getting tighter, not looser.
After the meeting adjourned, I was relieved to get home and be able to exchange my too-tight jeans for jeans that fit. Had the latter been a repeat performance of the former, the next meeting I attended might very well have been Weight Watchers.
Later, when Donna was in the bedroom putting away the clothes she and I had worn to the meeting, I heard her break out in laughter. Infamous jeans in hand; she walked into the living room, where I was sitting and enjoying my newfound freedom to inhale and exhale, and said:
No wonder these jeans did not fit, they are mine!
The life lesson I took away from this is:
If the man is to be the one who wears the pants in the family, he needs to first make sure the pants are his.
Histories and Epiphanies
Lately, there has been an increased interest in determining if our genes fit—in discovering who we, as individuals, are and from where our ancestors came.
Now, utilizing DNA as a tracking tool, there are many companies we can employ to help us dig deep and uncover the roots of our family trees. One of those companies, Ancestry. com, has run some rather humorous television-commercials about people who sought to discover if their genes fit:
- Kyle Merker grew up thinking he was German, but his genes did not fit. Merker is of Irish descent.
- Erik Mzik thought he was Italian, but his genes did not fit. Mzik is of Eastern-European ancestry.
- Emily Jungblut-Swinarski was not sure of her lineage, but her genes fit much better than she anticipated. Jungblut-Swinarski’s great-grandmother ten-times back was the aunt of America’s first president, George Washington.
It’s All Relative
Of the four Gospels; we find the genealogy of Jesus in only two, Matthew and Luke.
Born a Jew, Matthew’s Gospel was aimed more at a Jewish audience. Matthew was present during Jesus’ ministry and was one of His disciples. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth and early years was compiled from information netted from Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other fact witnesses. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ ministry, however, was compiled from firsthand experiences as a disciple.
Born a Greek, Luke’s Gospel was aimed more at a Gentile audience. Unlike Matthew, Luke had never met Jesus and was not one of His disciples. Luke’s full account of Jesus’ life was compiled entirely from information netted from Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other fact witnesses.
Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogical accounts of Jesus’ lineage are entirely different. Delving deeper into the reason why; I found the most widely-accepted explanation is that Matthew covered the lineage of Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus—whereas Luke covered that of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Lineage of Jesus According to Matthew
Matthew moves forward from Abraham to Jesus:
Matthew 1:1-17 (King James Version)
1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
Lineage of Jesus According To Luke
Luke moves backward from Jesus to Adam:
Luke 3:23-38 (King James Version)
23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,
24 Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph,
25 Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge,
26 Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda,
27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri,
28 Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er,
29 Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi,
30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim,
31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,
32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson,
33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,
34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,
35 Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala,
36 Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech,
37 Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan,
38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
The Female Factor
At the time Matthew and Luke penned their Gospels, women had virtually no social status and their survival was heavily dependent on their male family-members. Thus, it was not unusual for women to be excluded from biblical genealogy lists.
In Luke’s lineage of Jesus, you will find not one female—not even Mary, the mother of Jesus. Giving precedence to masculinity, Luke did not list Mary as Heli’s daughter; but opted, instead, to list her husband, Joseph, as Heli’s son. Luke does list a Joanna, but that person is a male with a name most-commonly reserved for females.
In Matthew’s lineage of Jesus, however, you will find five members of the fairer sex:
- Thamar (a.k.a. Tamar)
- Rachab (a.k.a. Rahab)
- The wife (a.k.a. Bathsheba) of Urias
The first three are remembered for their notoriety, and the remaining two for their sincerity.
I believe Matthew chose this varied assortment of females to remind us that God is able to use any person and any circumstance for His glory and for our greater good. God reshaped the lives of these women—purposing them to perpetuate the bloodline of the Messiah.
I am reminded of an illustration I read in C. S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
Rumor Has It
Anyone who has been keeping up with current news knows that public figures are constantly being scrutinized. Critics like nothing better than pulling skeletons out of the closets of high-profile people and rattling the bones loud enough for everyone to hear.
From the time Mary, the mother of Jesus, had conceived out of wedlock; the tongues of the gossip hounds were wagging:
Who is the father of Jesus? Is Jesus’ father some Roman soldier or maybe a farm boy who lived near Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth?
The townspeople considered themselves far too world-wise to buy into Mary’s story about an angelic visit and her, a so-called virgin, being with child by the Holy Spirit. Even Joseph was troubled by Mary’s explanation of her delicate condition until his dreams were visited by an angel who confirmed all Mary said to be true.
Believing the angel, Joseph took Mary as his wife. The newlyweds, however, did not consummate their marriage until after the arrival of Jesus, their firstborn son.
If a Jewish man married a woman who was pregnant or had already given birth, he could adopt her child. After the adoption was finalized, her child would be legally recognized as the man’s offspring. If the adopted child were male, the man would customarily pass his trade to the child.
Joseph adopted Jesus—bestowing upon Him not only the family lineage; but also family trade, which was carpentry.
Isaiah’s Messianic Prophecy
The Prophet Isaiah foretold of the coming of a King:
Isaiah 9:6-7 (King James Version)
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah prophesied that this coming King will descend from King David, but will be far greater. Our Scripture texts indicate that both of Jesus’ parents did, indeed, descend from two of King David’s sons:
- Matthew revealed that Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, descended from Solomon, King David’s first surviving son.
- Luke revealed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, descended from Nathan, King David’s third surviving son.
Maintaining family-records was of the utmost importance to the Jewish people. Their attention to detail made genealogical tracking easy and straight forward.
Every vital statistic from birth to death was painstakingly recorded in each family’s history and kept on file in each person’s city of birth. Recording family history was not just for personal reasons, but legal ones as well.
As soon as rumors began to circulate that Jesus might be the Messiah; it is a given that the Sanhedrin, the temple elders, would have sent a representative to Bethlehem to examine the birth-records of Jesus.
A thorough investigation would have been made of Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, to determine if either descended from the royal bloodline of King David. As it turns out, both Joseph and Mary did.
If the Sanhedrin had ever found even a smidgen of proof that Jesus lacked the necessary credentials to be the Messiah, you know they would have lost no time in spreading the news far and wide.
In 70 A.D., the Romans burned down the Second Temple and laid waste to Israel. Reduced to ashes were the Jewish legal-records up until the time of the fire. Now that those records are no longer in existence, it would be impossible for someone to substantiate a claim to the Messianic title.
Jesus, however, had come before the fire at a time when the records were still intact and verifiable; yet no hard evidence was ever unearthed to discredit Him as the Messiah.
The plain and simple truth is that Jesus had genes that fit. He came into the world to build a bridge from earth to heaven, from sin to salvation, from mortality to immortality.
John 3:16 (King James Version)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
In terms of wearability, Lee jeans are not one size fits all. In terms of eternity, Jesus’ genes are.
Yours in Christ,
Featured Image: Ted Henninger (62495); The Nativity; GAK 201; Primary Manual 1-16; Primary Manual 2-06
To accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, all you need do is open your heart to Him, earnestly repent of your sins, and pray the sinner’s prayer.