As a kid I remember going to a lot of extended family Christmas gatherings. Relatives I rarely saw would be there. Of course, there were the cheek pinchers and the hair messer uppers, which as a kid I hated but I tolerated. But we also had relatives show up that caused whispers and stares. And even as a kid you knew there was a feeling that it would have been fine if that branch of the family tree hadn’t shown up.
You know what I mean, don’t you? Are you having family at your house this Christmas? Is there anyone in your family you wish wouldn’t come? Or you hope they don’t stay very long? Maybe you’re traveling to see family at Christmas and I know what you talk about on the way. I hope Uncle so and so isn’t there or I hope Cousin what’s her name doesn’t show up. Of course, they’re probably saying the same thing about you. But we all have some bad apples in our family tree, don’t we? Well, Jesus was no different.
When we think about Christmas, our tendency is to think about a baby, a manger, a star, and Bethlehem, and shepherds, etc. There is a tendency to jump right into the night of Jesus’ birth because for most of us that’s the imagery of Christmas, and it should be as we think about Jesus being born in a manger. But as I began to think about Christmas this year, I was reading all the accounts in the Gospels. As I was reading Matthew, something really stuck out to me. There is more to Christmas than just the birth of Jesus. Matthew begins his story of Jesus and Christmas with a genealogy. He wrote his Gospel targeting the Jewish people. And in order to show them that Jesus was the Messiah, he would have to prove that Jesus came from the lineage of King David because the Bible said that’s where the Messiah would come from. So he didn’t start at the manger, he went all the way back to Abraham.
Matthew goes out of his way to make sure we don’t miss the fact that Jesus comes from a long line of people, many of whom are an embarrassment to the Old Testament and the Jewish race. He must have reveled in the fact that in Jesus’ ancestry there were all these people who were just like him, a tax collector, who couldn’t come to God based on their own righteousness. Men and women like him who knew if they were ever going to get to God it would take more than work and good deeds.
There is more to Christmas than just the birth of Jesus. It means we can have access to God, not based on our goodness, but because we know we’re not good. We know our past is questionable. And Jesus never condemned anyone and He doesn’t condemn you. To condemn you and me for our sin would be like condemning the sun for being hot and condemning the water for being wet. It’s just what we are. And it’s because of what we are that God sent Who He did – a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.