I stink at Fantasy football. I just can’t seem year after year to assemble a team good enough to accomplish the goal of winning. If you don’t know what fantasy football is…it is a competition where a group of guys select imaginary teams from among players in the NFL and score points based on those players performance week to week.
Every year, I am telling you I do research. I make a list of my top players to get and I do my best to assemble a good team that can score points. I do this so I can win. What is interesting is that sometimes the best players are the ones that nobody ever thinks about drafting and they turn out to be the star of the team.
As I sit here thinking about Christmas and the birth of Jesus, I sometimes wonder about the “team” God assembled to bring about the birth of the Messiah.
Matthew tells about this team and, boy, is it an interesting list to say the least.
Now in Matthew 1:1, Matthew definitely starts with the STAR player, so to speak.
Matthew 1:1 “The historical record of JESUS CHRIST, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham…”
Make no mistake – the STORY OF CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT JESUS! HE IS THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY. He is the star of Christmas.
The plan of the Messiah – the plan of redemption – the plan of salvation is all about Jesus. In Christ, the story has life. The plan holds together.
That part of the story is easy for me to grasp. It is the next several verses that start to get slightly questionable. Verses 2-16 are a list of people that were in the family tree of Jesus. Immediately Matthew is reminding us that in the Story of Christmas God included people.
If you just glance at the list several names will jump out as impressive. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon.
But when you begin to actually inspect the list it gets a little iffy. First of all there are names that aren’t instantly recognizable. Names like Aram, Jeconiah, Nahshon.
And sure those above names are impressive, but when you remember every detail of their lives…
David was an adulterer and and a murderer. Solomon was the result of part of that. Abraham lied about his identity on at least 2 occasions. Jacob was a liar and a thief.
Then you have ladies in the list like Tamar who only made the list because she acted like a prostitute and seduced her own father-in-law. Rahab was a harlot (aka prostitute) before she became a person of faith. Ruth was a foreign refugee.
You see what I mean? It is quite the list. But remember who is writing this list.
Matthew. Yes, he was a follower of Jesus, but in his life before that, he was a Jewish tax collector. These guys were contracted by Rome to collect taxes from the Jews and they were allowed to charge extra as long as Rome got their money. As a matter of fact, when you read the New Testament, you see that they are a class of sinner all their own. Often it is stated “tax collectors and sinners.” So they were so bad that they were their own category.
Matthew is writing this list to remind us and maybe remind himself that God can hit straight with a crooked stick!
You see the story of Christmas was not limited by the past of the players leading up to Jesus. God is perfect but he does not demand perfection in people to accomplish his purpose.
I think I struggle with believing this. Do you? So often I am haunted by my past, forgetting God’s work in me, and I miss being used by God. I have to remember that He is bigger than my past failures.
Look, we are all sinners according to Scripture. Sin is the great equalizer. We have all fallen short. BUT GOD! Jesus died to deal with our sin and bring us redemption. If you are a believer, Jesus is what ultimately defines you.
I love what Rick Warren says, “Through salvation our past has been forgiven, our present given meaning, and our future is secured.”
Let me encourage you if your past haunts you. If you are in Christ, don’t allow your past to limit the purpose God has for you. Here is the thing. God could have accomplished his plan for redemption 1,000 different ways, but He didn’t. He used people. Imperfect people. He used people because he was coming as a person. He was coming to save people. He still uses people because He is still saving people.
The plan started with Jesus – included imperfect people, but ultimately comes back to Jesus. Matthew makes sure we remember that. He wants us to be encouraged by the list of “his kind of people” but he doesn’t want that to be the end of the list.
Matthew 1:16. “…Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.“
42 generation of sinners pointed to someone greater than themselves. That is the point of this list. Their past, their stories, their faith, their lives culminated in a story that is all about the Savior of the world. That would be their legacy.
He would be a Messiah who makes the way for us to be forgiven, have the trajectory of our lives and eternities altered, and transform us into people with a purpose.
You see, that is where our lives must be pointing. Our lives are not about us. Christmas reminds us of that. It is His story. The story of Jesus, the Savior.
You see when we live in our past and are defined by our failures we are stealing the story from Jesus.
When we allow Satan to get us so entrenched in what we used to be instead of what Jesus has made us and is making us – we steal the story.
When we wallow in sin that we’ve been forgiven for – guilt that we have been freed from – we make the story about us and not about the one who saves us!
When we try to obey rules instead of living lives of grace free to glorify God, we make the story about ourselves and what we can do.
You see when we lean on our ability, we steal the story.
When we make what we do about us, we grab the spotlight, we get the glory. We begin to do things that write a narrative that is all about us.
When we trust in our perceived strengths, we are too quick to eliminate faith from our walk and that in effect eliminates that story of Jesus.
Quit trusting in your strength – in your talent – in your ability and make yourself available to Him so that he can do whatever he wants with you and you can tell His story! Quit letting your past overshadow the truth of Jesus in your life.
WHOSE STORY ARE YOU TELLING WITH YOUR LIFE? DON’T STEAL HIS STORY!
LIVE ON PURPOSE.