Every family seems to have a family historian – that one person who is fascinated by the family tree. They are the protectors of the past, the guardians of family documents, the collectors of photographs and heirlooms. They are the ones who can tell you the name of your great aunt on your mother’s side and what town in Germany your great, great grandfather was born in.
A whole industry has been built to assist family historians in finding their roots. You can research census records and test your DNA on Ancestry.com. You can join community genealogy support groups at your local library. Just google “genealogy help” and you will find a myriad of resources.
Many believe learning about previous generations will help them understand who they are today. Others find it a complete waste of time.
The Bible is full of family trees – long lists of names of fathers and sons, births and deaths. When most people come to those lists in their Bible reading, they skip right over them. It seems like such a waste of time reading lists of strange Semitic names. Why does God even include them in the Bible?
Those family trees are a reminder to us that the Bible isn’t simply stories. It’s history. These are real people who lived real lives, just like you and me. They are people who struggled with their own sin and selfishness. They are believers who trusted in the promise of a Savior.
Their story is our story. Reading and learning about them helps us understand who we are. And even more importantly, it helps us understand who our Savior is.
A thin red thread is woven into the tapestry of the Old Testament. It is a line, starting with Adam and ending with Jesus. If you have a chance this week, read Matthew 1:1-17 – Jesus’ family tree through his mother Mary. Or read Luke 3:23-38 – Jesus’ legal genealogy through his stepfather Joseph.
Jesus is God himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Yet because of the miracle of the incarnation, he also can trace his ancestry back to Adam and Eve. Jesus was born as a human being, the descendant of sinful people like you and me – Noah the drunk, Abraham the liar, Rahab the prostitute, David the murderer. Their story is our story – a story of sin and redemption, a story of God’s amazing patience and love.
Those lists of names tell us who we are and, more importantly, who Jesus is. God loved you so much, his story was woven into ours. The divine became human. The infinite God became an infant.
God became a part of mankind’s family tree in order to take our place, to die our death, to free us from the punishment we deserve.
Whether you are fascinated by family trees or could care less about your familial roots, don’t be too quick to pass over those lists of names in the Bible.
They help us understand who we are. They are history. They are His story.
In them we find God woven into our family tree.