The New Year’s holiday is a time for family, friends, and reflection. Many families spend the holiday season on the road, traveling to parent’s or sibling’s homes. Blow-up mattresses or sofa beds are pulled out for the children, as 12-20 people descend on a house that normally has 4-5 people living in it (or two in the case of older parents!). Board games are dusted off and old memories are rehashed, as family members reminisce.
Oftentimes, during these special times, conversations will turn to a cousin or uncle who “ran into a little trouble with the law.” Or maybe Mom or Dad shares the latest update of the troubled marriage of so-and-so, or your niece who had a baby before getting married. Then there’s usually at least one story of a distant relative who went off the deep end, and is now battling addiction. It really doesn’t take long to realize that your family does not resemble those iconic images painted by Norman Rockwell. In fact, the more you think about it, the more you realize your extended family is messed up.
Well, congratulations! You are in good company. I know we don’t often like to talk about it, and we certainly don’t want to share it with our church family—less they think we are not perfect. But the reality is most families are pretty messed up these days. We have families all around us (and maybe in our own homes) that are struggling with things like divorce, addiction, pride, materialism, worldliness, prison, child-support, etc… But again, let me remind you that you are not alone.
The book of Matthew was a book written by a Jew, to other Jews, about a special Jew. In the first chapter, Matthew gives the genealogy of Jesus Christ from Abraham all the way to Jesus’ father, Joseph. But take a minute and consider just a few of the individuals mentioned in that list:
- Abraham—a man who had extramarital relations with his wife’s handmaid, Hagar and lied about his wife being his sister.
- Isaac—a man who also lied and said his wife was his sister.
- Jacob—a man who stole the birthright from his brother Esau.
- Judah—a man who plots to kill his brother and sells him into slavery and has extramarital relations with his daughter-in-law Tamar.
- Rahab, wife to Salmon—a woman who was a Canaanite prostitute.
- King David—a man who committed adultery, plotted to have Bathsheba’s husband killed in battle, and did not train up his own children well.
- Solomon—a man who had multiple wives and eventually paid for it.
- Rehoboam—a man who was responsible for the divided kingdom.
- Uzziah—a man whose pride would eventually bring about leprosy and his own destruction.
- Ahaz—a man who the Bible records did not do right in the sight of God.
- Manasseh—a man who did evil in the sight of the Lord and rebuilt the high places for idol worship.
Friends, I don’t care how you look at it—that list is not very flattering. And this does not represent all of them. Nor does this list contain all of the sins that these individuals committed that we do not know about.
So why am I sharing with you the fact that Jesus came from a messed up family? Simply, to put your own life in perspective and help you realize that a messed up family is not the end of the world and it does not have to define you. The reality is we have all sinned, and most of us have some “colorful” members in our family. However, Jesus did not allow the sins of these individuals to define who He was or what He was able to accomplish with His life.
Got some baggage in your life? Let me ask you: Is that going to be what defines you? Or are you going to be defined by the blood of Christ. Your old self has been buried with Christ, and you have put on the new man (Colossians 3). Now it’s time to be defined by Him!