How many of you have some branches in your family tree you’d like to lop off? When people talk about their family trees, some of the bad ones are glossed over. Grandpa Bob, and his dad Bill, and *mumble mumble* and her dad, John the Preacher, and his dad, Vito who *mumble mumble* and his…oh nevermind, and John the Preacher’s Uncle, Paulo…You just don’t include some of the notorious ones in the tree. Let me show you a family tree you might be familiar with.
Back in the Day (waaaayyyy back) this Jewish guy had a wife who was a Canaanite. This was a BIG no no. You were never supposed to marry outside the religion, and the Canaanites were worshiping Baal at that time. (Baal is where we get Beelzebub. Nasty character!) He had 3 boys, and when the oldest was of age, he went to get him a wife. She was also not Jewish. Another uh oh. So they were married, but he was evil and so God let him die. The custom was to have the brother take the wife and give her children so she wouldn’t be destitute and the dead brother’s name wouldn’t disappear from the family tree. The brother didn’t like his dead brother so he didn’t, and so God let HIM die. Now the Dad was worried about his 3rd boy. He told the widow to go live with her dad until the kid was old enough, but he went back on his word. So now she’s desperate: no husband, no kids. She finds out that he’s going to be in the area and sits at the gate with her face covered. Of course, since the dad’s wife had died, he thought it would be OK to take a prostitute. He offered to pay her a goat, and she asked for his seal and its cord and his staff until he could get her the goat. So he gave them to her. He sends the goat, but she doesn’t collect it. The servant can’t find her, so he goes back home. She gets pregnant, and of course someone says, “Your Daughter in law is Pregnant! And she’s a WIDOW, so she’s been prostituting herself and bringing shame on you!” Of course, in righteous indignation he commands that she should be judged and burned. She shows us and says she’s pregnant by the guy whose staff and seal she has. Uh Oh. She gave birth to twins.
Then there was the spy who snuck the Jewish reconnaissance team down the wall out her window in Jericho. Oh, yes, and she was a prostitute. She married into the Jewish community (which was an uh oh as she was also a Canaanite.)
Then there was the Moabite woman who married into the family. Moabites worshiped a god that demanded human sacrifice. Some believed they could see the future if they threw their babies into the fire.
Then there was the Jewish King that although He was married, and he had at least 7 wives, he saw this pretty lady taking a bath one afternoon. Now he was nowhere near where he was supposed to be. He was the King, and should have been in the field with his army. But he wasn’t. And women didn’t bathe in the afternoon, they bathed at night. So…NATURALLY he wanted to be with her and sent inquiries out. The Private Eye came back saying she was Married to another Non-Jewish soldier who fought for Israel. Hint Hint…Not Jewish, Married. Really. Don’t go there. But he did. Jewish Law says 1 wife to 1 husband. He didn’t consider those other wives REAL wives, however. They were surety for treaties with surrounding territories. Well, the pretty lady got pregnant of course, but her husband was in the field. King Doofus decided to try and cover it up and it didn’t work, so he had the husband moved to the front lines where he was killed.
Then there was this other Jewish king. He was supposedly the wisest king ever. Ooooops. He broke EVERY commandment! He had not 1, not 7, but 700 wives. He worshiped other gods. He turned his back on his religion and did a lot of really unwise things.
His sons split the kingdom in 1/2. His grandson spent so much time killing people, they thought the streets in Jerusalem were supposed to be red. He wasn’t picky about whether people deserved death either. In modern times, he’d be addicted to Walking Dead or Halo or Final Fantasy.
Here’s the thing. All these horrible people were in the SAME FAMILY TREE! The fact is: if you look at the ENTIRE tree, there’s not a single one that would qualify for the man/woman of the year. Whose family tree is it? Oh, that would be Jesus.
Now if you study psychology, you understand that if you’ve got really heinous family, you don’t turn out so well. But here’s Jesus. No one could ever point to one thing he did and say it was sinful. Not once. They might have implied he was crazy…
What can we learn from this? Don’t lop off the branches. Here is this perfect guy, sinless, compassionate, patient, loving, and he hung around with awful people–traitors (tax collectors were Jewish people that worked for the Romans after all!) prostitutes, Romans, and *gasp* Samaritans. The fine upstanding citizens of his time were sure they didn’t fit into any of those categories. They KNEW the law. The thing is, the law basically shows you how short you come to perfection. It is meant as a measure to reveal how sinful you are. A white lie is still a lie. Career murder is still murder. Phone sex is still adultery. If you have grown up where murder is ok and no one tells the truth, and marriage is a piece of paper and not a commitment, and you do those things, you’re ignorant of the law. But if you know the law and you do those things anyway, That’s the sin. That puts fine upstanding citizens in the same category as serial killers and prostitutes.
Here is this Jesus that could count mass murderers and kings among his family willing and able to save them from eternal destruction, won’t he also extend this to everyone? Of course. There is a catch though…you have to believe to receive the grace. You have to admit you need saving and that only Jesus can save you. You have to admit you’re a sinner. No one wants to admit that. They believe in RELATIVE piety. I haven’t killed anyone, so far, this morning, I think…*checks watch* You’re not lined up on the severity of your transgressions; you are either pure or not. If you have a tiny Koolaid stain on your white shirt, it’s still dirty, and it needs to be washed. But Jesus had 2 family trees. One embarrassingly human and the stuff of legend, and the other divine and perfect. We get adopted into his heavenly family tree. Much better!!
The moral is this: If you lop off the embarrassing, disappointing, dumb, dangerous, loser-branches in your family tree, you might be sawing the branch you are sitting on. This is what’s cool about the bible. In this holy book, ALL the characters are messed up. It’s not a fairy tail where all the good guys do only good things. You won’t find that in very many holy books! So put your saw down, come out of your family tree, and be thankful that a guy with the heavenly family tree has come to save you.