If you don’t skip over the genealogy of Jesus that Matthew provides in his gospel you’ll find that there are some, how shall we put it…, unsavory characters listed. If you take the time to research some of the names and see the roles they played in the Story, you learn that they were definitely not perfect human beings. Frankly, there are some things that were done by people on the list that any self respecting family would be ashamed of. As I read these passages this morning I was greatly encouraged. I don’t know about you, but there have been many unsavory characters in my life. And if I’m honest, the most unsavory of all is me. We all look back over our lives and have to admit we’ve been involved in some shady dealings. We wonder at times if God is really working in us and if so, why? Why would the Creator of the universe bother with someone like me, a flawed, weak, unsavory character? Can he really use someone with a past like mine? Is there really some kind of method to the madness that has been my life?
Fortunately for us, the Bible teaches us that God sincerely loves us and works all things “after the counsel of his will.” In other words, he has a loving plan. In the case of the lineage of Jesus, we see God at work in imperfect people, through events that seem horrible and tragic, to bring about the birth of Christ. We also get a hint of God’s precision and intention when Matthew writes, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” And I’m convinced the Lord is just as committed, intentional, and precise when it comes to our lives!
All of our mistakes, all the pain, our personal failure, even our past can be used by God (is used by God) to accomplish his will in our lives. We don’t condone our sin with an “Oh well, God’s at work anyway.” attitude, but we can rejoice that through it all (even before we were aware of it), God has been at work to bring us to himself. And we know that he is faithful to complete what he has begun in us. With such assurance and hope, we have confidence to come to him and be empowered by his grace so that we can live in a way that is pleasing to him, willfully joining him as he unfolds the kind intentions he had towards us in Christ before the world began. Talk about hope! Talk about freedom! Talk about purpose!
So if there are any unsavory characters like me reading this, come to Jesus and watch God make something glorious out of your life.