For Everyone

A good story has a compelling opening. Some of the best stories ever written have familiar first lines that, even if we’ve never read the book, we can quote by heart.

When we open the New Testament, at first glance it seems that Matthew didn’t get the memo about compelling beginnings. He starts off with a seemingly boring genealogy that most people skip over to get to the Christmas story. But when you look a bit closer, you see amazing threads of redemption woven in this dusty list of names.

Matthew was a tax collector; a Jew despised for selling out to the Romans and for cheating people out of their hard-earned money. Tax collectors were rejected, marginalized, considered “other,” and grouped in New Testament times with sinners, drunkards and prostitutes. Yet Jesus loved them. He sought them out, ate with them, and pointed to several of them as a model for repentance. He purposely pursued people who made poor choices.

So it’s fitting that Matthew’s version of the Christmas story begins with first looking backward to see who is included in Jesus’ genealogy. The Messiah’s family tree includes swindlers, murderers, adulterers and evil kings. Of the five women mentioned in this list, three of them were foreigners and every one of their stories included some sort of sexual scandal.

As he sets the stage for the introduction of the Savior of the world, Matthew is making it clear. The Christ child didn’t come into the world for the people who have it all together, who never make a mistake or who have a shiny backstory. He came for the broken. He came for the imperfect. He came for the outcasts. For the marginalized and “other.” For those with scandal in their past. For those who feel like they never measure up. For the anxious, the lonely, the addicted, the depressed. For you and for me. For everyone.

Read Matthew 1:1-17

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Good stuff, right?!

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