"Ko te pukapuka o te whakapapa o Ihu Karaiti, tama a Rawiri, tama a Aperahama".
"This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham..."
Jesus’ genealogy is a mess. A genealogy in a first century middle eastern context acted a lot like a CV does for us today.
Four of the women in Jesus’ CV are tainted by sexual mess.
Each historical era is filled with human messiness.
The first era is the 750 years from Abraham to King David.
The second is the 400 years from King David to the deportation to Babylon.
The third era is 600 years from the deportation to Babylon to Jesus' birth.
Spiritual mess is evident in the occultic practices of King Manasseh.
The moral and sexual mess of men is evident in Judah's desire for prostitutes, and David's abuse of Bathsheba.
To staunch first century Jews, Jesus' genealogy is filled with ethnic mess.
Four of the women are arguably non-Jews. Tamar and Rahab are Canaanites; Ruth is a Moabite; and Bathsheba may be a Hittite, at least by marriage.
In the middle of this mess, God’s grace works to send us his Son.
The grace of God that would bless an aging Abraham and Sarah with offspring;
The grace of God that uses a tormented Tamar;
The grace of God that rejoices in a Rahab;
The grace of God that revels in a Ruth;
The grace of God that is a balm to Bathsheba;
The grace of God that delivers King David;
The grace of God that is a marvel to Mary.
This grace comes to you and says to all outsiders everywhere:
"You are outsiders. You may be sinful and lost, but in and through trusting God’s son Jesus you are equally loved and accepted".
Sam Guthrie writes: "Bryan Stevenson, an author and lawyer who works with the incarcerated, often says: 'You are more than the worst thing you’ve ever done'".
At the end of this family tree the Saviour's birth proclaims the sentiment in its truest form: 'You are more than the worst thing you have ever done. Your sin is great, but God’s love for you is greater still'.
I cannot explain how grateful I am that in the messiness of my own whakapapa, in the messiness of my heart and life, that God’s grace floods in through Jesus.
That in God’s grace to us Jesus came as a baby then, he now sits at the right hand of the Father, and his Spirit dwells within us.