One of the things I find most interesting (and important) in Matthew and Luke’s accounts of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus is that both of them include genealogies. Many see genealogies in the Bible as something tedious or “boring” that should be skipped over. However, they are important for a number of reasons.
Genealogies point to the fact that God had planned for the incarnation of Jesus since before creation (Rev. 13:8) and to how He is fulfilling the promises connected to the Messiah, such as being a part of the lineage of David (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Rev. 22:16). Both genealogies demonstrate that Jesus is a descendant of David—by adoption through his legal father Joseph (Matthew’s genealogy) and by blood through his mother Mary (Luke’s genealogy).
One of the most striking things to me, however, about the significance of the genealogies is that they demonstrate who Jesus is and what He did as historical fact. The narrative of Jesus’ birth, and subsequently his life, death and resurrection, is not metaphorical. It really happened.
This is important because the Gospel writers, in recording the nature and events of Jesus’ birth, are not giving us some allegorical fable advising us to live out some moral truth. Rather, they are telling us, as the angel in Luke 2:10 phrased it, “Good News” of what God has done.
Tim Keller insightfully speaks to this in his book “Hidden Christmas.”
“Advice is counsel about what you must do,” Keller wrote. “News is a report about what has already been done. Advice urges you to make something happen. News urges you to recognize something that has already happened and to respond to it. Advice says it is all up to you to act. News says someone else has acted.”
A helpful illustration from Keller is to think of a town that has an invading army coming toward it. That town needs advice from experts— where to build fortifications, trenches and placement of weapons.
However, if a great king has intercepted and defeated the invading army, what does the town need then? It doesn’t need military advisers; it needs messengers (incidentally the Greek word for messengers is “angelos”). The messengers do not say, “Here is what you need to do.” Instead, they say, “I bring you glad tidings of great joy.” In other words, “Stop fleeing. Stop building fortifications. Stop trying to save yourselves. The King has saved you.” Something has been done, and it changes everything.
Indeed, the birth of Jesus changes everything. Other religions frame salvation in terms of advice—these are the things you must do to find salvation. But Christianity views salvation as news— God has sent Jesus to do for you what you could not do for yourself. I am so grateful for the genealogies of Jesus which remind us of that historical event long ago when Jesus came to earth to do on our behalf what we could never do for ourselves.
I pray you and your family have a wonderful and blessed Christmas focused on Jesus Christ, the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2)!