The biblical Christmas tree; the Savior beckons
Believe it or not, there is a Christmas tree referred to in the Bible. In fact, it is so important that God uses 260 words to describe it. This tree described by God is not a pine or balsam, instead, it is a tree made up of flesh and blood – people – like you and me. It’s a family tree. Matthew 1:1-17 is the family tree of Jesus Christ. There are three talking portraits in this family tree.
The first portrait in this divine family tree tells us about God. It tells us that God keeps His word. “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren” (Matthew 1:2). Two thousand years before Jesus Christ, God called Abraham to journey to a new land, and He promised Abraham he would have descendents as numerous as the stars of Heaven (Genesis 15:5). God further promised that a great and mighty race would come from him. At the time God gave him these promises, Abraham was 80 years of age and his wife Sarah was 70 years of age and unable to bear children. God kept His word and Isaac was miraculously born 20 years later. Isaac, (as we read in Matthew 1:2), was the father of Jacob and Jacob fathered 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel, we know their descendents today as the Jewish race. That’s what Matthew 1:1-17 is all about, God keeping His word to Abraham in the coming of Jesus Christ. Don’t ever doubt it, God keeps His word! When God says, “I’ll save you through my Son, Jesus Christ,” He’ll keep His word. When God says, “I’ll forgive you when you confess and repent,” He’ll keep His word. God has said, “My Son will return!” Yes! Even so come Lord Jesus! God will keep His word.
The next portrait in this Divine family tree tells us about Jesus Christ. It reveals that Jesus Christ satisfies our deepest longings. We see this beginning in verse 1, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Our first glance at verse 1 causes us to realize that the birth order of David and Abraham is backwards. The rest of these genealogical names are in correct order, but Abraham lived nearly 1,000 years before David. Why then this order? If you read consecutively through Matthew’s Gospel you’ll find that Matthew continues to connect Jesus Christ with David, and David with Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:23, 15:22, 20:30). Matthew, as a Jew himself, knew God’s promise to David (2 Samuel 7) that the Messiah would be a descendent of David. So, Matthew links Jesus immediately with David to say “I am setting out to prove that Jesus Christ is the Son of David, the promised Messiah.” As the Messiah, He would supply the deepest needs of people’s lives. Indeed, Jesus came that we might have life, and not just existence, but life more abundantly (John 10:10). No one satisfies like Jesus. I’ve met some sorry Christians, but I have yet to meet someone who was sorry they were a Christian.
A third portrait on this Divine family tree tells us about ourselves. It relates that when we are at our lowest and worst, we can still be the recipients of God’s grace and mercy. This family tree consists of 42 men and five women. Mary, the mother of Jesus is listed, no surprise. But what about the other four?
Women had no legal rights in those days. A common prayer for a Jewish male was “God, I thank you that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” Our amazement rises when we remember who the four women were: Tamar (Genesis 38, a deliberate seducer), Rahab (Joshua 2, a harlot), Ruth (a Moabite, forbidden to enter the Lord’s congregation – see Deuteronomy 23:3), Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11, adultery with David). What is God trying to tell us by including women (these women) in the genealogy of Jesus Christ? Though you’ve led a dark life (like Tamar), though you’ve been a prostitute (like Rahab), though you were born and raised on the wrong side of the tracks (like Ruth), though you’ve had an affair (like Bathsheba), you can yet be a trophy of God’s amazing grace. Never forget, life’s setbacks can be God’s setups for great comebacks.
Would you be thrilled to wake up tomorrow and discover you were in the family tree of Bill Gates? Forget it. It’ll never happen. A greater than Bill Gates is here though, and He welcomes you into His family! (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)