Jesus' Family Portrait for Christmas
The biblical account of the First Advent of Christ begins with a look at Jesus’ Family Portrait. And in His family tree the real meaning of Christmas is revealed. There aren’t very many bright lights on this family tree, and you’ll find a whole lot of knots and kinks in the line!
However, it’s a tree of grace and glory because it presents Jesus as the Rightful Sovereign and the only Savior of sinners.
A Portrait of a Sinful Race
All History is Written in Two Family Albums
The Bible is a historical book, our fall in Adam and redemption in Christ are historical events. Our faith is not based on myths and fables, but upon space-time historical events and accomplishments. All mankind’s history is written in one of two books – in Adam or in Christ.
The history of the Natural Man
In Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1-2, we learn that God created Adam in His image and after His likeness. This meant that man was made to be a picture, a visible expression of the invisible God. Man was originally designed with personality, spirituality, rationality, morality, authority, and creativity. Man was meant to be an expression of God’s person, and extension of His presence and an exhibition of his power.
Adam was the federal and seminal head of the human race. He represented us because we were in him as future offspring. We were fully and fairly represented by Adam.
Yet despite an ideal environment free from want and wickedness, Adam willfully and deliberately rebelled against God and lost it all.
What did Adam lose? He lost the likeness of God, the life of God, the leading of God, the liberty of God, and love for God. How lost is man? He is lost willingly, ignorantly, deceitfully, and helplessly. In his lostness he loves only one thing – himself!
Notice the shift in family resemblance as stated in Genesis 5:3: “When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” Adam fathered a son after his own likeness – fallen, defiled, frail, mortal – a sinner.
The cancer of sin, once injected into the human heart by Adam’s rebellious hand, metastasized and immediately defaced the moral image of God within man. It’s virus-like tendencies deformed man’s heart, deluded his mind, diseased his body, and subjected both he and his whole environment to death.
The Bible declares that all men by birth, as well as by choice are rebels against God’s government, robbers of God’s glory and rejecters of God’s grace. All mankind born since Adam have entered the world with a terminal, twisted birth defect. We are born sinners. The reason we are sinners is not because we sin but because we were born sinners! Being born in sin means that man is born spiritually dead. This means that he is born separated from or without a relationship with God. The result of this separation is guilt, fear, loneliness, a sense of alienation, loss of identity, frustration, and lack of purpose.
Admittedly, this is not a very flattering family portrait. But the good news of Christmas is that we can get in on another family album!
A Portrait of Sovereign Grace
The history of the New Man – Matthew 1:1: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
All history is written in the volumes of two men – The First Adam and the Last Adam (Jesus), but all hope is wrapped-up in one Baby boy!
The Old Testament, beginning in Genesis 5:1, contains the book of the generations of Adam and ends with a curse in Malachi 4:6. But the New Testament begins in Matthew 1:1 with the account of the book of the generations of Jesus Christ and ends with no curse in Revelation 22:3. Jesus birth is the Second Genesis, a new beginning, a new creation.
This family tree of Jesus’ human lineage is not at all flattering. No family trees are. One fellow, in filling out a form requiring a brief history of his family, was so embarrassed because his father had died in the electric chair wrote, “My father occupied for a brief period of time a chair in applied electricity in a state institution and then died.”
The Focus in Jesus’ Family Album is on Grace
If you study these names in detail, it’s almost as if God has pulled together a rogue’s gallery. Of the ones shown in Matthew’s Family Portrait of Jesus, nearly all of them had notable moral failures on their spiritual records. For instance, Abraham lied about his wife, Sarah. Isaac did the same thing. Jacob was a cheater, Judah a fornicator. David was an adulterer and Solomon was a polygamist. Manasseh was the evilest king Israel ever had. And on and on we could go.
(a) Grace is seen in the choice of one woman – Mt. 1:16 – A poor teenage girl named Mary.
(b) Grace is seen in the descendants of two men – Mt. 1:1 – The royal line of David and the racial line of Abraham.
(c) Grace is seen in the history of three eras – Mt. 1:17 – From Abraham to David; from David to the Babylonian exile; from the Exile to Christ.
The national genealogy of Jesus is one of mingled glory, pathos, heroism and disgrace, renown and obscurity. Israel rises, falls, and so apostatizes from God that they finally reject and crucify the Messiah that God sent to them. But God’s grace triumphs over their sin and salvation comes to the world.
(d) Grace is seen in the inclusion of four outcasts
Why any women? Why these women? Why not Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, etc.? Because the highlight is on the grace of God. The coming King was to be a King of grace and glory.
Tamar is in the Family Picture of Jesus although she acted like a prostitute – Mt. 1:3
Rahab was a Canaanite and a prostitute – Mt. 1:5
Ruth was a Moabite (The whole Moabite nation was the product of incest.) But she meets a mighty man of wealth from Bethlehem who took her for his bride and brought her into the royal line of King David and King Jesus!)
Bathsheba was an adulteress – Mt.1:6
What a picture! What a friend of sinners! What a Physician of the sin-sick, a Refresher of the weary and heavy laden, and the Proclaimer of Good News to the Poor.
The first two words of Matthew’s gospel are literally “Book of genesis”. The effect on a Jewish reader is comparable to that of John’s opening phrase, “In the beginning …” The theme of the fulfillment of Scripture is signaled from the very start, and these opening words suggest that a new creation is now taking place.
The new Genesis that Jesus initiated has made all who trust in him a “new creation (2 Cor 5:17.). On us is a new name (Rev 2:17); in us is a new song. But one day, time will be no more, and He who sits on the throne will say “Behold I make all things new (Rev 21:5). Then on us will be a new body, around us will be a New Jerusalem, under us will be a New Earth, and over us a New Heaven, and before us New revelations of the never ending glory of the Son of God. And we shall be like Him for we shall see him as he is. And the old, old story will be forever our new theme in glory!
O victory in Jesus my Savior forever! He sought me, and bought me, and brought me from guilt into grace and ultimately unto glory!
If God had a refrigerator, posted on it would be His dear Son’s Family Portrait, and if you looked close enough you would find me! Me – whose picture was formally in the album of a wanted criminal, but now, not based on my merits, but on His mercy, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, I’ve been born again and pictured in the Family Album of Jesus as a much wanted and loved son!
Whose family album is your history being written in? You couldn’t help being born in Adam, but you can be born-again into Christ Family Album. Turn to Christ. Trust Him alone for salvation. Treasure Him as the most precious Being in this universe and begin to see yourself in Jesus’ Big Forever Family Picture!