Have you done a DNA study to find out your heritage? It seems like many people in the last few years have sent their spit to Ancestry.com to find out if they are 1/4 Anglo, 1/4 Japanese, 1/8 Brazilian, 1/32 Scandinavian and who knows what else. It is pretty wild they can tell you all of that.

My co-workers told me that your genetic code is also being sent to some place in Asia where they are trying to clone you or other weird stuff like that. I don’t know about that, but I do know this: Whatever your genetic makeup is, we all share a common trait that has been passed down. We are all completely flawed humans who have been tainted by the power of sin. It doesn’t matter the tribe, tongue, nation or continent from which you have derived, we all have inherited the power of sin that has broken our hearts and separated us from God.

So it is interesting that the Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ — his family tree. The book begins with these words, “This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Jesus’ lineage then starts with Abraham, the great Old Testament patriarch and traces 42 generations later until the arrival of Jesus Christ. It is just name after name of fathers and sons. There are many of the Old Testament kings of Israel listed as well as several of the prominent women in the OT – Ruth, Bathsheba and Rahab.

Why would God open the New Testament in this fashion with just a list of all of these names? First of all, it points to the historical reality of Jesus Christ. It is easy for some to dismiss Jesus as a mythical person or figure, but he actually lived in history and was a part of an actual human family and lineage. The New Testament writers fully believed He was the divine son of God but fully connect him to history.

The genealogy also shows us how God lines up all of history to perform His will. There are 42 generations listed reaching a span of more than 1500 years. God originally made a promise to Abraham that the Lord would bring great blessing to the world through his servant. This family tree shows how God has moved and worked throughout history to ultimately bring about His promised blessing through Jesus Christ. There are good godly people in this list and there are some very wicked and rebellious people included. Nothing, however, can hinder God from bringing about his purposes.

Last of all, the genealogy of Jesus shows us that family dysfunction and sin do not have to hold you back. I hope all of us can be thankful for our parents and families, but the truth for many is that they may have experienced a lot of pain and resentment growing up. Maybe you came from a very dysfunctional family and your family tree is full of addiction, secrets, abuse, anger, bitterness, unfaithfulness, dishonesty and more.

The sinful dynamics of one’s family are not always easy to overcome. I meet people all the time who are held back by their past. The dysfunction can be like a cloud that hangs over them. As one person said, “I am not stuck. I am just ancestrally challenged.” In Exodus 20, God declared that He the sins of the fathers would visit his children to the 3rd and 4th generation. God is letting us know that a lot of our family baggage has spiritual roots. We are all accountable for our own personal lives, but our forefathers certainly set up spiritual dynamics that can leave an impact upon us. I have seen addictions passed on from one generation to the next. I have seen bitterness fester in families. God wants us to pass on blessings and not curses like this.

The good news is that Jesus Christ has come to break off the curse and dysfunction of the past, and help us start a new legacy. Jesus’ family tree was filled with some very questionable, evil and dysfunctional people. They were not all good guys. Even Jesus did not have the perfect family tree, and yet when He showed up it all changed. The past no longer mattered, because He can make all things new. Do you need Christ to redeem your past, to give you a new start? When he shows up in your life, He can give you a new beginning free from the bondage of the past. And that’s the Word.

The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at david@sscommunitychurch.org or 634-2960.

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