Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph, son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai, son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda, son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Neri, son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er, son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim, son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David, son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Sala, son of Nahshon, son of Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni, son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor, son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah, son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech, son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleel, son of Cainan, son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.
This is one of those passages you dread being given to read in church.
Alternatively, this is one of those passages you relish giving to someone to read when you want your revenge.
All those names! Not a full-stop in sight until you get to the very end. It’s a minefield. But what names! There they are: some we recognise, some we don’t, but tucked away in the genealogy of Jesus are the stories we have been reading and reflecting on in these Devotions – such celebrities, such heroes of the faith, all bearing testimony to the extraordinary experience of humanity’s experience of God’s grace, over-arching our lives like Noah’s rainbow. There they are: Joseph the carpenter, David the king, Jesse the father, Boaz the loving husband of Ruth, Judah the brother of another Joseph and the son of Jacob whose name became Israel, Abraham, Noah, Methuselah who lived for centuries and Enoch who walked with God, and at the end Adam, our ancestor who was son of God. The whole amazing story wrapped up in a list of names. It’s humbling to read it and reflect that you and I have a place in it. It is the story of the family of the God whom Jesus called “Father”.
There are omissions, of course: it’s all men; there’s no Marys or Elizabeth, no Ruth or Rachel or Sarah, no Miriam or Deborah – but men are notoriously bad at making lists, and you can be sure that this was a man’s list. Whether his name was Luke or not doesn’t really matter. It is the knowledge that we are all children of God which matters, and share that one same story which runs through all our experience. It is the story of our homeward pilgrimage back to the Creator’s love.
Loving God, teach us to fear not, for you have called us by name, and we are yours. When we pass through the waters you will be with us, when we walk through the fire, we shall not be burned, for you are the Lord our God, and we are created for your glory. Amen
The Rev’d Peter Moth, retired minister Northern Synod, St Andrew’s URC Kenton, Newcastle upon Tyne
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