Articles

Skeletons At The Family Reunion

ReDiscovered Word

(Matthew 1)

Every family has skeletons in the closet. They even lurk at your family reunions. Whether you know it or not, your genealogy includes the names of men and women who were conceived through inconceivable acts of darkness.

If you stare too long at your own family tree, if you go back far enough, you’re bound to find rape, incest, adultery, and fornication. The truth is ugly, but it is the truth nonetheless. There’s no such thing as genealogical purity. We may gradually forget the stories of our ancestors, but we never escape their legacy of sin, apart from the intervening grace of God.

No family is exempt from these tales of tragedy.

Consider for a moment the story of a young woman, made pregnant through incest, carrying the child of her own father-in-law. It’s an ugly story, the kind that we ignore or even try to purge from the pages of our family history. We don’t talk about stories like that at family reunions. Tales of our great-grandfather’s violence and lust don’t settle well with our barbecued brisket.

Or consider the story of another young woman, seduced — maybe even coerced — into adultery with a man twice her age, a man whose power and reputation in her community would have made refusal difficult to say the least. She finds herself pregnant, carrying a child conceived in shame. Determined to cover his tracks, her powerful and violent lover kills her first husband and the two of them marry. Violence and lust haunt their descendants for generations to come.

As you probably know by now, those are the stories of Tamar and Bathsheba, two of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. Even the Son of God was not exempt from the dark family history we all share.

Stories like these are ones we would rather keep in the dark. And yet the Bible drags them into the light.

They’re the sort of stories that some people want to end before they begin, often by snuffing out the lives of the inconvenient children caught at the center of such drama. And yet God doesn’t end these stories. He uses them to write a better story.

God, in His wisdom and power, weaves even the worst parts of our family histories into the tapestry of His giant story of grace. He doesn’t hide our evil. He overcomes our evil with good.

Reading the names of those included in Jesus’ genealogy, one cannot help but feel that God’s Word is making a powerful point. The most shameful family background is no match for the strength of God’s grace.

No story is beyond redemption. No life is without value. No child is bereft of all hope.

Every family has its skeletons, but God specializes in raising the dead to life. Everyone’s story is littered with darkness, but our darkness will one day be swallowed up in His light.

He’s already written a new story for us, a story of grace and victory and life. It’s a story to tell the world.

It’s a story you can even talk about at the next family reunion.

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