This is the first article in a new blog series that will focus on events in the life of Jesus Christ. The events will be presented in chronological order, drawing upon various scriptural accounts that describe each event.
As with other series, each blog article will share a little information about the event itself and will also include some type of life application that we can use in our service to God today.
God’s plan to send His Son into the world extends back to the creation of man. The unfolding of this plan is illustrated in the genealogy that is included in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38. The Matthew version begins at Abraham and proceeds through 42 generations to the birth of Jesus. The Luke version begins at Jesus and works backward, saying this one was the son of that one, and that one was the son of this other one, and so forth — all the way back to Adam, who it lists as the son of God. (So, the Son of God descends from the son of God!)
When looking over the genealogy, one name that pops out for me is Judah (spelled “Judas” in Matthew 1:3 and “Juda” in Luke 3:33). Regardless of how his name is spelled, Judah is one of the twelve sons of Jacob and therefore represents one of the twelve tribes of Israel, specifically the Jewish nation as we know it today. However, before we get too carried away with Judah’s importance, perhaps we should note two events in his life:
- In Genesis 37, Judah concocts a plan to sell his brother Joseph into slavery for 20 pieces of silver (Genesis 37:26-28).
- In Genesis 38, after Judah’s wife has died, he has sex with a woman who he thinks is a prostitute. However, it is actually his former daughter-in-law, and he impregnates her with twin sons (Genesis 38:15-30).
We can all agree that neither of the above actions would be pleasing to God. However, what happens later?
- After Joseph goes to Egypt, he eventually comes out of slavery (and out of prison) to be used by God to save Egypt and the surrounding areas (including where his family lives) from a deadly famine.
- Pharez, one of the twin sons born to Judah’s daughter-in-law, is used by God to continue the lineage that leads to Jesus Christ! If you look at the genealogy of Christ, there’s his name (spelled “Phares”), appearing alongside the other names in Matthew 1:3 and Luke 3:33.
Each of the above sinful actions resulted in great things happening. Obviously, God didn’t cause or want these sinful actions to occur. Just because the results were good, it didn’t make the actions any less sinful. But it is amazing how God can take a bad situation and have something good come out of it.
When Joseph was later recalling how his brothers sold him into slavery, he told them, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph was letting them know that their actions were indeed evil, but he was willing to let it go only because God used their evil actions to bring about a good outcome.
What can we learn from this?
Obviously, the lesson is not to lead a sinful life and just leave it up to God to accomplish good things from our sinful actions — as servants of God, we always need to do our best to live righteously. However, it’s good to know that we don’t have to be perfect to be used by God — He can use us in spite of our imperfections. And it’s good to know that God’s divine plans will be accomplished, regardless of how much evil is in the world. If necessary, God will even use the evil actions of those who oppose Him to bring about His desired outcome.
Can God use you and me to accomplish His great work today? Or are we too flawed?
Well, if God can use hateful men willing to kill their own brother to help save a nation, and if God can use a seductive woman to help continue the lineage that would bring forth His Son, I’m pretty sure He is capable of using us to accomplish His plans today, regardless of our perceived shortcomings.
You see, it’s not really about us — it’s about the power of God working through us. And that’s available to all servants of God, no matter how imperfect we may be.
This Series Continues on Feb.17
Next week, the Gospel Blog will not publish any new articles due to the church website redesign. Catch the next post in Brother Jerry’s series two weeks from today.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.
It should be noted that the genealogy listed in Matthew is that of Jesus’ step-father Joseph, but the genealogy listed in Luke is that of Jesus’ mother Mary–a very important distinction.
… or in other words, Jesus’ step-father, Joseph, was the son of a man named Jacob, and also the SON-IN-LAW of a man named Heli. Thus Mary the mother of Jesus was the daughter of Heli.