Lenten Day 3: The Family Tree of Jesus.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 3: 23-38 (MsgB)

When Jesus entered public life He was about thirty years old, the son (in public perception) of Joseph, who was—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.

Ahh, yes. The family tree of Jesus.

Or so it was assumed. The long shopping list of hard to pronounce names. 77 generations. Differing a bit from Matthew’s list, many believe Luke was much more interested in re-affirming Jesus’ lineage with King David and Abraham then actually giving his readers an accurate name-by-name account of 77 names. But despite the differences, still, an impressive list that helps us trace Israel’s long heritage across what many guess to be approximately five thousand years.

I don’t know if you’ve ever done much exploration with your family tree. About 15 years ago, I decided to take the papers and materials that my dad had in his possession and try to sort out for myself my Boller family tree.

When my dad died back in 1994, he left a big stack of pictures, papers, and hand-scribbled notes. And while my dad and mom had spoken a lot about our family backgrounds over the years, my brother and I just never paid that much attention. My mom died in 1991 and when dad died in 1994, I suddenly wished I had paid much more attention to their stories and musings about family long gone.

It seems that something interesting happens to a person when your father and mother pass on. Suddenly you are now thrust into the lead role and whether you like it or not, you are now the family historian.

So now that I was the appointed one, I figured I better investigate my Boller heritage, just in case someday, one of my kids or grandkids wanted to know where they came from.

Thank goodness for the internet. Without it, I don’t think I could have figured out some of the chicken scratches and odds and ends my dad had accumulated over the years. But with the help of some wonderful people I stumbled upon out there in cyberspace, I eventually pieced together a pretty complete history of eight generations of Bollers dating back to the first Boller in our family to come to America from Bavaria (Germany) in 1816.

I know in Hebrew tradition, the tracing of family lineage was absolutely vital to the life of the family. It’s likely that Jesus, Himself, could have spouted off the 70+ generations of His earthly dad’s family tree. To a first-century Jew, living in a land that was oppressed and controlled by foreign powers, the ability to chart your lineage back to King David and Father Abraham would be a vital link for survival.

These Hebrew family trees were a lifeline to the past. And if your family tree confirmed that you were personally linked to all God had done in Israel’s past, then it also meant that you were grafted into the lifeline of God’s promises for the future.

It’s too bad that we westerners have lost touch with the power of family connections.

I’m so glad, for example, that I’ve uncovered the few sketchy details of my great, great, great grandfather, George F. Boller and how he was caught up in the westward movement from what is today Mainz, Germany, making his way to the heartlands of America, escaping the religious oppression of Napoleon’s surge of power across Europe. Oh, how I would love to have even more details on what it looked and felt like to arrive in America at the turn of the 19thcentury.

Alas, to our own disadvantage, we just don’t pay that much attention when our parents and grandparents are telling their stories. As a result, we lose a lot of the rich family history, forgetting our past, and thus letting important life stories fall into the dust of time.

But, praise God, Luke and others in the days of Jesus, took the extra time to listen and write of the history that had gone before them. Thanks to these early followers of Christ, we now have reliable accounts that make the life and times of Jesus come alive for countless generations that follow!

My prayer: Thank You, God, for the reminder of how everything You do is done in the full context of family. While we tend to see ourselves as independent individuals, You see our lives as being fully interconnected with those who have gone before us and those yet to come. To You, family matters. With the help of the Spirit, empower me to live my life knowing that my life is both an extension of those who’ve gone before me and a hope and promise for future generations to come, for Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: So how do I need to get a bigger picture of how my life fits into God’s bigger story for my family? Am I aware of the significance my life has in relation to the larger work of God going on throughout my family? How have past generations affected me? How might my life influence future generations? Am I living in such a way that both honors the past and hopes for the future?

So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?

Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use. 

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!

Click here to go onto the next Lenten session…

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