By Scott Gunn
Today is all about beginnings. It’s a new year, and also the start of our great adventure reading the Bible. Even the texts set beginnings before us. Genesis famously opens with “In the beginning…” Chapters 1-2 tell the story of creation. Here we encounter a God who brings into being a world that is wholly good.
But humanity as we know it comes into being in Chapter 3. In the sixth verse, the newly created woman and man both eat forbidden fruit. The rest of the Bible is the story of God’s relentless love for a people who never quite manage to live as God intended. As you read the sweeping narrative of the Bible, it’s startling how many times and how many ways God reaches out to humanity in love.
Many Christians will regret what we now call “the Fall”, that time when humanity first sinned against God. But there is a medieval English carol about the Fall, which ends, “Blessed be the time / That apple taken was. / Therefore we may singen / Deogratias!” Why would we bless this disobedience? Because it is precisely our disobedience which brought about the need for our redemption through Jesus Christ. No apple, no Jesus.
And this brings us to Matthew. Chapter 1 is the genealogy of Jesus and his birth. It would be tempting to skip past the genealogy, but that would miss an important point. Even a casual glance at the list of names reveals what is for me an inspiring picture. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ was brought about through a rogue’s gallery of imperfect people. While Jesus himself did not sin, his forbearers certainly did.
If God can work through ordinary, flawed people to bring about extraordinary things, then God can work through us.
As you read the Bible, how do you see yourself in this vast, sweeping story of God’s love for humanity?
Look up a few people in the Matthew 1 genealogy (e.g. “the wife of Uriah”). What does it say about God and about us that God could use ordinary people to bring about the salvation of us all?
God of light and life, open my mind and my heart to your gracious love, and use me for your saving purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.