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Day 35 | Historic – Definition

Read Matthew 1

It’s easy to see a list of names in the Bible and simply skim until you hit the narrative again. Usually, at best, we think of reading the genealogies as something necessary to slog through. At worst, we don’t pay them much mind. I’m not saying you need to memorize who fathered whom and be able to recite it. But I want us to think about why Matthew begins his gospel with Jesus’ family tree before he tells you anything about Jesus Himself.

One of the things Matthew accomplishes here is grounding Jesus in a particular history. Jesus didn’t mystically appear as a baby out in the wilderness. He had a family history! Many of the people listed here are famous figures in the Old Testament who made significant contributions to the history of Israel. Matthew demonstrates how all of their contributions led up to the birth of Jesus. As Jesus was growing up in His humanity, He could look to His “predecessors” (in a sense) and learn from their example. He could learn about the faith of people like Abraham and Rahab and know they were part of His story. He could also learn about the failures of people like David, Solomon, and Rehoboam and not do what they did.

Similarly, the modern Church has a history it can look back on. Think about your own story of faith. Who led you into a relationship with God? Who led them? And before them? We all—individually and together—have a spiritual lineage we can learn from, both good examples and bad examples. We can read about much of it in the New Testament and see how our earliest “ancestors” handled situations very similar to the ones we find ourselves in today. But Church history doesn’t end with the book of Revelation! There are about 1900 years worth of Church history from the time the New Testament was written until today—and all of it led to you, right now, reading this devotional. The question is, will we learn from it?

Pray, giving thanks to God for all those who have come before you and have led you to faith.