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What do a prostitute, a foreigner, and a shepherd have in common?
They are all ancestors of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:2-16)
Think about it: God could have picked anyone to form the lineage of his son. He could have chosen a Jewish family- someone whose men were priests or authoritative figures in the temple. He could have chosen a wealthy family- someone whose tithe and offering gifts surpassed the majority of what others were giving. Maybe he would choose a farming family- built on years of hard work and commitment to the fields. He didn't. Instead, he worked with a lineage that was pieced together in the most unusual way. He came from the line of King David- a king who was a shepherd. A king who had a family history which included a prostitute named Rahab and a foreigner named Ruth (who married Boaz).
Why did God do this? With a world full of options he chose people society wouldn't expect? People society might not even notice?
God wanted us to see that he uses imperfect people to bring on his plan of perfection. He takes what is broken and makes it new. He transforms a humble shepherd boy into the world's most loved king. He gives a foreign widow a family. He protects a prostitute. The book of Matthew begins by proving to us that A) Jesus is a fulfillment of prophecy out of the lineage of David (the seed of Abraham) and B) Jesus's genealogy is full of misfits and sinners.
With such a less-than-average family line and entrance into the world, how was anyone supposed to recognize Jesus's authority? The Jewish community was looking for a king, but Jesus was born into anything but royalty. We must recognize that God was thoughtful- he had a plan all along. He provided the world with prophecies. God's prophecy held such specific and unique details that though Jesus did not come as expected, he could be realized by those who had studied what had been predicted.
The Magi found him.
Before many a king, priest, or teacher discovered Jesus's birth, God allowed these scholars to see a star and come worship (Matthew 2:1-12). If you know much about history, this is a bit of a shock. The Magi were not Jewish people. They likely did not participate in the customs, traditions, or rituals of Jewish culture. How did they receive such favor from God that they were allowed to see the Messiah face-to-face?
The answer is simple: they believed.
They read the prophecies for themselves and they had faith. Perhaps they didn't know of every "rule and regulation" that God desired them to follow, but God still let them come. He still let them see. They took the time to learn what they could about Jesus. They put in the effort to the best of their ability to know God- and in return, they saw God. They met the most powerful man who ever has and ever will walk the face of the earth.
What can we learn from this? Was it just a coincidence that the Magi were granted such an honor? No, I don't believe so. It was their faith that qualified them. It can be the same for you. It isn't the church you attend, the place you live, or your family history that allows you to be of importance or in favor with God. It is your heart- your desire or craving to know him that opens up endless possibilities in your life.
What are you doing with your time? What are you passionate about? Perhaps you have a lot of questions about God but the hundreds of religions in the world overwhelm you. There are so many! How can you possibly sort it all out? On top of all the doubt you may have you might also point out that the Magi had a prophecy to cling to and study. What do we have now in a world where so much bad takes place and God is seemingly silent and invisible?
Our modern-day prophecy is in the Bible. It is the Bible.
We must embrace our questions and our discomfort about God and what is really going on in the world. We must feed our curiosity and make an intentional habit of diving into God's Word. Just like the Magi took the time to study prophecy we too are called to study the Bible. Sometimes we won't want to do it, or maybe we won't find the answers we want, but the more you read the Bible the more you discover it isn't about finding the answers... it is about the journey. It is about your intentions to know God and love others. It is when we spend time earnestly seeking God that we find his favor- the revelation of what meaning and purpose our lives have.
If you are looking to read the Bible for the first time or maybe you have neglected Bible reading and want to do a restart, keep reading along with my series through the gospels! Follow me on Facebook or Instagram for updates on when I post.