Leviticus 21:7, 13-15
Scripture tells us that Jesus will come for all the faithful; that is, those who have believed in God's only begotten Son and who have truly repented of their sins.
It's as we are told in the preparation verses for this morning, Romans 8:16-17,
16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17. and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
and also in the following verses (Galatians 4:4-7):
4. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,
5. in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
7. Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
Some people don't see the absolute grace and mercy of God in these passages.
What more could anyone want than to be a son or daughter of God, to be forgiven by God as loving parents forgive their children.
But some people build more into God's way of dealing with us than actually exists.
We are told here that Jesus was born of Mary according to the Law; and according to the Law, Mary was to be cleansed of her sins.
Thus, Mary could not have been sinless, as some would have us believe.
She was just one of the truly faithful, one of those who was adopted as a daughter, and nothing more.
True, she was given a very special task to perform, and she was faithful to perform it; but to conclude from this that she was some special being is beyond the way God deals with any of us.
To conclude more, is to diminish God's grace.
And before we move on, let's not forget that something else takes place within the hearts and souls of sons or children of God; they become peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
9. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [children] of God.
I have never found anywhere in the Bible where we are told that a true son or daughter of God was not also a peacemaker, and a peacemaker to the whole of creation.
So, we need to consider to the very depths of our hearts and souls the problems that exist among the so-called faithful who are not peacemakers, and why Jesus equates peacemakers with being the children of God.
And we need to consider who we are in this equation.
And as we're considering these things, let's also consider that fact that peacemakers naturally extend God's love and grace to the people, and the world around them.
Let's now take a look at Matthew 1:1-25, the passages that lead up to the birth of Jesus.
But note how Matthew leads us there, through a series of genealogies.
Why does he do this?
Let's take a closer look.
1. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2. To Abraham was born Isaac; and to Isaac, Jacob; and to Jacob, Judah and his brothers;
Remember that Abraham came from a family of idol worshippers; remember that he lied about his wife being his sister, but he changed his ways and was useful to God, as an adopted son.
And did not Isaac also lie about his wife being his sister? Yet he served God.
And was not Jacob a deceiver? Yet he returned to serve God, too.
And what about Judah?
3. and to Judah were born Perez and Zerah by Tamar; and to Perez was born Hezron; and to Hezron, Ram;
And who was Tamar?
She was Judah's daughter-in-law.
She and Judah had an incestuous relationship, yet he and Perez are considered worthy to be in the lineage of Jesus.
4. and to Ram was born Amminadab; and to Amminadab, Nahshon; and to Nahshon, Salmon;
5. and to Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab; and to Boaz was born Obed by Ruth; and to Obed, Jesse;
6. and to Jesse was born David the king.
Let's stop here again, for a minute, and consider who these people are and what that relationship does in the genealogy leading to Jesus.
Who was Rahab?
She was the prostitute of Jericho, but she came to believe in God.
Now keep in mind what these ancestors of Jesus were like, and listen to what we are told in Hebrews 5:9-10.
9. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
10. being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Jesus was perfect and designated as a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, which is a higher order than the Levitical priesthood.
And what does it say about the Levitical priests?
Note what we are told in Leviticus 21:7:
7. 'They shall not take a woman who is profaned by harlotry, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God.
Yet by the grace of God, in Jesus' ancestry is a woman of harlotry.
But there is more. Note the verses of Leviticus 13-15:
13. ‘And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
14. ‘A widow, or a divorced woman, or one who is profaned by harlotry, these he may not take; but rather he is to marry a virgin of his own people;
15. that he may not profane his offspring among his people: for I am the Lord who sanctifies him.’ ”
It says here that if you bring such a person into the line of the priesthood, you not only profane yourself but also your offspring, your children.
Thus, God is showing us that by His love and grace, even that which is defiled can become acceptable to Him, which includes all of us, if we decide to accept His offer.
And remember that Rahab, besides being a prostitute, was also of a foreign people.
This brings us to Ruth.
Who was she?
She was a Moabitess.
Moab was the son of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughter, after Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt.
The Moabites hindered Israel's entrance into the promised land, and were thus under the curse.
Note what we are told in Deuteronomy 23:3-4:
3. "No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord,
4. because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.
They cannot enter the assembly even to the tenth generation, and this occurred during the lifetime of Salmon; yet Ruth entered the assembly only two generations later.
Now let's go back and pick up the genealogy in the second part of Matthew 1:6:
And to David was born Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah;
Bathsheba and David had an adulterous affair, and then to try to cover it up, David had Uriah killed.
And yet Jesus is considered the son of David, a murderer, though a repentant one.
7. and to Solomon was born Rehoboam; and to Rehoboam, Abijah; and to Abijah, Asa;
8. and to Asa was born Jehoshaphat; and to Jehoshaphat, Joram; and to Joram, Uzziah;
9. and to Uzziah was born Jotham; and to Jotham, Ahaz; and to Ahaz, Hezekiah;
10. and to Hezekiah was born Manasseh; and to Manasseh, Amon; and to Amon, Josiah;
11. and to Josiah were born Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
Of all these kings, only a few served God wholeheartedly; most served other so-called gods, and yet, they are still in the genealogy of Jesus.
12. And after the deportation to Babylon, to Jeconiah was born Shealtiel; and to Shealtiel, Zerubbabel;
13. and to Zerubbabel was born Abiud; and to Abiud, Eliakim; and to Eliakim, Azor;
14. and to Azor was born Zadok; and to Zadok, Achim; and to Achim, Eliud;
15. and to Eliud was born Eleazar; and to Eleazar, Matthan; and to Matthan, Jacob;
16. and to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17. Therefore all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the time of Christ fourteen generations.
Jesus sure has a lot of sinners in His family tree, doesn't He?
But why would God want us to know about all these evil things in His Son's lineage?
Because of His love and grace, for if He would accept these people into His family, surely there is room for His adopted brothers and sisters, such as us, if we have repented of our own sins and received His offer of forgiveness.
18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
Even the outward appearance of the situations surrounding the conception of Jesus would appear as being evil, even though they were not.
Initially, even Joseph thought Mary had done something wrong.
19. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.
20. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21. "And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins."
22. Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying,
23. "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel," which translated means, " God with us."
24. And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife,
25. and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
This is true love and grace, for even Jesus was born with the animals, and not in a house of royalty, not even an inn, but in a stable.
How much more humbling could our God be to us, than to show us in this way, that no matter who we are, we can become acceptable.
Is there room for Jesus in your heart?
If there isn't, remove the sins and junk that prevent His entry, and in the process make room for Him by removing those things that prevent us from becoming peacemaking children of God.
Make room for Him, and His Father who is in heaven will make room for you.
O come, all ye faithful, and truly have a merry Christmas and every day to follow.
For salvation has come to us.
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