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Advent: Day Fourteen

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).—Matthew 1:22-23

The story behind Jesus’ genealogy is telling us something. These women—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary—are shouting to us through their stories. They’re pointing to the way God sovereignly orchestrated history to bring Jesus to Bethlehem for all of us, and they’re pointing to what Jesus actually came to do. They’re telling us something that is scandalous.

The women of Christmas are talking about the scandal of sinners forgiven, of foreigners made family, and of the dirty washed clean. But the most scandalous part of this whole thing is the scandal of Jesus identifying with us and that we get to identify with Him. Jesus identifies with us.

The incarnation is the most mind-blowing thing that has ever happened. It baffles theologians. More ink has been spilled on the incarnation than on anything else, and it’s still full of mystery and wonder. Through the incarnation, Jesus added to Himself what He was not, without ceasing to be God. It means Jesus shares in our humanity. He shares in our weakness, our frailty, our limitations. Though Jesus is the one person who never sinned, He bore our sin and so identified with our sin that it was counted as His. Jesus shares in our common suffering as human beings.

The scandal of Jesus coming to identify with us leads to something that is, indeed, mind-blowing: To become a Christian is to have Jesus’ beauty clothe you, change you, and fill you. It means the Father’s delight in his Son becomes the Father’s delight in you. To identify with Jesus in His death means that your “old man” who deserved the curse is done. To identify with Jesus in His resurrection means that death can’t touch you. It means that sin doesn’t get the last word on you, that your body’s frailty doesn’t get the last word on you. It means that God gets the last word on you, because you are in Christ and Christ is in you.

It means that Jesus’ family tree is now part of your family of origin. You are part of His lineage because, through Jesus, you now get to claim that all of His grace, all of His wonder, and all of the work He did to step into sin and shame and brokenness is not distant from you. It is now yours.

The way you receive that gift is not by being better or cleaning yourself up. You receive it by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And that is the scandal of Christmas.

Meditation: If you don’t know how deep your sin is, the story of Jesus invites you to realize how badly you need a savior. And if you are overwhelmingly aware of how far you fall short, of how messed up you are, of all the things you shouldn’t have done, this story invites you to put your faith in Jesus. He has carried the weight of the sins of the whole world to the cross and atoned for all of them, great and small.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for leaving Your throne in heaven and being born in Bethlehem as a helpless baby, just like us. You took on flesh and waded into the mire of evil to share in our common suffering and to bring redemption and hope! Your birth, death, and resurrection allowed us to be woven into the tapestry of your family tree. Thank you for being the Father’s best and final word to us.