When God called Abraham to be the father of many nations,
ultimately leading to the birth of Jesus,
He surely knew this family tree was going to include some extremely thorny branches.
They all grew here.
Yet God chose not to chop it down.
He rooted His promise in Abraham and was faithful to His Word.
Abraham’s descendants would eventually include a man named Jesse who would become the father of David.
And David’s line of descendants would one day welcome a tiny baby in Bethlehem who would change the world forever.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples;
the nations will rally to him,
and his resting place will be glorious.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
His arrival would not only bring salvation to His own people but also to the rest of the world.
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
That’s why I can’t get bogged down in today’s reading,
because closing the Bible this morning would be hard if I didn’t know the rest of the story.
Seeing brothers murder a nation in the name of revenge
and then sell one of their own into slavery out of jealousy and hate doesn’t make for an uplifting start to a day.
It’s sad to think these are the kind of men whose bloodline led to Jesus.
Until I remember why Jesus showed up.
He came to save.
Be the ultimate sacrifice.
A perfect world wouldn’t have needed Him.
And a perfect family wouldn’t have needed Him either.
That’s why the birth of one little boy continues to be a birth worth celebrating.
For over 2000 years this planet has acknowledged that the arrival of Jesus changed history.
There were plenty of branches on Abraham’s family tree,
But He was the branch that would change every sprout to follow.
and redeem every branch that came before Him.
Simeon and Levi needed redemption after leading the way in the killing of the people in the city where Shechem lived.
Reuben needed redemption after sleeping with his father’s concubine.
All of Jacob’s sons needed redemption after plotting to kill Joseph.
So don’t worry this morning if your family isn’t perfect,
neither was the family that brought us Jesus.
Thankfully one family member spoke up in the desert.
Judah found another way to make his brothers happy.
Sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites.
That will get rid of him.
But it will also save him.
Did Judah realize he would be the one chosen to become the descendant ultimately leading to Jesus?
Joseph will save his people from starvation.
But Judah will be the one listed in the genealogy of our Savior.
Judah saved Joseph.
And ultimately saved us.
It must have taken a lot of nerve to stand up to a group of hate-filled brothers.
But I’m so glad Judah did.
Because my imperfect family needed Him just as much as Judah’s did.