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Who do you think Jesus is?

Did you see any of the BBC series "Who Do You Think You Are"? Basically, we watched a bunch of celebrities research their family tree and history to discover their roots. We get the premise - if you want to know who someone is then you need to know where they came from.

Matthew starts his gospel (and so the whole New Testament) with an episode of "Who Do You Think Jesus Is?" He digs back into a family tree to work out where Jesus came from, and therefore who he really is. When we see it like that, the first 17 verses of Matthew are not just a list of unpronounceable names, but tell us three wonderful things about the baby in the manger. Why not read them now, and then let's have a dig around.

1) Jesus will bless all nations. Did you notice that Matthew's genealogy of Jesus is carefully structured around Abraham and David? You see them both highlighted in verses 1 and 17, and some names are omitted from the list to make sure that they turn up at the pivotal fourteenth generations. So Jesus Christ is the son of Abraham. In Genesis, God makes huge promises to Abraham about his son, and the climax is: "through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed" (Genesis 22:18). Jesus is Abraham's offspring (son) who will bless all nations on earth. This December, Christmas will be celebrated in London, Mexico City, Beijing and Addis Ababa because Jesus' birth has blessed all nations.

2) Jesus will rule for all time. What about David, then? What's the big deal with Jesus being his son? This one is even easier, as the Bible talks loads about the Son of David, but let me give you the high point again: "I will raise up your offspring to succeed you... and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Samuel 7:12-13). Jesus is David's offspring (son) who will have a throne forever. Think of all the rulers who have been and gone since Jesus. Caesar was called a god. Charlemagne conquered the known world. The Qing dynasty lasted 275 years. Dictators have held hundreds of thousands under their sway. In their day, each looked impressive, unshakable, eternal. And each has fallen. But Jesus Christ is still in heaven, because his birth means there is a ruler for all time.

3) Jesus came for all people. So far we've looked at the names Matthew had to include - Jesus had to be related to Abe and Dave or he'd be a nobody. But did you notice the names that he didn't have to mention? Look back at the women in verses 3-6. Matthew didn't have to include any women (he manages without their names in the rest of the list), but he deliberately includes these four, because these are the most shady. Jesus hasn't only come for the great ones, he is unashamed to be descended from these women. He came for those who feel far from God, like the foreigners Rahab and Ruth. He came from those who feel far from perfect, like the sexually immoral Tamar and Uriah's wife. And, of course (see v16), he came for those who feel far from significant, like the young woman from a backwater town - Mary who was chosen as the mother of God.

Jesus came to bless all nations and rule for all time. But he is not aloof or distant. He came for all people. He came for you. Happy Christmas!