After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Matthew 1:12-16.
The exile to Babylon destroyed ancient Israel, the divided kingdom, as it had been. Split after the time of Solomon into the related nations of Israel and Judah, this arrangement continued for over 300 years. The (northern) kingdom of Israel disappeared after the Assyrian invasion. Judah reigned until the Babylonian invasion in 598 BC, when it was exiled to Babylon. After decades, the Jews came back to their homeland, but were no longer the nation they had been. The temple was destroyed. Their independent throne was gone. Their national sovereignty was no longer intact. For the next 500+ years, Judah declined, eventually being overrun (again) by a succession of empires until the time of Jesus, when the pseudo-nation found itself under Roman control.
That’s why the ancestors of Jesus, listed above, seem mostly unknown. Shealtiel was a prince, son of the last king of Judah, Jeconiah. Zerubabbel, Shealtiel’s son, led the exiled Jews back home, and is credited with rebuilding the Temple that Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed. Yet the rest of Jesus’ ancestors, from Abihud to Jacob, are unknowns. They lived lives in obscurity, with their deeds unacknowledged and unremembered by history (outside of the Bible). Indeed, perhaps the greatest of this line of descendants is Joseph himself, the adopted and earthly father of Jesus.
Think about it: Joseph is the model for all of us. God used him to model the kind of relationship that God the Father has with each of us. Joseph adopted Jesus when he didn’t have to. Joseph raised Jesus as he would his blood-son, teaching him behaviors and skills that would serve Jesus’ eventual ministry. Joseph, like his wife, Mary, did something no other human has ever done: lovingly raised the Son of the triune God as family. Joseph loved Him.
Each of us, we are created by God, but our sins alienate us from Him, destroying the bond of love and spiritual intimacy God designed. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God adopts each of us, grafting us back into His family line. He then asks us to model what Joseph did, raising sons and daughters to follow Him, then having us adopt others into the faith through the lives we lead.
Everyone has a family; everyone has family history, even Jesus. Let us each be encouraged but never constrained by it, knowing God has us where and as He wants us to be.
For more reading: Matthew 1:17
Lord, all praise to You for Your family history.