The More Significant Ancestors of Jesus Christ

Some 500 years involving generations of more than 70 patriarchs comprise the lineage of Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate this month. Among his significant ancestors were Boaz, owner of a barley field; David who was warrior-king; and Joshua, the successor of Moses who led some 2 million Israelites to Canaan, God’s promised land, after a 40-year journey in the wilderness.

Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be God along with the other two persons of the Holy Trinity. He has no beginning and has no end. Pre-incarnate Christ appeared as man in at least two instances recorded in the Old Testament — before Abraham, as one of his three visitors a few days before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; and before Daniel, the prophet, when details of the end times were revealed to him.

For God the Father so loved us that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that when we believe in the redeeming power of his death and resurrection, all our sins past, present and future are forgiven and we will live forever with Him.

The Israelites waited for the Savior in a span of about 500 years that involved 73 patriarchs as recorded in Luke 3. Following are the more significant men in the lineage of Christ.

Adam, the first man whom God made sovereign over all animals and plants. He can eat all the fruits in the garden of Eden except the fruit of the tree of knowledge. But he disobeyed when he partook of the forbidden fruit that Eve, his wife gave him when she yielded to the serpent’s temptation. She believed when the serpent said, “When you eat the fruit, you will be like God.” Adam and his wife were banished from Eden. Before they left, God made for them clothes from animal skin to replace the fig leaves they covered their bodies with. The death of the animal foretold the sacrificial death of Christ. The birth of the Savior was foretold when God said the woman’s (Mother Mary) son will crush the serpent’s head.

Methuselah and Noah. Methuselah is known for being the oldest man who ever lived on earth. He died at the age of 969 years old. He was the father of Noah, the builder of the huge boat that saved his family and animals from the destructive flood.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were the three great patriarchs. God promised Abraham he would have children as numerous as the stars. To Abraham’s son Jacob, God promised sons as innumerable as the grains of sand. From Jacob originated the twelve tribes of Israel that grew to become a great nation. Isaac, the father of Jacob, was demanded as sacrificial offering from Abraham to prove his faith. When Abraham was about to put the knife down on Isaac, God stopped him and provided a ram instead to serve as sacrifice. Again the sacrificial death of Jesus was foretold by this event. Also from this incident originated the often quoted passage, “God will provide” (Genesis 22:8). We often quote this when we want to reaffirm our faith in God’s provisions of all our needs — for food, guidance, healing, peace, protection, comfort, joy.

Judah. From among Jacob’s twelve sons, it was from the lineage of Judah, his son with “unloved” wife Leah (for Rachel was Jacob’s favorite wife, he worked 14 years for his father-in-law Laban in order to have Rachel as his wife) from whom Christ would descend.

Boaz was the rich owner of a barley field where Ruth, the faithful widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi happened to glean. It turned out he was a close relative of Naomi, in fact, a next-of-kin who was traditionally responsible for marrying the widow of a kinsman. Boaz and Ruth had a son, Obed, who became the father of Jesse, and who became the father of David, the shepherd boy who defeated the giant Goliath with stones, slingshot and faith in God.

He became a warrior-king; he was also the father of King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived on earth.

Joshua descended from the lineage of Eliezer. He was Moses’ successor. He was a victorious commander and successfully led the Israelites to Canaan, God’s promised land, after traveling 40 years in the desert. They could have made it in a week’s time but the people’s stubbornness, idolatry and disobedience delayed their arrival.

Joseph. It had been from a long line of patriarchs from whom Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, descended. Joseph was a carpenter in Nazareth. He and Mary were engaged to be married, waiting for the one-year betrothal period to be over when Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel to announce God’s plan. She was to become the mother of the Savior. “How can this be when I knew no man?” (meaning she had never been physically intimate with any man). But the angel explained, the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would bear a son. Mary accepted, “I am the handmaiden of the Lord, be it done to me according to His Word.”

Joseph, a righteous man, after learning that Mary was pregnant, planned to quietly divorce her, to spare her from humiliation and punishment (stoning to death for adultery). But in a dream, Joseph was told by God to take Mary for his wife. Joseph took care of Mary and her son, the infant Jesus, who was born in a manger, an event we continue to celebrate every year

At the age of 30 years old, Jesus began his public ministry of healing the blind and the lame, performing miracles so that the lost would be found and come to know of God’s redeeming love. In the book of Revelation, it is told that the Savior would come again for the second time and would finish off the enemy. And then, there would be a whole new world for us. Life forever would be wonderfully indescribable. This is the ultimate message of Christmas that brings us hope and true joy year after year.