Your Father Abraham – John 8

The first book of the New Testament, Matthew, begins like this:

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.  Matthew 1:1-2 ESV

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons are referred to as the Fathers of the Faith or the Patriarchs.  Jesus referred to them often, and his disciples and the crowds He spoke to were all well acquainted with them, and their importance to the origins of the family of God. 

For example, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said:

11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 8:11 ESV

Abraham gets a lot of discussion time throughout the New Testament.  Jesus referred to him on multiple occasions, as did Paul in his letters (sometimes called epistles).  The writer of Hebrews includes Abraham in the faith “Hall of Fame” (Chapter 11).  He was clearly a person of great importance in the word of God, but many are not quite sure who he was or why he is so important.

Abraham is important because he is the first to be called out to begin a family of faith in God. His lineage would become the kingly line of Jesus Christ, who would save and justify believers throughout the world from their sin.  Abraham is the father of all believers in God.  If you are a Jewish worshiper, you may have a blood connection to Abraham, but the rest of us are spiritually connected to Abraham by our faith in God.

When Jesus Christ came, He tore down doctrinal walls and unified all believers as one in Himself.

In the New Testament books of Romans and Galatians, the apostle Paul writes how we are all joined as one in faith, after the Man of Faith, Abraham.  We will see how Abraham demonstrated his faith, most notably with his son Isaac at Mt. Moriah, in Genesis 22.  Mount Moriah would later be named the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and is the place where Jesus Christ would be crucified as a divine sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. 

Jesus had many discussions with his opponents who sought to kill him because he “claimed” to be God and they did not believe Him. One of these discussions centered around Abraham:

31 Jesus said… “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.  John 8:31-37 ESV

Jesus, himself a descendant of Abraham through the genealogy, tells us that the power of truth and freedom lie in Christ and His word.  His word becomes alive within us and, with the Holy Spirit, is a “power greater than ourselves”.  

Our practices of sin may have led to any of several forms of addiction, which rob us of our freedom and the joy of life.  Once entrenched, we may be unable to throw off the bondage on our own, and need to rely on a “power greater than ourselves” to break those chains that hold our mind, spirit and body.  Jesus tells us that He is that power, and that the power comes through His word.

Jesus’ opponents were angered by his statements about Abraham and freedom:

53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets who died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered… 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So (they) said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”  58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.  John 8:53-57 ESV

Jesus claimed both an intimate personal relationship with Abraham and that He existed even before Abraham.  Furthermore, Jesus used the term “I am,” which his audience knew was the name God revealed about himself to Moses at the burning bush in the desert.  Jesus was referring to himself as God.  Hearing this, those who rejected Jesus were enraged enough to seek to stone him to death.

Later, they would crucify Jesus unto death. But this sacrifice was an essential part of God’s plan of salvation.  The blood of bulls and goats in the Old Testament Jewish ritual sacrifices were important expressions of obedience and faith, but could not truly atone for the sins of mankind, which separate all of us from God.  Only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ could fulfill the requirement of holiness needed to remove our separation from God and make us holy enough to allow His Holy Spirit to reside in us.  The Holy Spirit cleanses us daily, thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the washing of the word of God.

Reflection

Jesus said we must abide in his word.  To “abide” means to “accept or act in accordance with.”  Some synonyms include to obey, observe, follow, uphold, respect and remain.  What does Jesus tell us will happen for us if we do remain in his word (see John 8:31-32 above)?

What areas of obedience do you struggle with the most?  Despite our deepest yearnings and best efforts, we all struggle with sin at one time or another, which strains our relationship with God.  God loves us deeply even when He disapproves of our actions, and always forgives us when we confess to Him and turn away from our sin.  He does not seek to condemn us, but rather to help us turn back to Him and to become a stronger and more fruitful believer.

What steps do we take if we do have an addiction?  First, an honest, open and willing self-appraisal is needed.  If we conclude “yes, we have an addiction”, where can we go to get help to achieve freedom and victory, and to begin joyful living?  We can seek out a safe recovery group, a trusted friend in recovery, an understanding clergy or a qualified professional to help guide us so that we can learn to seek and follow God’s path to freedom.  Jesus often works through other men and women of faith to help us grow and to experience a daily victory in our lives.

Freedom and healing are also available if we experience extreme fear, depression or grief.  We can reach out to others in faith-based support groups to help us overcome in these areas as we reach out for the love Christ has for us.

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ – Matthew 1

Upon first opening the New Testament, we see in the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew a list of 42 curious names.   This list, referred to as the genealogy of Jesus Christ, is often greeted by the reader with a quick scan, a brief look at some of the unfamiliar names, and a skip ahead to the next section.

Not so fast!  While the first reading may not be the optimum time to delve into the list, there are many benefits to going back and following up on the rich stories behind each individual, as found in the Old Testament.

This genealogy is the royal lineage of the now and eternal king, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise that there will always be a king from the line of David on the throne of Israel into the Kingdom of Heaven (2 Samuel 7).

Here is Matthew’s version of the genealogy of Jesus:

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.  Matthew 1:1-17 ESV (English Standard Version)

The genealogy can be divided into three sections, 1) the early fathers of the Jewish faith in God Most High, known as the Patriarchs, and their descendants up to the time of Israel’s King David, 2) the era of the kings of Israel, from David through Jechoniah, and 3) the governors of Judah, who fill the gap between the kings of Israel and the coming eternal King, Jesus Christ. 

Notice that several women play key roles in the genealogy of the Christ.  These include Rahab, Ruth, Tamar and Mary, Jesus’ mother.  In addition, we will learn that Esther played a very key role in the preservation of the lineage.

The genealogy is a love story between God and His people. It is a story of preservation through hardship, of redemption and the offer of eternal life that is extended to all because of the genealogy and its Fruit.

The format for the blog is a series of daily meditations. We invite the Holy Spirit to instruct each of us in the way that He chooses, and to use the blog all over the globe, bearing fruit until the return of Jesus Christ. Along the way, we ask Him to unlock the treasures found in the lives of the people who make up the genealogy.  Help us to find new gold daily as we sift through Your precious word, and silver as You bring us new truths about Yourself and Your desire to play a role in our daily lives.

I pray that you will find much encouragement and guidance for living as we witness our loving God in action as He leads us on our spiritual journey.

Reflection

Had you read the genealogy before today?  What is your reaction to it? 

What is leading you on your journey today?

What is one thing you would like to get out of this daily study?  It may be worth keeping a diary or prayer journal to record your goals, thoughts and prayer requests.  It is often exciting to go back and see how God has answered our prayers, often after we had forgotten we prayed them.

Holy Spirit of God, be with us to teach us and guide us as we proceed through Your Word in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Introduction

Hello, my name is Brother Bruce. I am a Christian from the USA. I have been actively involved in jail and prison ministry since 1997.

Please join me from wherever you are on this earth as we together invite the Holy Spirit to guide us through a daily nourishment of His word. This blog is a study of the lineage of the Messiah Jesus Christ through the Old Testament.

There are many rich manifestations of a loving God that we will discover as we go through His interactions with His people. We ask the Holy Spirit of Jesus to speak to each of us in love, to spiritually enrich us with His Presence, and to come close to each one of us as we journey through His genealogy.

May you and your loved ones be richly blessed and protected by the Lord today as you seek to grow closer to Him.

Brother Bruce