Unlikely Branches on the Family Tree
Families. We all have them. Some of us have largely present families, while others have families that are about as distant as the north pole. A family is a unique constellation of relationships that shapes our existence. Whether we are content with how those relationships have shaped us or not, there is no denying that those who make up our family tree have influenced the person we are today. If you’re like me, you have experienced people say something like this, “Oh, he looks just like his mother.” My personal favorite is when I am told that I get my humor from my father. The man who has a PHD in dad jokes, most of which make absolutely no sense. I’ll never forget the one-time he said to my brothers and I, “Hey boys, what is the capital of Wisconsin?” To which we then waited for him to provide an answer that at least piqued our interest or allowed us to let out a minimal laugh. His response, “W.” I am not even sure you can call that a dad joke it was so bad. So when someone says I am funny like my father, I think to myself, “Thank you, that means my jokes are about as dull as a butter knife trying to cut through a block of ice.”
It is not unusual to believe that your family is strange or unlike other families. Likewise, it also not uncommon to believe that other families are odd because you are comparing them to your own. My pastor has been known to say the following, “Normal is the family you grew up in.” Isn’t that the truth? The older you get, the more you realize that some of what your family did during your younger years was weird. Yet, it wasn’t weird to you at that time, because that was all you ever knew. Speaking of unusual, I have heard of some families having unique family traditions that are practiced during the holidays. With it being the Christmas season, perhaps your family has a tradition or two they like to keep from year to year. In Ukraine, families are known to decorate their homes for Christmas with fake spider webs instead of tinsel, garland, or lights. Across the Pacific, many families in Japan bypass turkey or ham, and make it a tradition to only eat Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). That is not really all that unique though, I would say that is a finger-licking good idea (if you know, you know). Here in the United States, some families in Louisiana have their largest bonfires of the year on Christmas Eve (to help Saint Nick find his way to their home).
In my family, one of our traditions during the holidays is to look at old family photos or videos. This allows us the opportunity to reminisce and teach the next generation about people who are on their family tree. The topic of ancestry or family trees is fascinating. Whether we realize it or not, every one of us has someone significant on our family tree. Perhaps you have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who is famous or has made a huge impact in our world. Others may have to dig deep into their family history to find notable family members. Not too long ago one of my uncles discovered that our family has an unlikely branch on our family tree. It was found we are related to the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne. While that sounds pretty awesome, the bragging rights have been diminished after realizing anywhere from 500 million to 1 billion people can claim Charlemagne as an ancestor.
When you open the first page of the New Testament, reading the beginning of Matthew’s gospel, you are greeted by what is considered the genealogy of Jesus. In other words, you are gaining a view of Jesus’ family tree. Many of the names there are remarkable individuals who you’d put on the Mount Rushmore of Biblical characters. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth, David, and Solomon are all there. Those six names are responsible for some of the greatest stories we read about in the Old Testament. The only problem with Jesus’ ancestry is, well, he’s also got some unlikely branches on the family tree. Who are these unlikely branches? Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba. As you might recall, each of these women when identified, cannot be adequately described without the mentioning of sin. That is not to say that men like David or Solomon are remembered as being sinless, but it is to say that the three aforementioned women when discussed are typically referred to because of the sins they committed. Both Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes, and Bathsheba was an adulteress. Nevertheless, they are listed as being a part of Jesus’ genealogy. Unlikely branches on the most significant family tree in all of history.
Could it be that you have unlikely branches on your family tree? In a good and perfect world, we all would be able to say that nothing about our family history is unusual. No “family curses” exist. Every person we are related to is living for God. No grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, or parent has any issues. The sad truth is nobody has a family like that. We all have families where problems are present. Everybody has somebody on their family tree who has failed and attempted to tarnish a family’s name. The enemy of your soul would love for nothing more than for you to believe that your future is limited by the unlikely branches on your family tree. He wants you to believe the lie that only people from perfect families can be successful. Here is the good news that debunks the enemy’s attempts to discourage you. Jesus Christ was able to minister and touch lives in spite of the unlikely branches on His family tree. He was able to fulfill His calling after growing up in a home where people had more questions than answers concerning his family situation. Regardless of your family tree or current family situation, you are more than able to be a minister of the gospel, fulfilling the calling God has for your life!
Andrew is the proud husband to Chelsea and father to Carson, Callahan, and Clayton. He currently serves as the senior pastor at River of Life in Henry, Illinois. He also serves as the Illinois District Youth Secretary. Before becoming a senior pastor, Andrew served as a youth pastor for 10 years. In total, he has over 15 years of experience in youth ministry. His educational background includes a B.A. in Psychology from Oakland University, an M.Ed. in School Counseling from Liberty University, and a MACM from Urshan Graduate School of Theology (currently in progress).