Advent Devotion – 04/12 – A Family Mess

A Family Mess

TEXT: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar … (Matthew 1:2-3a)

Genesis 38 tells the story of Judah and Tamar. It is a sordid story—the kind of thing you’d expect to find on a soap opera, not in the family of Christ.

Judah’s oldest son got married to a girl named Tamar, but this didn’t last long. “Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death” (Genesis 38:7).

Someone had to provide for the widow and give her children to carry on her dead husband’s name. So Judah married off Tamar to his second son according to the local custom. But that went wrong too. Her new husband treated her shamefully and broke faith with her—and the Lord killed him also.

Now what? There was one son left. But Judah was terrified he would die, too. So Judah made excuses to keep Tamar waiting—widowed, childless, and alone, with no future to look forward to.

Tamar was no fool. When she realized that Judah was happy to forget her, she tricked Judah himself into fathering twin boys on her. One of these, Perez, became the ancestor of Jesus.

What a mess! And yet you probably know a family as dysfunctional as this one. You may even live in a family that carries this much pain—a family where fear and betrayal and shame and secrets are always in the background, reaching out into the future and creating even more grief.

But Jesus has come to us in the guilt, in the shame, in the messiness of our lives and relationships. He knows them well, because they are the world He was born into. When God became man, He made our world His world, our families His family. And through His birth, suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus reaches out to make us—everyone who believes in Him—His own forever.

THE PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for loving me and making me a part of  Your own family. Amen.

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