The Family Tree

Scripture: Romans 8:14, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Timothy 1:2
Date: 12/15/2012 
When Jesus was born into this world it showed that there is real hope for us to be part of God's family because He, through His sacrifice, adopts us into the family of God.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I thought I’d talk about the family tree. Have you ever started reading the Bible and if you get to Genesis, about chapter five, and if you get to the New Testament, chapter one, you can get bogged down in the genealogies. And some of you have probably even wondered, “Was that really supposed to be in there? What in the world is the benefit of that?” But there’s great value in this part of the inspired writings because it’s really telling us about the family tree of Jesus, which in turn is also telling us about our family tree.

A few weeks ago there was a special on PBS that I watched on the Dust Bowl. I don’t know if any of you saw that, but it was of great interest to me. For those of you who may not know, the Dust Bowl was an era of American history that took place principally in the areas of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle from the 1920s to just about the beginning of World War II. And what happened is, as the U.S. Government wanted to open up this part of the United States for development, they had this big homestead land run. They’ve made stories and books and movies about this where they just fire off the canons, all these people took off, and whatever land they could grab and stake out, that was theirs. The government gave away this land. And others who bought a bunch very cheaply then would sell it, and they’d say, “This is the best land in America.” And it was one of the great migrations of people coming from the East to fill up this area that was really the Great Plains. It was just grasslands for miles and miles and miles.

I used to live in West Texas up around Lubbock, Texas and Amarillo and that part of the panhandle, and there are no mountains. If any of you have been through that part of the country, you drive Interstate 40, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It used to be 66. You could look for miles in any direction and see nothing but cotton. And I know people from there that moved to California, and they said, “Don’t you guys get claustrophobic out here? All just crowded in with these mountains and big trees. You can’t see anything!” Really, I’ve heard people say that because they live out there and you can see for miles in every direction.

Well, all these farmers came, and they plowed up about 100 million acres of land that had not been touched by a plow since antiquity. And there was buffalo grass, held all the soil in place. And it unfolded into one of the greatest man-made catastrophes in history. Because they came to the land and they plowed it up during a couple of good years, but this area was prone to regular droughts, and those who were selling the land to them didn’t let them know that, and after they plowed up all that land and the grass was not there to hold it in place, then the drought came, and then the wind blew, and by the way, the wind blows there all the time. They’ve got some of the big wind farms in North America in that area. And it just blew away all the topsoil, and it created these storms, these great big, black storms of dust. I think you saw some of them up on the screen there a moment ago, and you can look online and just see, I mean, it just really buried towns in dust. Some of these dust storms were so bad that it covered Chicago in layers of dust. The topsoil of the U.S., this whole region, blew away. And not only could the people there not farm, but it was killing their cattle, and the families were starving, and it developed a whole new variety of tuberculosis from breathing the dirt all the time.

Well, it was such a desperate situation that tens of thousands of these people migrated. They basically were so poor, they lost their farms, and they migrated to California to the Central Valley. And it was one of the great migrations; I don’t know if there was any greater since the time of the Gold Rush to California. All these “Okies,” they called them, came out. Some of you in school or college were required to read Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men, these books by Steinbeck that focused on this time of the great Dust Bowl and this great migration.

Well, that was very interesting to me, and I was telling Karen all about it, and I got choked up and even cried when I watched it. And since then, I was telling other people about it because it was the top of my mind. I had no idea how catastrophic it all was. And I noticed people that I was talking to about it were not nearly as interested as I was, and that’s very simple to explain. My father was one of them. My father was born in Oklahoma. He lived during that time.

As a matter of fact, I think I had some pictures on the screen. That’s my Grandpa Bachelor and my father in the middle and my Grandma Bachelor. Grandpa Bachelor died from a lung disease from the dust, we believe. Next picture is Grandma Bachelor with my father and my Uncle Harry there in Shawnee, Oklahoma. By the way, Dad is now buried there right by their grave. And she had one more at home, and she was pregnant in this picture. So this is, you know, during the time of the Depression, she, during this great poverty, had to raise four boys, my father being the oldest, and so this was very important to me, and I was telling people about it and I was wondering why they weren’t nearly as interested in it as I was. I thought, well, it’s because it’s my family, and I’m more interested in my family than they are.

A couple years ago something interesting happened. I got a phone call, and somebody from Selma, California called, and they said, “Is this Doug Bachelor?” and I said, “Yes.” And they said, “Was your father George Bachelor?” and I said, “Yes.” And she said, “You know, I think we’re related.” I said, “Really?” And so we began to talk a little bit, and she said, “You know, I’m actually a Baptist, but I watch your programs, and I heard you mention your father, and I went to my mother”—now, the lady that called me is in her 60s; her mother is in her 90s. As far as I know, she’s still alive. And she said, “Mom, what was the name of our cousin that came and stayed with us back in the ’30s and ’40s?” She said, “That was George.” “What did he do?” “Well, he was a pilot”—because my dad was flying before World War II. And we started to talk and exchange, and sure enough, these were my cousins that my dad came out with during this Grapes of Wrath migration that he stayed with in Selma, California; eventually came up to Lincoln, got involved in flying out at the Lincoln airport, which, interestingly enough, is where I fly out of today. Isn’t that strange? His first wife and baby died in a plane crash (he was not flying) and are buried up the street here in Sacramento.

So you’ve got all this history here, and I’ve found when I get older, family started meaning more, and family relations started meaning more to me. Now, you’re probably that way about you’re family. You’re not nearly as interested in my family. I’ve been telling you all about my family. I could talk all day, and I’d be very interested, but you’d probably go to sleep. As a matter of fact, you might go to sleep no matter what I say. But if I start talking about your family right now, I bet you’ll stay awake, because we’re all a little more interested in our families. Admit it. If your kid comes home with their class picture, who do you look for first in their class picture? You look for them, don’t you? And even though my brother and I would fight like cats and dogs growing up—he was really ornery—as soon as someone started making fun of my brother, picking on my brother—. You’ve heard the expression “blood is thicker than water,” and it’s just saying that we might have lots of friends and acquaintances, but family is supposed to be the most important tie. Isn’t that right? If you were on a sinking ship and you had to give that one life preserver to one of 10 children that were standing in front of you, and one of them was your child, which one would you toss it to? What if the other kids were better looking than your kid? Would that make a difference? You probably never would admit that any of them were better looking than your kid. Why? Aren’t their lives just as valuable as the life of your kid? What is it? How come we’re wired so we care more about family? Doesn’t it make a difference when someone says they’re¬ family?

You ever listen to somebody as they say, “You know, so-and-so and I are related because their wife’s cousin’s uncle’s aunt’s niece’s nephew is—” and he’s going “Yeah.” But it’s exciting to them that all of a sudden you found there’s a connection, there’s a relationship. They’re part of the family.

One of the fastest growing web sites—it’s very popular—is called How many of you have heard about that? And they’re actually founded by the Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, because they’re very interested in family heritage and genealogy, and as of 2012, the company provided access to more than 10 billion records, 38 million family trees, and they’ve got about two million paying subscribers. People are very interested in family. How many of you have a Bible where you chronicled your family tree going back a few generations? Have any of you done that—you’re kind of interested in your family? Not too many of you, huh? Wow, that surprises me! Do any of you know who your family tree is?

In America, I don’t know that we’re as interested in this. That might be why you get bored reading Genesis and Matthew chapter 1 because we are all such a melting pot that we’re hard to keep track of in this country. Everybody’s moving, and we’ve got all the blended families, and the regular family tree just gets a little confusing. You have to have all these extra dashes and arrows that are going hither and yon on the page.

But in the Bible, family trees were very important. By the way, if you ever do start delving into your family tree, it can be very exciting because you might find that you’re related to somebody really important you had no idea of, and you also might find that there are some embarrassing characters in your family tree. You might already know about them right now. You might be the one that’s causing problems!

But when you read in the Bible, when it starts with Genesis chapter 5 and in Matthew; as a matter of fact, I’m going to go there with you. People often jump right to the Christmas story, and they forget about chapter 1, but this is really part of the birth of Christ. It begins in Matthew 1, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham,” yes, I’m going to read it. “Abraham [begat] Isaac.” Do you know who Abraham is? He plays out in the story. “Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar.” Now there’s a story there. Do you all know how that happened? That’s quite a story. I’m not going to tell you. You need to read about Tamar. She’s one of the only women that’s mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, one of about four including Mary, and there is a very interesting story there. “Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.” Salmon—you know who Salmon probably was? He was probably one of the two spies that Joshua sent to look at Jericho, who ends up marrying Rahab, who is mentioned next. “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth.” You know about her; there’s a book in the Bible named after her. “Obed begot Jesse,” we know who that is; that’s David’s father, “and Jesse begot David the king.

“David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.” Doesn’t even mention her name, but it’s Bathsheba. “Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat.” You know about Jehoshaphat; he’s the one who jumps—jumping Jehoshaphat, right? And “Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah,” who prayed and the sun went backwards. And “Hezekiah begot Manasseh,” who killed the prophet Isaiah, and “Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah,” one of the greatest of all the kings, very godly, who “begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

“And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot [Salathiel], and [Salathiel] begot Zerubbabel.” You read about him when they came to rebuild the temple. And “Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.”

Now why did I go to such lengths to read the genealogy? There are a lot of them in the Bible. Do you realize that we just read through, as you lead up to Jesus, you read through the history of David all the way to Jesus, and then he goes on. Matthew finds it very interesting. What was Matthew’s job, by the way, before Jesus called him? Tax collectors, do they count money? Then it shouldn’t surprise you that he decided to count the generations. And he said, “all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen…, [and] from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen…, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen….” He was very interested in the numbers. He evidently thought that meant something or there was some meaning in numbers. Isn’t it interesting the New Testament begins by him saying, “Count them. It means something,” but he doesn’t tell us what those 14 mean, except that it takes two 7 to get 14, and so this represents six sets of 7 generations from Abraham, and seven is a perfect Bible number. I think that’s where he was going with that.

But this leads up to Christ. One thing this does for me, why would you go to all the trouble—the reading through the genealogies of someone that never really existed? And if this whole book is leading up to the genealogy of someone that existed, they must have really existed. The other thing it does for me, it reminds me that in the Bible, genealogies meant a lot more than they do to you and me today. Your property—we all buy and sell houses and land, and it just comes and goes, but in the Bible, when they received an inheritance, after they crossed over to the Promised Land and it was divided up by prayer and casting lots, that land was supposed to stay in that family, and if they could not establish their genealogy, they either could lose their land or, if they were of the priesthood, they could no longer serve in the temple as a priest. So, knowing your roots was everything for the Jews.

And isn’t it interesting, of all the peoples in the world today, there is no nation that has been more fragmented and scattered and conquered than the Jewish nation. Three times in the Bible they have been dispossessed from their land. Well, I’m counting when Jacob left. Jacob was there with his family. He left and others moved in, and they came back following the Exodus, right? Then they were conquered later by the Babylonians. They were kicked out again, and they came back from Persia after the Babylonian captivity. Then the Romans conquered them, and for the last 1900 years, they have been scattered around the world, and they came back again. And here in the world today, you can go to almost any part of the planet, and you can find a Jewish synagogue and they remain a unique, united people, and I think one reason for that is, family made a big difference. They cared about their roots.

They forgave me before they died, but when I when I first told my Jewish grandparents that I married a Gentile, they said, “Dougie, weren’t there enough Jewish girls?” It’s very important if you’re Jewish. And they told my mother the same thing because she married a Gentile. But keeping that family, they thought, it’s so important. And they actually say that as long as your mother is Jewish, then you’re Jewish, and so I have no problem claiming both. I figure that I can exploit the benefits of both just as easily.

If you go to the book Chronicles, I’ll just show you one more quick thing while we’re talking about genealogies. I don’t do this very often, but you want me to preach the whole Word of God, don’t you? 1 Chronicles 1, “Adam, Seth,” first words, Chronicles, “Adam,” no commentary, “Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, … Japheth.” The book just starts out with a genealogy. Don’t you think that was important? Interesting, this genealogy jumps down from Abraham and comes out to David. If you go to 1 Chronicles chapter 6, you’ll find it does the other genealogy. “The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The sons of Kohath were Amram,” and it traces the genealogy of the Levites, who were the priests. Two principal genealogies are being tracked very meticulously in the Bible. They are the genealogies of the kings and the priests. Now, why is that important? The Bible tells us that we are supposed to be a nation of kings and priests. Isn’t that right? And you are supposed to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

Now, it especially is interesting to me when you go to the book of Luke. Go to Luke chapter 3—one more genealogy. Now, Luke goes farther, and I’m not going to read it all because I think it would be more than you could handle. Luke 3:23 says as Jesus began to be 30 years of age. Now, the historians and the Bible scholars say that means after He had concluded His 29th year, meaning right around the time of His birthday, He was baptized, because according to the Levitical law, a priest could not minister as a priest until He was 30. And I noticed it also said by 50 you had the right to retire. So I’m starting to think that looks pretty good.

Oh, by the way, Joseph went out over Egypt when he was 30. Joseph is a type of Christ in the Bible. David finally was established as king, beginning with Hebron, later Israel too, when he was 30. Thirty was a very significant age. And so then you have Jesus. The priest couldn’t serve till he was 30. The king and the priest at 30. And then Jesus comes along, and Luke makes a point of mentioning as He began to be 30.

By the way, and I mention this almost every year because so many people don’t realize, Jesus probably wasn’t born this time of year. You know why? It’s too cold. The other reason is (there probably were no shepherds out in the field), Augustus Caesar would not issue everybody to go to their home town during the coldest time of the year when there was no food in the fields to glean, and furthermore, we know what time of year Jesus died, springtime. We know how long He ministered, three and a half years. If you count back three and a half years from the Passover, and it says he was baptized right at His birthday, that means Jesus probably was born in the fall sometime, September or October. But it’s not a big deal. I don’t make a big deal out of it. I know some of you think I’m a real Scrooge for even mentioning that.

In Luke, back to Luke chapter 3, this is what excites me. It says, “the son of Melea,” I’m in verse 31, “the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan.” Now, Luke’s genealogy is different from Matthew’s because Matthew was tracing the genealogy through the father, Joseph. Luke, the doctor that he was, says that, well, He definitely came through Mary, so we should trace it through the mother, and so it traces it through Joseph’s father-in-law. And it was very common for a Jewish father to call his daughter and his son-in-law his children, and the son-in-law would call both his father and his marriage father his father. And so it’s tracing it through Mary’s father. That’s why there is a little difference. When you get to David, Luke goes through the son of David, Nathan; Matthew goes through Solomon. Solomon leads to Joseph; Nathan leads to Mary. So that’s where he just showed up.

And it says, “the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon,” now it’s the same in both, “the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram.” It’s tracing from Jesus, mind you; this is going from Jesus all the way back. “The son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch,” who is the seventh from Adam because you go back six more, “the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”

Now do you know what that means? That traces the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam, who was the son of God, because Jesus is the second Adam. So we all know the first Adam was a son of God. The others are sons of Adam and sons of Enoch and sons of other patriarchs, but Adam’s Father was God. Jesus’ Father was God. And you know what I think is important about this subject today, when we become Christians, we become a nation of kings and priests, and our Father is God. And Jesus becomes like our Elder Brother.

There was a while there where people really questioned the science of tracing the genetics of the planet through DNA, but it’s a pretty well-established science now. And someone went to a lot of trouble and they’ve mapped—I know National Geographic participated in a special project of mapping—the migration of man around the planet through DNA. This is a copy of one of those reports. I didn’t have room to put all the different codes and the different people groups that those letters represent up on the screen. That would take a long time to explain. But they’ve traced back, by taking blood samples from people groups all over the world—they spent millions of dollars on this study—and they’ve been able to pretty much trace the migration of man and how people went. For instance, you can see how they go from the Middle East; there’s that yellow line, and it makes its way through India and through the islands there of lower Asia into Australia and up into New Guinea, and eventually some of them down to New Zealand. But it’s a little different from; they commingled with some of the Polynesian blood that went up to Hawaii, and then you get to Micronesia, and it’s got some of the blood; they somehow met each other. And it’s very interesting because you can tell from the DNA they’ve got certain things in common, that some of those people from Australia also intermarried with some of the people that you might find in New Guinea, for instance.

It’s very easy to track that the people from Mongolia were the principal people that made their way across the Bering Strait, probably when it was still a land bridge, through North America, and they have different groups, and do you know there are Najavos that speak virtually the same language of some of the Tlingit and Inuit Indians that are in Eskimos. But several tribes below them, they don’t understand Navajo at all. Somehow, some of their relatives settled down there around Four Corners in the United States that speak what we would call Eskimo. And so it’s just very interesting as you track this.

Now, there are a couple little gaps in their study. They’re not sure whether they went from Africa and migrated to Mesopotamia, or the Middle East, or if they started from Mesopotamia and migrated to Africa because once you get that far back, it’s hard to know who started first. We know biblically it started probably—cradle of civilization was from the Tower of Babel, more likely in Mesopotamia. But this is interesting because even the evolutionists that don’t believe in God say we are all related, that all the people in the world did not evolve separately from different groups, but we are all from one original man and woman that can be traced back to. Isn’t that interesting? That was a cover article in Newsweek a few years ago. They said, “We’ve identified Eve,” that all of us have a common mother. Well, that doesn’t come as news to you because everyone here knows we’re all related to Adam, right? Now, you also know we’re all related to Noah; unless you know somebody that managed to survive Custer’s Last Stand beside Noah and his family on a lifeboat somewhere, we’re all related to Noah. But beyond that, we’re all related in a different way because when you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed.

You ever have fun when you look at people’s families or you ever been traveling in public and you see these parents and these children, and you just look for the similarities? Or you wonder, Are those parents of these? Or you’ll see a group in a crowd and you see them just kind of standing together and you look at their faces and the face of the parents because usually they say, “the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree,” and you can often see the similar characteristics, and we have a tendency to resemble each other.

Have you ever wondered, What did Jesus look like? The Bible is amazingly silent on the physical appearance of Jesus. And I think He probably looked like me; I mean, I think he looked like any other Jewish fisherman. You know why? Well, several reasons. Let me give you some scripture. Philippians 2:7 says He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” He looked like any other man. Again, it says in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but [He] was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus has a resemblance to us in that He came with the same kind of struggles that we have. He knows how we feel. Romans 8 says, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His … Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Not only did Jesus come and look like a normal man, He came with the same kind of bodies that we’ve got.

Now, I think Adam probably was taller than the average person. Don’t you think so? I mean, he was a perfect specimen. Do we believe that Adam was a pygmy? No, I think that he was taller. I don’t think he looked exactly like any of us think. I think he just had a very noble, majestic, powerful look. We know he lived hundreds of years. People were different back then. You all look a little bit like Adam and Eve because we’re all related. But what did Jesus look like? Let me read something to you. I’m going to read Desire of Ages, page 23, verse 2 and page 27.

“In the eyes of the world He possessed no beauty that they should desire Him; yet He was the incarnate God, the light of heaven and earth. His glory was veiled, His greatness and majesty were hidden, that He might draw near to sorrowful, tempted men.” And again, page 27, “The Beloved of heaven was to them ‘as a root out of a dry ground;’ He had ‘no form nor comeliness;’ and they saw in Him no beauty that they should desire Him.” Jesus probably did not look like a model. He did not look like He stepped out of GQ Magazine. He probably didn’t look like some movie star or body builder. He probably looked like a healthy specimen of a man that lived back in those times.

Another reason, when they wanted to arrest Jesus, they had to get Judas to say which one is He, right? Because He mingled so thoroughly in among them, when He went to the crowd, He could disappear in a crowd because He looked like everyone else. What made the difference about Jesus was when He opened His mouth and when He spoke. I think that the Lord deliberately didn’t tell us what color Jesus’ hair was or how tall He was or what color His eyes were or the complexion because I think the Lord want all of us to identify with Jesus, because He tells us He is adopting all of us into His family. And you know, another reason that is so important is the Bible tells us that He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. He was thoroughly like us. He did not have Adam’s perfect body. He did not have Adam’s perfect character before Adam ever knew what it was to be tempted. The reason that the Bible goes through the whole genealogy of Jesus is to tell us that He had all the different, interesting, sordid characters in His family tree that we grapple with in our genealogy, and yet He lived a perfect life in spite of that.

There are a few things that contribute to your being who you are. Some of them are inherited, and some of them are cultivated. Now, some of you might say, “Pastor Doug, I can’t help losing my temper because I’m Irish” or “I’m Italian.” And that’s no excuse. If you lose your temper, it’s not because you have red hair, it’s because you probably learned it from your parents or they didn’t subdue it in you when you were a child, and they spoiled you, or it was demonstrated before you learned it. I don’t think that you can say, “I’m genetically bad-tempered.”

There are some things you probably do get genetically, for one thing, your propensity to heart disease. You need to pick your ancestors very carefully when it comes to having a good heart and how your veins absorb cholesterol. You get some things that are inherited, and you have some things that are cultivated. But you know, through Christ, we’re promised that you can overcome every inherited and cultivated tendency to evil. I do think that it makes a difference what a mother’s attitude and diet is while she is carrying a baby. It can affect that child in their life. That’s something that’s physically acquired. And then how that mother and father treat that child when they’re very young, they can develop propensities and attitudes and a disposition that can be loving and selfless or tyrannical and selfish. So we’ve all got things that have been cultivated by the way we were brought up, and we have things that we’ve inherited. Through Christ, all of us can overcome.

Did Jesus have reason to say, “I can’t help being the way I am because, I mean, look at my family tree! I’ve got a murderer, David, and a liar in my family tree,” right? “And I’ve got an adulterer, Judah,” and you just look at all the stuff. Abraham lied, and you can just look at the different things that are going. Manasseh—he was a serial killer in Jesus’ family tree. And you could start making excuses for Jesus. But in spite of those things that were in His family tree, did He live a perfect, godly life? Did He do it because when He was born, God gave Him some kind of special injection that helped Him to be inoculated against all of the bad genes? No. He overcame in spite of the fact that He had some of the blood of all of these characters that we just read about. That means that you and I can overcome the same way. Isn’t that right? I believe that’s true.

It’s also wonderful, we don’t have to be part of the same family any more. We can be adopted into Jesus’ family. Sometimes it’s easy to tell when somebody is adopted into a family. You can just see that there are some obvious differences. Some of us look like each other. Some people can adopt and you can’t even tell, but in many cases it’s pretty clear there was an adoption that took place.

In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul in his introduction says, To “Timothy, my own son in the faith.” Now, did Paul go through a formal adoption of Timothy, or was he just saying that “I’ve adopted him spiritually as my son”? Romans—and in our scripture reading, Galatians, we talked about it—Romans 8:14-17, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Not everybody that says they’re a son of God is a son of God.

Jesus was saying, in Mark chapter 10, “Peter began to say…, ‘See, we have left all and followed You.’ [And] Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands.” Why did He mention all those things? Why was genealogy so important to a Jew? Because a father and mother and sister and brother and lands—it all went through the family tree. They said, Lord, we’ve left all this. We’ve left all our earthly ancestry to follow You. Jesus said, Don’t worry about it. Nobody that’s done this has to worry. You will “receive a hundredfold [more] now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—[but] in the age to come, eternal life.” Jesus tells us that we become His family.

Matthew 12:46, “While [Christ] was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother [Mary] and [Jesus’] brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.” There’s this great crowd, and someone sends a messenger, said, “Excuse us, Master, but Your family is outside the circle. They’d like to talk to You.” And Jesus said to them—“Look, Your mother and Your brothers” want You—He said, “‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples.” Are you a disciple? “He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and [My] sister and [My] mother.’”

Mary grabbed Him by the feet when He rose from the dead and He was about to ascend to heaven. He said, Mary, don’t cling to Me, but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God. You see, Jesus was pretty clear. You didn’t become a child of God because you said you’ve got this earthly heritage. This is what the religious leaders thought. They said, “We’re Abraham’s seed,” and Jesus, He kind of shocked them when He said, “No, you’re not Abraham’s seed. If you were of Abraham’s seed, you’d believe Me because I came from the same Father as Abraham, but you are of your father the devil.” It’s kind of a hard thing to say. Christ said there are two fathers in this world. You’ve got those who are born again; their Father is God. And Jesus said if we’re doing the will of God, He says, You are My brethren. We are adopted completely into the family of God. He gives us a new spiritual DNA, so to speak. And that means if we’re all adopted into the family of God, we are all relatives.

You ever met a relative you’d never met before? It can be pretty exciting when someone calls you up and says you’re related or when you meet one for the first time. I remember the first time we took our boys down and they got to meet Uncle Jim, the last surviving brother of my father, and I think they really enjoyed that. It’s pretty exciting. Well, you know, that person next to you is your brother or your sister. And some of you are spooked right now because you’re sitting next to your spouse. Abraham, his sister was his wife, right? We are all brothers and sisters; we are all family through Christ. Jesus came into the world to really adopt us, to make it possible for us to get a transfusion to get a new DNA and be adopted into the family of God. How many of you think that’s good news?

Now, how important is family? Yesterday, it wasn’t until afternoon I even heard about this tragic school shooting, and only those who have lost a child can understand how awful it is to get that news. When you get one of those phone calls, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But I’m almost sure that every parent that had a child at that school, when they heard there was a shooting at the school, what was the first thing that was on their mind? The welfare of whom? Their child. They want to know, how is their child? That’s natural, isn’t it? And so, what should be the first thing on our heart when we realize now that we have been all adopted into the family of God? If only He could give us the love for each other that we have naturally for our children, wouldn’t you like to have that? I think that has got to happen before Jesus comes back. All men will know that you are My disciples by your love for one another. It’s my prayer that God gives us that love. It’s my prayer that we can all know that we become His children.

When you’re baptized, what did God say to Jesus when He came out of the water? “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And what does He declare to us when we are baptized and we join the family of God? We now become His beloved sons and daughters in whom He is well pleased because of Christ’s sacrifice in our place. Friends, that’s good news. That to me is, I think, the most exciting thing about this time of year. When Jesus was born in the world, it tells us that there is real hope for us to be part of God’s family because He, through His sacrifice, adopts us into the family of God. And we are all brethren, amen?

Let’s have prayer, and then we’re going to close the service with some special music.

Loving Father, what a privilege it is for us to know that we can call You Father, and it’s not just a term, it’s real, that through Christ we are all directly related, not only through the first Adam, but in a special sense, through the second Adam, that we are Your children, and that we are all brethren. And we’re looking forward to that day, Lord, when we will all be part of that family in the mansions You’ve prepared. Bless us all, Lord, that we might have that joy and that love for one another because we know that we do have the same Father in heaven. And I pray that we can also know that we are thoroughly adopted, and the promises of adoption and that inheritance are ours because You love us as Your own. Bless us through this Sabbath day, and we thank You for Your goodness, Lord. We ask this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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