In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” was calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought over a period of 7.5 million years. In the end, Deep Thought came up with the simple answer to ‘everything’… it was “42“. Turns out there is something amazing about that number after all.
God promised Abraham He would make him a great nation. However that great nation would become divided and be in need of a Savior. Many generations would come and go between the time of Abraham and that Savior. “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.”
(Matt 1:17) So 42 generations after Abraham, came the answer to everything… Jesus.
What’s interesting is some of the history that is represented in those 42 generations. Abraham and Isaac both lied to rulers that their beautiful wife was in fact their sister, tempting these rules into adulterous relationships. Solomon was the result of a murderous and adulterous relationship between David and Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. Throughout the deportation to Babylon, there were multiple generations of people who turned their back on God all together. And then you get all the way to Joseph.
However Joseph was not even the bloodline of Jesus, since Jesus was a result of the Spirit and Mary. However, Matthew traces this bloodline through Joseph vs Mary (as shown in Luke) for two main reasons. One perhaps is tradition of the time. All ‘rights’ were passed down through the inheritance from the father so it made sense to follow all of the ‘fathers’ back to Abraham to see the inheritance through Abraham to Jesus. But there’s an even more important reason to trace the lineage through Joseph.
Despite the crazy stories that are included in the 42 generations between Abraham and Jesus, despite all the sin… the transition of Joseph to Jesus is not through blood, but through adoption. Just as the human part of Jesus was made an heir to the promise of Abraham through adoption. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:15-17)
There is an even deeper meaning in the adoption between Joseph and Jesus. We see the obvious that Joseph adopted Jesus, but in fact it was the God part of Jesus that adopted Joseph. Despite the baggage and history of sin in the life and genealogy of Joseph, Jesus adopted him just as he was.
This Christmas story is obviously about a Savior arriving on earth, but it is also about that same Savior adopting us, despite our history, our struggles, our pain and our sin. God chose Mary and Joseph to be the earthly parents of Jesus for this very reason. His selection of them is part of the demonstration of the level of grace He brings.
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