Holidays are awkward. Like Cousin Eddie—in his bathrobe—dumping RV sewage in Clark Griswold’s driveway. Cousin Eddie is an iconic Christmas figure because Christmas time reminds us we are part of a family with at least one or two “Cousin Eddie’s.” Family is beautiful—but it’s also crazy.
Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy to show Jesus is the rightful heir to David’s throne. Matthew also does something strange. He uses the genealogy to shows how broken Jesus’ family tree is.
Normally only fathers and sons get mentioned in Biblical genealogies. Matthew lists five women in his to grab our attention. The first woman is Tamar, who was Judah’s daughter-in-law before giving birth to his children—yes, you read that right (Genesis 38). After Tamar, Matthew includes Rahab the Prostitute and then Ruth the Moabite—not Israelite. The fourth woman mentioned is Bathsheba, David’s wife who is called “the wife of Uriah.” That’s because David got her pregnant while she was still the wife of Uriah—and then David had Uriah killed to cover the whole thing up.
Now that’s one crazy, messed up, broken family tree! Matthew could have omitted these women to avoid awkward questions like, “Why did David have a baby with another man’s wife?” or “How is Tamar Judah’s wife if she was married to his son?” But Matthew didn’t skip these scandalous details. Instead, he highlights them to show King Jesus came through brokenness to save brokenness!
Holidays confront the truth that our family tree is anything but perfect. The stories from the past we don’t want our kids to hear, and the words around the table we hope they won’t repeat. At Christmas, we gather as family to see how dysfunctional family can be. And if we are honest, we don’t just have a Cousin Eddie or two in the family; we are Cousin Eddie.
But here is the beautiful news of Christmas. King Jesus came through brokenness, to save brokenness. He came from a history of adulterous kings and Canaanite prostitutes. He was born to a long line of sinners because all those sinners need a Savior. In the incarnation, Jesus didn’t bypass our brokenness. He came right in the middle of it, to heal it forevermore.
You came from a family full of crazy—and you are part of it. And that’s the reason Jesus came. He came through a broken family as the only whole, obedient, and righteous one. And on the cross, he took your broken to give you his forgiveness and wholeness. Yes, you come from brokenness and are broken, but the manger, cross, and empty tomb say you don’t have to remain broken. So to all the Cousin Eddie’s, Clark Griswold’s, and “normal folks” like you and me—we are all part of a long line of broken, and that’s why Cousin Eddie needs a cross. And that’s why you need a cross too.