Practicing tbe Better: The Genalogies

[Foreword–The posts for the New Testament will explore the themes of light, life, and love.  We will do this by looking at the Genealogies, Mary, Joseph, Zecharaiah,  the Magi, John the Baptist, Jesus, the early Christians (Acts), Paul, Peter, James, and John.  We will look at each of these relative to their incarnation (embodiment) and their instruction (teaching) about light, life, and love]


The Gospel began before the gospels were written.  All four gospel writers bear witness to this. Two of them (Matthew and Luke) do so through the use of genealogies.  Far from merely being an interesting list of Jesus’ ancestors, they are where the New Testament begins in continuing the look at life, light, and love.  We begin here as well.

Light, life, and love are incarnated in all sorts of people. The genealogies include well-known and unknown people. Women are included in Matthew’s list, as are Gentiles. The practice of the better is not reserved for a particular gender, people group, the prominent, or the few.  It is something we are all called to do.

Light, life, and love are a legacy of goodness to be passed on. Each name represents a generation, and each name is a link in the larger chain of history.  The genealogies show how one person after another was faithful to the Old Testament admonition to “Teach your children.” The practice of the better has traveled down the corridors of time into the present moment.  It is not meant to stop here.

Light, life, and love create a sense of family.  “Wherever they are, God is”  In Matthew, the list is set in the context of Abraham’s and David’s family, while in Luke the list is in relation to Adam and to God–the universal human family.  Each of us practices the good in the context of community, as heirs of the insights and witness of those who have preceded us, and as benefactors to those who come after us.  

The genealogies teach us that it is light, life, and love–together–yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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