The Family Tree
Reading: Luke 3, 4
I recently got the urge to track down as many members of my family tree as I could. Somewhere buried underneath piles of papers in my brother’s apartment is an envelope containing my mother’s family tree, painstakingly put together by my mother’s cousin, Charlie. As far as I know dad’s side of the family has never been done. And, as it happens, I’m having a harder time tracking down my father’s family members than I have finding my mother’s side.
One of the items left over when my brother and I sold the family home was a suitcase full of pictures. Some of these have helped me in my search, but others are a complete mystery. I have no idea who they are, how (or if) they are related, There is one that is particularly intriguing. His name is Ferdinand Bloedow and he was a minister. Apparently he moved out west, and died in the 30s in Winnipeg, Manitoba. But I don’t know how he’s connected to my mother’s family. “Bloedow” turns out to be a fairly common name. I suspect he’s a cousin of my grandfather’s but I really have no idea. I hate not knowing!
As I was reading through these two chapters from Luke, I came across an interesting statement. Luke records the beginning of Jesus’s ministry and, detail person that he was, he includes a genealogy of the Lord tracing him all the way back to God. Imagine, all this without benefit of Ancestry.com ! But that’s not what caught my eye. Luke writes: “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry, He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of…” (Luke 3, 23, 24, NIV) and you know how the rest goes.
Luke is writing this letter to assure the friend, Theophilus (1:3, 4) that what he has come to believe is the truth. That’s where that little “so it was thought” comes in. In Jesus’s case, He was the Son of God by “blood” as it were, and Joseph’s son by adoption. On the other hand, I am a Wilfred Schultz’s child by blood and God’s child by adoption.
I’d like to be related to Ferdinand. I know nothing about him, but it would be nice to have a “Reverend” in my family tree—sure beats a horse thief or a serial killer! Having a reverend in the family is a bit like ending the list with “God” as Luke did in describing the lineage of Jesus. That’s impressive. But people in Jesus’ day didn’t grab hold of the “God” connection. They looked at His “dad,” Joseph, the carpenter. Whether or not Ferdinand is a relation of the mine, people will know me as Wilfred, the mechanic’s daughter. Overseas I worked among a socioeconomic group who would have rejected me under normal circumstances because of my heritage–unless the mechanic owned a string of garages, he was pretty near the bottom of the social order. What “saved” me was being an educated foreigner. But even that didn’t make my message any more acceptable to most people.
Many people believed that Jesus was simply a carpenter’s son from Nazareth (4:22-24) and rejected his message because of it. He was simply too “blue-collar” for most people–certainly those in His hometown. But even those who knew nothing about His lineage rejected Him. Theophilus believed so he wasn’t thrown off by the “so it was thought” or the implications of being a carpenter’s adopted son. He had faith in the implications of the God-connection.
As Hebrews tells us: “…without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV). In the end it isn’t the family tree that counts but the faith in the Father of the only family that does count–the family of God.