We’re two weeks in to Our Great, Big, Family Story and we’ve covered 28 generations of descendants of Jesus from Abraham forward. Where last we left off in the lineage we weren’t in a very great spot. “Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers. This was at the time of the exile to Babylon.”
Yep, you heard that right. Exile. Babylon. Things are in shambles. The people have ignored God and his desires. The kings did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. The law was forgotten. The covenant seemingly abandoned. The kingdom is divided and conquered. The Temple is destroyed. They’re all carted off to a foreign land where they’ll live out the rest of their days.
I wonder what was going through their mind?
I know what I’d be thinking: “God… um, I know I screwed up, but can I have a second chance? Pretty please?”
We fail. We fall. We falter. We make mistakes, and do things we regret. If only we could get another shot. A mulligan, a do-over. A second chance to make things right.
Here’s the good news. The very next line in the lineage of Jesus goes like this: “After the exile to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel.”
After the exile. Life goes on. There is a second chance! It’s easy to miss the significance if you just skim past it like I usually do. And yet there it is, a perfect encapsulation of the Gospel message two thirds of the way through a long list of unpronounceable names.
Our God is a God of second chances.
We don’t know much about the last fourteen generations immediately preceding the birth of Jesus. But what we do know shows us just how good this good news is. The people of Israel return to their land. The Temple is rebuilt under Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel. They all give it their best effort to follow the commandments, observe the Sabbath, and love God and neighbor. They get their do-over.
Were they perfect? No. Are we perfect? Hardly. And that’s why Jesus is born. Because God is a God of second chances. And third, and fourth, and seventy-eighth chances too. That’s the Good News of Advent. We can begin again. We can start over.
Is it time for you to ask God for a do-over? There’s no better time than right now.
“The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘Look I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness: prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.’ John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins.” (Mark 1:1-4)
See you Sunday,