WHERE DID JESUS CHRIST COME FROM?
(Younger children will need help from parents to understand this bible study)
Dear Parents and children,
Please examine this history of Jesus. There is nothing more important than to understand where Jesus came from and the part his ancestors played in the blessings to Abraham, the blessing of his seed that would bless the world. We don’t often refer to our parents seed in these days. We use scientific terms like ovum’s and sperms and retain the word seed for plants and flowers. But the word seed is appropriate and applicable for it is the seed of human genealogy that makes us what we are in our features and mental makeup.
Like Sarah in today’s story there are millions of women who cannot have children. They are not called barren as they once were for this was a term of reproach and disgrace. Because there are millions of women who cannot have children a method altering this has been discovered through ‘in vitro fertilization' which is a process by which the ovum, the female reproductive organ, is enabled by hormones to produce more eggs than normal. The eggs are removed from the womb of a female and mixed with the sperm of a male from the semen of the woman’s husband. The eggs are then returned to the womb where they hopefully begin the process of conception.
Our wish to continue the line of our ancestors is very strong. Few people who get married do not have children and the importance we place on our family tree is a reflection of our human history and our wish to identify with our family tree.
We will discuss this word seed later in The Advent of Jesus Christ but its importance and relevance begins with Abraham. Please help your children to understand this word and its meaning and how it applies to Jesus our Saviour. This article forms the first of a study in Bible School for Parents and Children. I am publishing it here because I would like your children, who go to high school or university, to read it.
First, let’s talk about ancestors. Did you know that people who died thousands of years ago are still remembered and revered, even worshipped by peoples in many countries? Ancestral links in China, for instance, are stronger than the links on an iron chain. The links are not merely records of Chinese people who lived in the past; they are what distinguishes a Chinese person from everyone else in the world. The links are genetic, all the inherited characteristics and features of what a Chinese person looks like, feels like and behaves like, because a Chinese person has racial, cultural and ancestral links that are spiritual as well as physical. And because the Chinese have been a nation separated from the rest of the world by choice and blood they have retained links with their ancestors that are revered and inseparable.
I visited a village of shrines in Guang Dong Province in South China where the ancestors are remembered by name and history. They are a memorial to the first Chinese people who came to Guang Dong. But they are not only buildings and temples that record who the first settlers were, but places built and maintained and visited by living relations.
Did you know that on the seventh month of each year the ancestors of living Chinese families are believed to visit their relations. On this month Chinese families place food and drink outside their homes to welcome the spirits of the dead, who for one month only are allowed to pass the barrier between the spirit world and ours.
Chinese culture and religion is deeply embedded in the mind and spirit of ancestors such as Buddhist monks and Confucius. There are thousands of temples built to separate the physical material world from the spirit world. These are often built out of reach of civilization on the top of steep impassible terrain's and mountains edifices high above the world below. One wonders how they were built from the ground upwards. They seem to suggest that they were built from the sky. Other temples are visited frequently by the Chinese to offer prayers and incense to gods, Buddha’s and ancestors. The writings and books of Confucius are also a link with the great thoughts and mind of a philosopher whose filial and spiritual thoughts greatly influence Chinese society today. So, as you can see, genealogy and ancestry is of vital importance to the mind and spirit of a nation that has its roots in ancient times when the world was built out of worshipping deities, (gods) revered parents and ancestors. But as you will see this was not only the case in China but in almost every country on the face of the earth. Nations have roots in the past that live in the present in the way people think and live their lives.
ONE ANCESTOR WHO WAS CHOSEN BY GOD
The ancestry of the Jewish nation comes from God’s choice of Abraham to be the father of many nations and the bearer of blessings to the whole world through his offspring. This point in time is where we must begin the ancestry of Jesus Christ and how that ancestry differed from any other in its spiritual link with God, the Father of Jesus Christ.
The One true God chose Abraham and his seed to bless the world and deliver the world from superstition, ignorance, bewilderment and sin. By seed I mean offspring, the children of ancestors whose blood line went back to the Patriarchs (fathers) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from whom came the twelve tribes of Israel.
THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS AND ISHMAEL
Jesus has a genealogy that dates back to Abraham, who is the father of many nations, as God promised he would be. (Genesis 17:4 KJV) But, I should tell you that only Abraham’s offspring through Isaac figures in the genealogy (ancestral history) of Jesus Christ. Abraham had another son, Ishamael who was born to his Egyptian slave girl Hagar. That came about because Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren. She could not have children.
So, because Abraham’s wife was barren, Abraham thought the promise God made to him must be through Ishmael. That was not what he wanted, nor what he expected but as Sarah grew old he came to accept that this was God’s plan. He was however, greatly mistaken and in the next lesson you will learn why for God never goes back on his promises.
The essential fact of Abraham’s offspring from which Jesus came is that Jesus is a human being. He is also called the Son of God. (Mark 1:1 NRSV) We will see why he is called the Son of God later but let us be under no doubt that Jesus Christ is a human being. (1John 4:2 KJV) He was flesh and blood like we are and subject to all the conditions of man, even death. We can assert this because Jesus was the offspring of Abraham, and Abraham’s line to Mary, the mother of Jesus.