Awkward Family Photos

March 23, 2014

David Sorn

Jesus' family tree is, well, kind of…awkward. Maybe you'll fit right in after all!

Awkward Family Photos

March 23, 2014

David Sorn

Jesus' family tree is, well, kind of…awkward. Maybe you'll fit right in after all!


Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

How many of you are familiar with the craze going around the internet right now “Awkward Family Photos?”

I feel like I was introduced late to the party when I was introduced to it at my house group the other week.

It’s basically just a collection (there’s even a book!) of awkward family photos that people have submitted over time.

Here’s a few samples

(rotate through the awkward family photos)

Maybe you have a few like that in your own family. J

Or, maybe, if you go back in your family tree, there was a pretty awkward person. An uncle…or grandparent.

Like that crazy grandma that a lot of peole have.

Or maybe even great-grandpa

Or, let’s take this even a step further…what if you were actually researching your family name...and you got back a few generations…and you saw you were related to someone…not just crazy…but of ill-repute?

Like, you find out you were related to John Wilkes Boothe (the guy who shot Lincoln)

Or, even a slave owner…

Or…the town drunk…or a prostitute…or someone in your family was BORN to a prostitute.

What do you then? Just leave that off your family tree?

I’m pretty, that’s pretty awkward to have in the photo of your family tree…

And speaking of, what do you think Jesus’ family tree looks like?

He’s a pretty upright, righteous dude, right?

What do you think his great-great-great-great-grandparents were like?

Probably just perfect photos of perfect families the whole way back, huh?


We’re actually going to answer that question today.

But before we do so, let me explain a little bit what our new series, “The Kingdom,” is all about.

At Renovation Church, we’re kind of different in how we do series.

We do a lot of series based around topics. Topics that are helpful to cover, so you can better grow in Christ.

Like our “Reason to believe” series. Or our “Meology” series on the topic of selfishness.

But we also believe it’s equally important to do series where we unpack the Bible…verse by verse.

In our history, we’ve done a few of these.

We did 18 weeks on Jesus’ sermon on the Mount in Matthew

43 weeks on the Book of Acts

And 18 weeks on the Book of Galatians.

Each time, going verse by verse through the whole section.

This morning, we are starting a series on the Book of Matthew.

Now, before you get nervous about the grand scope of this series, let me put some fears to rest.

Matthew is a HUGE book.

So we’re actually not going to cover all of it.

But we have NOT spent a ton of time on the life of Christ, so I wanted to spend 15-20 weeks in it this year.

But, like always, we’ll be rotating back and forth between our verse-by-verse series (Matthew) and topical series.

And we’ll cover select parts.

So we might do chapter 1, verse 1-17

And then chapter 3, 1-17

Then maybe chapter 4, 12-25

So, we’ll go verse by verse, and in chronological order, but we won’t cover every story.

Otherwise, I estimated it would take us 5 years.

But we’ll finish it this year.

And some of the sections we’ve already covered in messages in the past.

“And I’ll just point those out as we go, in case you want to study every section.

But I think you’re going to get a great overview of what one of the Gospels is.

Because that’s what Matthew is.

It’s the 1st book in the New Testament, and the first of 4 gospels, 4 stories, about Jesus

Gospel just simply means Good News.

And it includes historical information about Jesus’ birth, his miracles, his life, his death, his resurrection

But also a ton of his teachings and parables (stories) as well.

So after 18 weeks of this (which we’ll prob do in 3 sections), I think you’ll get a great look at what Jesus’ life was all about


Perhaps THE greatest theme of Matthew’s telling of the “Story of Jesus” is what Jesus calls the Kingdom of God.

Or, often, interchangeably, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew sets out to show that in Jesus’ king-dom….in the dome in which Jesus is king…

If we let Jesus be king of our world…of our lives…that everything is different.

It’s an upside-down kingdom compared to this world.

I mean, think about the kings of this world… The kings of the past.

Even if you don’t remember anything from history class, you probably know enough from fairytales and Disney movies to know what a King is usually like.

And then…take what you’re thinking in your head…and make it three steps more evil, then you have a typical king from history. J

The King…and his kingdom…in history…was all about power.

It was all about what you had.

How much land did your country have?

How many men were in your army?

How much money was in your treasury?

And to go even deeper, it was all about who YOU were.

And more importantly, who your family was.

Where did your family come from?

How could you trace back your royal and honorable decent?

That was one of the most significant parts of being king.

Proving from your noble family history, that you were meant to be king.


And the Gospel of Matthew starts off doing just that for King Jesus.

Going through His family history…to prove he’s meant to be king.

It starts with Jesus’ genealogy.

And some of you that have been Christians longer are thinking, “you’re not actually going to preach through the genealogy of Jesus are you?”

Yes, I am.

And I think it might surprise you.

See, Matthew, by writing this genealogy, and starting with the family tree of Jesus…is going to tell us a great deal about WHO Jesus really is.

And what His family is like.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand at first.

When people start reading the Bible, I almost always recommend that they start w/ Matthew

In fact, if you pick up one of our Bible reading plans, “The Bible Pyramid,” you’ll see it’s the 1st book listed

Yet, I’m always nervous what they’ll think of Matthew chapter 1…the genealogy…family tree.

Just a listing of hard to pronounce names

Or…just a bunch of really good Baby Names

And if you don’t know the background of the names, the stories behind them, it’s hard to make any sense of it.

It would be like if you knew nothing about sports, and somebody showed you a list of super bowl champions over the past 58 years, and said, “What do you think? Isn’t that interesting?!?”

You’d be like, “Uh, no. Looks like that Vikings team lost a lot, but no.”

But when we can bring out the background on these people are…and why they’re in Jesus’ family tree…there is depth in it.

And of course, we must also begin with the assumption (from 2 Tim) that ALL scripture is God breathed and useful.

Even though, if you were reading this on your own, you might just say, “So and so is the son of some dude’s name I can’t read…and so and so is the son of….ON TO CHAPTER 2!”

But God puts it in there for a reason.

1 of those reasons is to show that Jesus is a real person, with a real history…and that this is NOT just some fairy tale, but there’s also more….

Let’s take a look at it.

If you want to follow along today, you can do so in a number of ways…

There’s a Bible under every chair.

PAGE ____

Or follow along on YouVersion…Live.

(Matthew 1:1-3) – NIV

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,

Okay, we’ll stop there. I won’t actually read every name.

But I want to begin to point out some things on some of these people.

Because they might not be who you assume them to be.

See, I think a lot of people grew up with bad Sunday School teachers.

Their teachers only told them the sunny stories from the Bible. About how everyone was SO Good…and how you all should be good little boys & girls too!

But that’s just not true.

Some of these people are in the Bible to show us what NOT to do.

And many of them are just a collection of good AND bad; victories AND failures; righteous acts AND moral implosions…just like us.

Take Abraham for instance….where Matthew begins Jesus’ family tree

He was the Father of the Jewish people.

A man of unbelievable faith

Yet, the Bible tells us that he was also an adulterer, and a liar, and that he gave his wife away to another man (to save his neck)…TWICE!


His Grandson Jacob, who’s also listed, was a master liar.

Including pretending to be his brother, so his blind old dad would accidentally give him his brother’s blessing as the firstborn.

Then, in verse 3, Matthew lists Judah and Tamar…

Tamar, Judah’s, daughter-in-law, once disguised herself as a prostitute to get back at her father-in-law, sleeps with him, and then the offspring of that incestuous relationship…are listed in the genealogy of Jesus.

Now, you could say…well, Matthew’s just doing what he’s bound to do.

List the actual ancestors.

But that’s not how people did it.

Genealogies were almost more like a resume.

You included whom you needed to make sure you looked good.

And a) It wasn’t uncommon to “leave out” certain people that wouldn’t speak to well of your family

Herod the Great (a contemporary of Jesus…in fact, he tried to kill him as a baby), purged entire people out of his genealogy

And b) virtually every genealogy of those times didn’t include everyone.

They were all organized for ease of memorization. Meaning you left people out, so it was simpler.

And Jesus’ was the same way.

It’s done in sections of 14.

Which is an important number.

We’re going to talk about WHY that’s important in house groups this week actually.

But Jesus’ genealogy doesn’t include everyone.

When it says the “father of,” that can mean grandfather of, great-grandfather of, etc.

So, if Matthew doesn’t even HAVE to include these people, why is he doing it?

Especially if his main point of this book is going to be to paint Jesus as King?

How many of you have seen the show Downton Abbey on PBS?

How many of you have seen it but you’re afraid to raise your hand right now cuz your “wife made you watch it?” And forced you to keep watching it apparently?

It’s about the dying aristocracy of England in the early 20th century.

But if you watch the show (which I’ve only just heard about from others), and you can see that in those days…EVERYTHING was about who your family traced back to.

And the last thing you want is a stain on your family’s name!

And yet Matthew includes the most shocking people in Jesus’ family tree.

His family photos are truly awkward.

And really, it was actually even more shocking to readers of Matthew’s time.

For example, this part probably didn’t even cause you to raise an eyebrow, but you remember Tamar? Judah’s daughter-in-law?

She’s a woman. (stop)

And today, we’re like, “So….”

But you see, you didn’t put women in genealogies.

They weren’t that important to genealogies and even in the “religious world”

But Jesus’ family is not your typical “religious family”

Jesus’ family is for outsiders. Jesus’ family is for OUTSIDERS.

It’s for gender outsiders.

In a world where women were looked down upon, Jesus said they were equal in his family.

In fact, there are actually FIVE women listed in the genealogy, one of which is Mary, Jesus’ mom.

The other four are: Tamar…

Then, Rahab…who was also a prostitute…and not even an Israelite

Ruth…who’s King David’s great-grandmother, but she’s an outsider too.

She’s also not Jewish…she’s a Moabite

And then, you’ve got to check out verse 6

(Matthew 1:6) – NIV

6 and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,

The fourth woman listed is listed by reference…her name is Bathsheeba.

But here, she’s just called “Uriah’s wife.” HUH?

I mean, why mention her at all?

Well, because Jesus values women in his family

But why not just say, “whose mother was Bathsheeba?”

Why say, “whose mother had been Uriah’s wife?”

Because Matthew is PURPOSEFULLY reminding people how the genealogy continued to Solomon in the next verse

That King David…yes THE King David…the great King David…sinned mightily.

He saw Bathsheeba, lusted after her, slept with her (even though he KNEW she was married)

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, he then ordered that her husband, Uriah, be sent to the front lines of the battle, so he would be, which he was.

And Matthew, slyly reminds the readers of that great sin by writing, “whose mother had been URIAH’s WIFE”

Jesus’ family everyone! (applause)

If you look up some of the kings that come after David in the genealogy, …

Which by the way, you can do.

We talked, just this week at Encounter, about reading the Bible more slowly.

In fact, if you don’t own a “Study Bible”, it’s one of the best investments you can make.

It’ll cost you about $40

If you don’t have the money, add to your Christmas list.

Yes, I know it’s March.

I’m trying to help you save

But if you get a good study bible, it’ll give you notes on these people as you read, and help you cross-reference the other places in the Bible where you can read about them

Which we teach in our “Mining God’s Word” class in the summers as well.

But if you look up some of these kings that are listed…like the ones in verse 7:

(Matthew 1:7) – NIV

7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,

But kings like “Rehoboam, and Abijah were not good kings. AT ALL!

And the crazy thing is, Matthew could have picked all good kings.

And he does pick some.

But other times he doesn’t.

Matthew is going out of his way to list some of these people.


Gender outsiders

Racial outsiders in those days.

Moral outsiders.

All in Jesus’ family tree.

All in his awkward family photo.


Because Matthew wants to show you (Right from the git go!) that Jesus is OWNING these people in his family.

These people, so many of whom were excluded by others…Jesus is bringing in.

The people who make up Jesus’ family tree aren’t on there because they were the greatest people of history…and that somehow led up to Jesus.

No, they’re on there because they serve as a history of God’s grace.

They are the story of God’s faithfulness…despite the mess.

In the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, prostitute and King sit down as equals.

And they’re equal, in His Kingdom, because the only reason they’re even in His family, is because of God’s grace.

Not because of what they’ve done.

Here’s what I want you to see as we start this series about the Kingdom:

Jesus’ kingdom is so upside down (compared to our world), the grace and forgiveness in his kingdom is so pervasive, that even his genealogy is a powerful lesson in how much God loves us.

This is a different sort of Kingdom.

Look at verse one again…which sets up that this is the genealogy of the KING.

(Matthew 1:1) – NIV

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Matthew starts by just highlighting two names.

He says, Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ), and he’s the son of David and Abraham.

IN other words, the two most important people on his tree, that you’ve got to know are David and Abraham

God promised Abraham, that one day his seed…his descendent would bless the whole word.

And that is incredibly fulfilled through his descendent Jesus.

And Jesus is the son of David…because God promised David…that one of his descendants would sit on the throne…FOREVER.

Now, that was probably hard for David to understand…but now we see…that one of his literal descendants is going to sit on the biggest throne…FOREVER…as KING…which is amazing!

But as we read Matthew, we’re going to see that this King who is going to bless the whole world and sit on the throne forever, is going to operate much differently than everyone thought the Son of David…the coming King would.

And in truth, it’s much better, and much greater than everyone ever imagined.

So great…that his kingdom didn’t end in the 1st century.

It stretches to even us today.

And this passage tells us that it’s not just that He can be your King…but that YOU can be in the King’s family.


That God invites you…no matter how messy your life is…no matter how awkward you think it would be to have YOU…in Jesus’ family…He invites you in!

This is a God that specializes in awkward photos.

He specializes in messy families.

You can be in his family.

By believing that he came to die on the cross for you.

To die in your place…to take your punishment.

Because He loves you so much…that he wanted to die for you.

And by believing in Him and starting a relationship with Him, you can be in his family…forever…be completely forgiven.

In fact, the Bible says, if you become a follower of Jesus, you get added to his future family tree.

You get put in the “Book of Life” it says.

Even more so, God invites you, a messed up person to be his son, or his daughter

(Galatians 4:7) – NIV

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

As a child of God the Father, it’s like we’re a brother or a sister to his firstborn son Jesus.

In fact, Hebrews 2 says that Jesus is not ashamed to call you a brother or sister!

If you’re a believer (a follower), you’re in his family!

In fact, you’re royalty.

Jesus is the king.

The kingdom of God, is this crazy upside-down world where prostitutes can become princesses and murderers can become princes.

It doesn’t matter your race, your gender, what you’ve done, how many people you’ve slept with, whether you’ve been divorced, whether you’re an alcoholic or whatever…YOU can be in Jesus’ family.

It’s one big awkward photo of grace.

And anyone who says otherwise, hasn’t spent much time looking at Jesus’ family of the past.

And I say this…not because Jesus doesn’t care about sin…or getting drunk…or sleeping around.

Of course he does. He’s got a way that is right for you…and He wants you to take it.

Both for your own sake, and to honor Him.

But you’ve got to know this…no matter what you’ve done…if you’re following Him….you’re in his family.

Because some of you are being too hard on yourself lately.

You’re just been beating yourself up for some of the sins you’ve committed lately.

Just beating yourself up for it. Shaming yourself over and over…

“And I’m a Christian! How could I be doing this!”

Maybe it’s something you’re dealing with right now…or something from your past…

But shaming yourself isn’t going to right the situation.

But speaking truth into will.

And I want you to know…whatever it is…Jesus knows about it.

He knows all about it.

And he knew about it already even when he decided to die on the cross for you.

And yet, he still said…”Hey…you…YOU’LL FIT RIGHT INTO MY FAMILY”

“I LOVE YOU. Now come and get in this awkward photo with David and Bathsheeba and Abraham and every other messed up follower of God who’s just living on grace”

You’re in the family of God!

You’re in God’s family!

God loves you so much, he put your in HIS family.

No matter what.

And he calls you SON.

He says to you today, “You’re my son. You’re my daughter.”

Picture Jesus today…taking a family photo with you…with his arm around YOU and a big smile…maybe giving you a noogie from behind”

That’s who Jesus is. That’s his love for you.

Know that today.

And let that change you. Not shame.

Let that grace and that love motivate you to want to live for him. Every second of every day.

It’s an amazing kind of love.

It’s an amazing family.

Let’s pray.

God, thank you that you invite us into your awkard family

Thank you that you’re a king that loves messy people.

Thank you that your kingdom is upside down.

Thank you for your grace.

May we not receive it vain…but let it change every fiber of our being.

We love you.

In your name we pray.


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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