For the past two months (though it really seems like a lifetime) I have been trudging through Chronicles and Kings in my morning devo. And not the interesting parts – I’m talking about the annals and stories of pre-pubescent Kings and their rebellion against God, and all the wonderful and exciting ways He punished them for it.

Fun times.

I was so tempted to just skip all those chapters – and honestly the entire books – and move on to some more stimulating content. Esther, Job, Psalms – even Obadiah would have been a welcome relief to the repetitiveness and gore of these chronicles. But I kept going!  And today I understand part of the impotence of reading them.

How close of a look have you taken at the genealogy of Jesus? You know, that long list in the first chapter of the gospels? Well, in case you haven’t, here it is again (feel free to simply skim – I know I did!):

The family tree of Jesus Christ, David’s son, Abraham’s son:

Abraham had Isaac,
Isaac had Jacob,
Jacob had Judah and his brothers,
Judah had Perez and Zerah (the mother was Tamar),
Perez had Hezron,
Hezron had Aram,
Aram had Amminadab,
Amminadab had Nahshon,
Nahshon had Salmon,
Salmon had Boaz (his mother was Rahab),
Boaz had Obed (Ruth was the mother),
Obed had Jesse,
Jesse had David,
    and David became king.

David had Solomon (Uriah’s wife was the mother),
Solomon had Rehoboam,
Rehoboam had Abijah,
Abijah had Asa,
Asa had Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat had Joram,
Joram had Uzziah,
Uzziah had Jotham,
Jotham had Ahaz,
Ahaz had Hezekiah,
Hezekiah had Manasseh,
Manasseh had Amon,
Amon had Josiah,
Josiah had Jehoiachin and his brothers,
    and then the people were taken into the Babylonian exile.

When the Babylonian exile ended,

Jeconiah had Shealtiel,
Shealtiel had Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel had Abiud,
Abiud had Eliakim,
Eliakim had Azor,
Azor had Zadok,
Zadok had Achim,
Achim had Eliud,
Eliud had Eleazar,
Eleazar had Matthan,
Matthan had Jacob,
Jacob had Joseph, Mary’s husband,
    the Mary who gave birth to Jesus,
    the Jesus who was called Christ

Some of those names you probably recognize, and some you don’t. Let me highlight a few of them:

Abraham was that guy who laughed at God and told everyone his wife was his sister.

Remember Jacob? He’s the one who lied to his father and stole his brother’s inheritance.

Funny (and kinda perverted) story – Tamar was actually Judah‘s DAUGHTER-IN-LAW.

Rahab was a prostitute…

Oh, and Ruth? She was a foreigner. And you know God’s people considered foreigners to be below them.

David is the King who slept with a man’s wife, impregnated her, then killed the man to get away with it.

Solomon had a trillion wives.

Abijah, Jehoshaphat, Ahaz and half the other kings and men listed either disobeyed or disregarded God. They tore down temples, killed priests, and worshipped gods made by man.

Yet there they all are, listed boldly in the genealogy of the greatest man who ever lived. I never would have known just how sick and twisted some of Jesus’ roots were if I hadn’t read through Chronicles and Kings.

And all this is is proof – proof that even bad roots can produce good fruit.

It’s easy to think sometimes that who we were/are or where we’ve come from or the things we’ve done disqualify us from doing amazing things for God, or Him doing good things for us. But the first chapter of Matthew shows us that God can use the most messed up histories in His plans and to His glory. Yes, we are all born of man and perfectly imperfect – but being born again by the Holy Spirit means we have been empowered and have access to the Source of all power – the same power Jesus had access to here on earth. Being born again means you have all of heaven on your side, rooting for you to succeed and propelling you forward.

You have the ability to produce good fruit, not because of who you have been or are, or what you have or don’t have, but because of who God says you are in relation to Him – a son or daughter.

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

(John 15:1-8)