Jesus: The Savior of Sinners Like You

We all have labels that we think define us, but there is a way to get rid of these labels and redefine who we are. In this message, we look at Jesus’ family tree to see the people that He came from. As we go through Matthew 1, we learn that Jesus came from sinners and for sinners in order to bring salvation to broken people.

Message Transcript

Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth; Houston; El Paso; Phoenix; Cedar Rapids; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Philadelphia. Let me get this out of the way. I'm sitting on a chair. I woke up this morning and felt great. Super excited. The last Porch of the year. I got to work, which is here, and started throwing up for the last 12 hours. So I went and got an IV drip and was hoping that would work. Tonight could be interesting or short, but I did not want to miss out on the last thing of the year. I think God has something really fun in store for us.

We know 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says his power is made perfect in weakness. So if anything, this is just an uncomfortable advantage in God speaking and showing up here tonight. We know there's an Enemy who hates the passage I'm about to read, who hates what's taking place in this room, but at the same time, if you see me dash off for side stage, I'll call somebody else up here, and we'll just keep worshiping. I'm going to read in Matthew, chapter 1, as we wrap up this series Bloodline. I'm going to start in verse 1. We are going to look at the final week of the bloodline of Jesus.

Verse 1: "This is a record [genealogy] of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac." It just lists out, "Here are the people in Jesus' family tree." "Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar). Perez was the father of Hezron. Hezron was the father of Ram." What a great name. Your child is named Ram? He was yoked, for sure.

"Ram was the father of Amminadab. Amminadab was the father of Nahshon. Nahshon was the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah). Solomon was the father of Rehoboam.

Rehoboam was the father of Abijah. Abijah was the father of Asa. Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram. Jehoram was the father of Uzziah. Uzziah was the father of Jotham. Jotham was the father of Ahaz [the worst king in Israel's history] . Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh [the second-most evil king]. Manasseh was the father of Amon. Amon was the father of Josiah. Josiah was the father of Jehoiachin and his brothers (born at the time of the exile to Babylon).

After the Babylonian exile: Jehoiachin was the father of Shealtiel. Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud. Abiud was the father of Eliakim. Eliakim was the father of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok. Zadok was the father of Akim. Akim was the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar. Eleazar was the father of Matthan. Matthan was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah."

I'm going to pray one last time. I'd love you to pray wherever you're at (I don't think I've ever asked you to do this) just for me to be clear, for this to come out, and for God to minister to all of us as we unpack some incredible truths from the bloodline of Jesus. I'm going to give you a second. Just where you're at, pray that God would speak to you, and pray for health. Selfishly, I'd love you to say a prayer that I'd be able to get through this. I'll give you a second to pray, and then I'll pray.

Father, I thank you for every person in this room. I thank you for the work you're doing in their life, that you want to do in their life, the finished work you did on the cross for them and for their life. As we talk about the bloodline of our Savior, our Messiah, Jesus, our King, would you illumine our minds to the incredible people you instructed Matthew to include? The story tells us about our story. We love you, amen.

What I have up here is a Christmas tree, and it is not just any Christmas tree. There are a lot of Christmas trees all throughout Watermark as they get ready for the holidays. This is a real Christmas tree. By show of hands, who in this room grew up and had a real Christmas tree? That's what you did. You didn't play that fake game. You had a real Christmas tree. Just raise them high, even the guys. It's okay. Yeah, okay.

There are different levels. Was anyone in a family where every time the holidays came around, you didn't just go to Home Depot and buy the real Christmas tree; you guys went camping? You went out and found that tree, and you chopped it down yourself, and this was a part of your family tradition. Anyone in here? Yeah, there you go. Man, if you're a lady, your dad just set the bar so high for the fellows in here. That is manly.

Who had a real Christmas tree, but it was what I would call the "Frosted Mini-Wheats" version of a Christmas tree, where it was white on the outside, as though you lived in Vermont? Anybody have that? Okay. There are a couple of you. I'm always confused by that one, because even in Vermont where the trees do get snow, no one has a tree like that inside of their house. I'm not exactly sure why, but there's a cult following. There's a group that does that.

So, there are all of the real Christmas trees. Who in this room had a fake Christmas tree growing up? You think it's irresponsible. Yeah. You are in the majority. In fact, there's 80-plus percent of Americans who do not do the real tree anymore. The vast majority of people do the fake tree. I and my family do the real tree, because we're Christians. (I'm just kidding. Good grief. I'm sick. I'm going to blame everything on the sickness. Save the email.)

We do a real tree. This is actually a real tree. Sometimes people will call a real tree something it's not. They'll say, "Hey, do you do a live tree?" This happened this past week. "Do you do a live tree or a fake tree?" People unknowingly, kind of just slip of the tongue, it happens. One thing that is very clear about this tree is despite the fact it is a real Christmas tree, it is not alive. The moment it was separated from its root system at whatever farm out there these guys' manly dad chopped it down, it was dead, and it is no longer alive.

That kind of goes without saying. You're like, "Why are you telling us this?" It can appear on the outside, if you look at it… You may go, "Maybe that thing could be alive. If I saw it outside and I didn't know what was at the base, I could be like, 'Oh, I think that thing is alive.'" But when you get close to it, you realize it has been chopped off. It's dead, without question, despite the fact that on the outside it still looks very close to what it did when it was alive.

What does that have to do with what we're talking about tonight? The Bible says that when sin entered the world, everything was placed underneath the curse of death. If you've ever read the Bible and hear things like, "Death entered and everything died and everything has been dead ever since," and you look at it, you can find yourself going, "Everything died? Really? Everything was broken and put under the curse of death? I know a lot of people. They look very much alive. I have a dog that looks very much alive. I have trees in the backyard that look very much alive. Everything was put underneath the curse of death?"

In the same way that it's hard to tell right now if this is alive or dead, the longer time goes on… When we get to January 1 or January 2, this thing will not look like this anymore. It's going to look droopy all the way down, and any ornaments that were a part of it are totally pulling it down. These are just going to fall off, and it'll be increasingly clear. "Oh, that thing was dead. It is dead, and it's clear to see it's dead."

So it is in this life. The Bible says everything was placed under the curse of sin. In a moment, you may go, "Really? Is everything underneath the curse of sin?" which means the curse of death. It can seem like it's alive. Then the older you get, you bump into realities that are a part of our broken world that are reminders that everything is underneath the fall. Whatever dog you have, your dog ends up dying.

Whatever person or family you're a part of, you are going to bury your parents or they're going to bury you. Whoever you marry someday, you're going to bury them or they're going to bury you, most likely. You just intersect and are confronted with the fact that this world is broken and not as it should be. When you try to come up with a solution or a remedy… I'm like, "How do I reconcile that, and what does that tell me? What's a worldview that I should approach that with?"

There are a lot of different ways you could think about addressing the brokenness of sin and the reality of things like greed and murder and school shootings and cancer and just tragic things, things that if you were creating a world you would never come up with. The Bible gives the solution, and it gives both the answers to why those things exist (we've covered that in the series), but it also does what no other religion does: it provides a solution for the remedy of those things. That remedy came in the person of Jesus.

We're about to celebrate Christmas. You're going to see a ton of different things that fill the streets and fill different legacy strip malls and different lights that all celebrate this Christmastime, but Christmas was God bringing about and introducing to the world the remedy for the brokenness that is here.

So, as we walk through some of the things that are in Jesus' genealogy, I just want to pull out three really fast things. It's going to be a shorter message tonight, but I think they answer some of the biggest questions that not only every other world religion fails to answer, because they all claim you can fix the problems in our world if you just try harder or you can have a relationship with God if you just do enough good things. Christianity doesn't claim that. It claims something entirely different.

I want to start back in verse 1 of chapter 1 and highlight some of the verses and point them out. A lot of times, when I read genealogies, it's like, "What in the world? Skip; move on," until you have enough time and space to study it and really evaluate what is being said and why Matthew includes the things he does here. Here's what genealogies would have been in the ancient times. They were a big deal. They were like a résumé.

They're not a really big deal to us. You have Ancestry.com. You show up at your job, and you're like, "Look at all of these people." They're like, "We don't care. Get your job done." But in this time, it was a really big deal to have a genealogy. Only kings or people of great esteem would have a genealogy. Inside of the genealogy would often include, very intentionally, not some of the worst parts of your family past. You would conveniently skip over those.

If you read the caesars, you remember some of the ancient kings… They have genealogies, and they would skip hundreds of years where you're like, "I'm pretty sure there was something that happened there." They would skip them, because they didn't want to include some of the worst parts of their story, and they would include the best parts of their story, always. Matthew's genealogy is incredibly different from that.

In verse 1, I'll highlight the first idea really quickly, the fastest of all three. It says, "This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham…" The word Messiah means deliverer. "This is a record of Jesus, the Deliverer whom God would send to this world." It means the anointed deliverer God would raise up.

Do you know what the word Jesus means? God saves. Even the name and the words Jesus the Messiah is almost redundant. Matthew is driving home in the title and even the name Jesus is given… The word Jesus is the word Yeshua, which means God is salvation. God is the one who saves. The solution God introduced into the world was not some religious experience or some list of dos and don'ts. It was a solution that you and I need a Savior.

Christianity does not express that "Good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell, so just try to do good things." It expresses that everyone who ever lived and lives and is alive is a messed-up person who doesn't deserve to have a relationship with God, but there's a Savior who showed up, and he gives forgiveness to anyone who will just receive it by faith. It doesn't teach that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell; it teaches saved or forgiven people go to heaven, and the only way to get forgiveness is through Jesus and what he did.

God sent a Savior, which is distinctly, radically different… You may not be a Christian, because a lot of times at holidays different people will show up or be a part of nights like tonight. You may have walked in here and you don't have a Christian faith. You don't have any faith. You're just figuring this whole thing out. One thing that is abundantly clear, if you do any amount of study as it relates to the major world religions, is Christianity is in a category all by itself.

All of the other world religions are "Hey, do these five things. You need to pray five times a day. Here are the different pillars. Here are the things God wants. You have to make sure you're circumcised. There's a covenant relationship God has." You go through Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, any of the major world religions, and none of them put forward the picture that Jesus does. "Everybody is messed up, and the good news is I came to be God who saves." That's what Jesus means. God who delivers. So that verse reads, "The beginning genealogy of the God who saves, who delivers his people."

The second idea I want to pull out comes from the people Jesus included. Not only did Jesus include some of the worst parts; he included something very unusual, which was women. At that time, it was a patriarchal society, and you would not include women in the genealogy, because the bloodline and rights and estate passed through the men. Matthew doesn't just include women; he goes out of his way to include specific women.

Let me read the verses again. "Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers." This is verse 2. Why did he include that phrase? I just want to highlight, some of the stuff Matthew does here is very intentional. He's communicating a message, and I'm going to explain what I mean by that in a second. This is the first one. As it relates to Jesus' family tree, he goes in and says, "Hey, do you know who God chose?"

Judah was one of 12 brothers. He had 11 brothers, and then there's Judah. Some of them were not so bad, some of them were not good at all, and then there was one really good guy named Joseph. God, when it came to "Here's the blood the Savior of the world is going to come through…" He's the superhero of the Bible: Jesus. God looked down and chose, out of all of the 12 brothers who were the grandchildren of Abraham… "Who am I going to choose?" He chose Judah.

What do we know about Judah? Judah had a couple of things. If you were to look at his life, there was a time where his brothers came around… There were 12 of them, and remember I said Joseph was kind of the favorite. He was Dad's favorite. He was the kid who got straight A's in school. He was the star of the community, and his brothers hated him for it. One day, they were like, "Hey, we should kill him. He's Dad's favorite. I'm so done with him."

One of the brothers says, "No, let's not kill him; let's sell him as a slave." So they take their brother, throw him in a pit, and sell him as a slave. Judah and his brothers go and kill a lamb, and they take their brother's jacket and rub it in this blood, and they bring it back to their dad and say, "Joseph is dead." For 20 years, they carried that lie. For 20 years, Judah carried that lie. Who makes up the family tree of Jesus? Liars.

If that wasn't bad enough, look at the next verse where it talks about Judah's kids. I don't know if you caught this, but it says, "Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar)." This is one of the more shocking, crazy stories…I'm talking like Game of Thrones stories…in the Old Testament. Here's what happened. Judah has some sons. He was married, and he had these three boys, and eventually his wife dies, but he still has these three kids. His kids grow up. One of them is named Er, and he decides, "I'm going to get this boy a wife."

So he goes out and gets Tamar. Tamar and Er get married. Er, we're told, was also not a good guy, and so wicked that it just says God killed him. There you go. There's food for thought. He was so wicked God put an end to him. It's what you do. He made you; he can do that. Anyway, in that culture, the brother would then marry the wife. I know that's crazy and weird and really uncomfortable to think about, but that was just normal at that time.

Judah went and basically said, "Hey, I'm not going to give you my son, but someday when my other son gets old enough I'll come back, and we're going to get you married, Tamar." Tamar is going, "Who's going to provide for me?" He's like, "Just go back and live with your family and your parents. I'll come get you whenever my youngest son gets of age." Again, it's so creepy and weird to think about, but that was the story.

Tamar is over there living life. She's with her parents. She's like, "Yeah, I'm here. Judah is going to come get me when the young boy gets of age," and it never happens. He gives that other child away, and he gets married. She's left going, "What do I do?" So she dresses up as a prostitute and goes up on the road. She knows that Judah was out and he was in heat. She posed on the side of the road as a prostitute. She totally veiled herself. Judah goes and has sex with his daughter-in-law whose husband was dead. His wife was dead. It doesn't make it any less creepy.

In his defense, she was dressed as a prostitute, but whenever your defense includes, "Well, she was dressed as a prostitute," it's not a great defense to stand on. Time goes on, and three months go by, we're told, and she's pregnant with her father-in-law's babies. Judah, before he knew they were his babies, finds out, "Hey, your daughter-in-law has been sleeping around, been unfaithful," and he's like, "We need to bring her into the city square and burn her alive." That's what he responds with.

Then she shows up and says, "Hey, the man whose staff I took whenever we were sleeping together is the father of the children." Judah realized, "That's my staff. Oh no. I'm in trouble. Everything is fine. We'll get a game plan in place." But this was the person. So not only do you have that added, you have incest. In the family line, this was one of the more uncomfortable, scandalous parts of the line of Jesus.

So, when you look at who's a part of the family tree of Jesus, you have a liar, you have an incest. What happens next? We're told, "Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab)." Rahab had a stigma and a nickname attached to her. If you grew up in Sunday school like me, you know this. You saw it on the felt board. It was "Rahab, the prostitute." She wasn't just a prostitute; she was a foreigner, a Canaanite, which basically was a big deal back then.

The Jewish mindset was "God loves the Jews, and he's really focused about us. Give me a J. Give me an E. Give me a W. That's who God is all about." So to have a foreigner was not a great thing, let alone a foreigner who was a prostitute, if you read the story of Joshua. Rahab was this prostitute in this foreign city who God showed favor on. Not just favor in that he allowed her to live (you can go read the story later); favor in that he said, "She is going to be the great-great-great-great-grandma of Jesus, the Savior of the world."

Think about that. If you were Matthew and you're writing this and going out of your way to include Rahab the prostitute, think about how uncomfortable… How uncomfortable would you be if this Thanksgiving…? Maybe some of you guys are dating. You're going over to their house. You're going to go meet the family. It's a big deal. Here we go. We're meeting the family.

While you're hanging out, the family pulls out the family lineage book and some pictures of Grandma and Great-Grandma and all the different stuff. You're going through it, and they go out of their way to highlight, "Oh, this is Beverly. She was a prostitute. She wasn't just any prostitute; she was good at what she did. She made it rain." You would go, "Okay. I am so uncomfortable right now, and I don't know if he's weird or if just everyone here is weird."

That's what Matthew is doing. He's going out of his way to say, "You remember Rahab, the prostitute. That was Grandma." That's who's a part of Jesus' family tree. So add prostitution to the list. Then last week, we covered the story of David. The shade Matthew throws at David in this moment is tremendous. He's doing it intentionally. He says, "David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah)." Matthew, why are you bringing up former marriages right now? Why would you feel like you need to introduce that?

If you were here last week, you heard that David had the moment in his life that was the worst moment of his life where he decided, after going up on the rooftop, being in a place he shouldn't have been, he looks across and sees a naked woman bathing on the rooftop. Probably also not a great thing for her to be doing. He decides, "I want to sleep with her." He goes and gets her, and he's told, "That's Uriah's wife. Uriah is one of your best friends. He's one of your mighty men." David says, "I don't care."

He goes and sleeps with her. He thought it would just be some one-night stand. Oh no. Finds out she's pregnant, and he decides, "I'm going to get my boy Uriah. He's going to come home." "Uriah, good game. I'm going to let you go hang out with your wife for a night," hoping they would sleep together, because that's what you do if you've been gone for a while. Uriah says, "All of my men are fighting at war. I'm not going anywhere."

David is like, "Okay, cool," and he tries to get him drunk. He's like, "Another one on me. It's okay. The palace has got it." He gets Uriah drunk, but Uriah's integrity is so great, he just sleeps on the doorstep of the palace. He says, "I'm not going home. My men can't, so I'm not." David realizes his plan to cover up that adultery to make Uriah think it's his baby boy is not going to work, so he decides one of his best friends would just be a casualty, and he tries to cover up that sin.

He sends word. "Uriah, go back to the troops who are at war." He writes to the commander, "I want you to take Uriah and put him where the fighting is fiercest, and then with a signal from you, pull everyone back but Uriah." Certain death. And it happened. Bathsheba… The pregnancy takes place. She's pregnant with David's baby, and God says, "The baby is not going to live." Bathsheba ends up becoming one of David's wives. He had several wives.

When God said, "Who is going to be the great-great-grandmother of Jesus, the Savior of the world?" he didn't choose Michal, who was another of David's wives. He chose Bathsheba, a woman who had been… Matthew goes out of his way to go, "And remember, just so we're all on the same page, she had been Uriah's wife." This never should have happened. That's the woman who God said, "These will be the two." That's Solomon's mom.

Then he includes Solomon, so not only do you add… When you add David and Bathsheba to the list, you have to add murder and adultery. The list in the family lineage of Jesus Matthew is highlighting very intentionally in a way no other lineage in the Bible does. No other place do they go out of their way to be like, "Whose mother had been Bathsheba, Uriah's wife." He's highlighting it.

Then you go to Solomon, and we're told in the next verse, "Solomon was the father of Rehoboam." What do we know about Solomon? Solomon started off well, as we covered in Rated R for Romance, but he went on and chased one sex relationship after the next, and eventually, under what by any standard of definition today we would call a sex addict, he had 700 wives and 300 concubines, which basically was like, "Hey, you don't get the rights of a wife, but I get the rights to your body." A thousand people.

Solomon, this polygamist, possibly sex addict, would be further… David had several children, and God said, "That one." Matthew doesn't want you to miss the point. Then you keep going. The stories and the people… We could go over Ahaz. Do you know what Ahaz was most famous for as a king? He burned his son alive because he worshiped foreign gods. Ahaz was known as the worst king in Israel.

Jacob, the son originally of Isaac, who stole the birthright. Every turn that you look, Matthew is communicating… If you look over Jesus' family tree, all of it is so jacked up. Matthew, why would you go out of your way to point out the prostitute and that guy who committed incest? That was just gross. Then murder. You had adultery. Why would you go out of your way to do this, Matthew? Because Matthew knew those were the point of the gospel he was about to write.

That's the point of Christianity. Jesus came from sinners, and he came for sinners, because everyone out there is a sinner. Everyone is so broken and in need of someone to save them, and Matthew knew… "I'm including these because they are the point of the story I'm about to write." Further, here's why I think Matthew included it. Do you know what each one of those people have in common?

You have Rahab the prostitute. You have Ruth the Moabitess, which means she's a foreigner. Jesus was a mutt. He was not purebred. You have Judah, the liar and the coward. Jacob, the thief. Each one of them had this stigma and a label attached to it. Do you know who also had a stigma and a label attached to him? Matthew. Matthew, before he met Jesus, was known as "Matthew, the tax collector," and then he meets Jesus and starts a relationship with this guy who changed everything.

So Matthew when it came to writing… He knew this new relationship he had to Jesus totally redefined what defined him. He was no longer a tax collector. There's not a modern-day equivalent of what a tax collector is, because that doesn't mean much to us other than nobody is like, "I love the IRS." But in that day, it wasn't just the IRS; it was the IRS meets the mafia meets a pimp. There isn't a modern equivalent to it, but they were hated by everyone.

To be a tax collector meant you had to abandon religion. You were basically like, God, if he is real, doesn't care about them at all. Matthew was sitting at a tax booth collecting money. He had the right to take as much money as he wanted from anybody. We're told Jesus walks up and says, "I haven't given up on you. You may have given up on God. I don't care about your past. I don't care about your present. I care about the ways it's impacting you and hurting you and things like that, but it's not going to keep me from wanting a relationship with you."

Matthew knew the labels the world had assigned him, that his past would have given him, were all redefined by his relationship with Jesus. Every person we just listed out has been redefined not by the labels the world… Rahab has gone down in history as not a woman who slept around and was a prostitute. The most famous title she holds is she is the grandmother of Jesus. Your relationship with Christ redefines and trumps any other worldly definition or stigma or anything from your past.

Third idea: Christ redefines what defines us. When you put your faith, as a Christian, in him, anything the world attaches to you, all of your past, anything that you attach… "I'm damaged goods. I'm someone who had an abortion. I'm someone who pushed my girlfriend to have an abortion. I am a porn addict. I am a thief and a liar. I'm someone who has totally abandoned my family. I don't even have the ability to save face when I go home because of all of the different ways I've hurt people in my hometown, and I'm ashamed."

Matthew would say, "The reason I included all of the dysfunction and brokenness in the family tree is because that's the point." No matter how far you feel like you are from God, he hasn't stopped pursuing you. His mission was to come from sinners because he came for sinners, and everybody is a sinner.

If I were to add some of mine to the list, what would represent some of the things Jesus came and hung for me would be pornography, lust, fear of man…all of these different things I would hang on my family tree, if you will, or just the tree of my life…anger, sexual sin with past relationships. I don't know what would be on your tree…greed, and a thousand other things that can mark it. Matthew included these people because he knew they were the point.

Jesus, in all of the brokenness of his family tree, came and hung on a tree for them and for you and for anyone who would trust in him and even those who don't. In doing so, he redefines and changes every label that's out there. It's no longer pornography; it's loved. It's no longer adultery; it's clean. It's no longer theft; it's forgiven. It's no longer fear of man; it's alive. It's no longer sexual sin; it's restored. It's no longer anger; it's righteousness.

Whatever label you carry, if you are in Christ, as crazy as you think that is, spiritually speaking, the Bible says you have been redefined. No matter what your present sin struggle is, no matter what your past sin struggle is, all of it has been redefined because of a relationship you have with Christ. Every single year, do you know what's interesting? We do something at Christmastime. We're about to enter into it, like I said.

There's a tradition that kind of marks society, where we take things and hang them on a tree. Whether or not society ever realizes it, they're doing that in a season that is devoted to the birth of a Messiah who came and hung on a tree. I hope you never look at ornaments the same way again. Every ornament out there that sits and hangs on a tree is all about a celebration of the birth of Christ who came and was hung on a tree for you and for me, was hung on a tree for all of the brokenness and messed-up stuff inside of his life.

The tree that defines humanity doesn't have to be the original tree in the garden of Eden. Think about it. Jesus' family tree is jacked up. It's messed up, just like your tree is messed up and my family tree is messed up and my heart is messed up and your heart is messed up. It honestly makes sense that his tree would be so broken, because it was at a tree that our world became so broken…in Genesis, chapter 3, when sin was introduced.

The message of the gospel and the message of Christmas, which doesn't have to be celebrated on December 25…it's celebrated every single day…is that one has come who was born to die in our place, to hang on a tree, and what defines us is not the tree from the garden where sin was introduced but a tree that was made into a cross where our Messiah, our Savior, the Son of David, Jesus, the God who saves, was crucified for you and for me.

You were handed an ornament when you walked into this room. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to give you a chance for the next few minutes… I just want you to write out one of the millions of different sins that are inside of your life that Jesus hung on that cross for. You should have been given a Sharpie. There are about 1,800 in about 3,000, so there's going to be some passing around.

I want to challenge you. You can write on anything. Let's be honest. If you're going, "Oh man, it's really hard for me to think of," I'm concerned about you, because today there were probably a million sins that were committed in my heart and in my mind. You write out any of them…anger, resentment, bitterness. For some of you, I want to challenge you. Whatever the one you're thinking, "Oh, I don't want to write that because I'm with these people," you should probably write that one. These are stories that God sets people free.

I want to give you a chance, and then we're going to have a chance for you, once you write that down, to go hang it. We're going to hang on trees all throughout this worship center sins that Jesus already hung for on a tree. Those things don't define us anymore, and when you put them on that tree, it's almost a symbolic representation of "This doesn't define me. The other tree, the tree that was made to a cross does, so I can put this on here and hang up whatever sin is there, because there's one who already hung for me."

Over the next five to eight minutes the band is going to play, and then I'm going to come close us out, but right now, write it down, and then you can just go to those trees all throughout here. There are 10, and we're going to leave them there. This is a testimony. "God, this is the way you worked in our lives, and these don't define me. You do."

[Pause]

Here's the thing I want to highlight before our Porch.Live locations sign off and go do something similar at their location. All of humanity, as we described the very first week, was impacted and placed into a family tree where sin tarnished everything through that tree in the garden where Adam and Eve fell, and when you put your faith in Christ, your family tree is no longer the one you're a part of or even the broader, broken, sinful humanity tree. That's not the family tree that marks you. You have been placed into the family tree of Jesus, and your relationship with him redefines your past, reshapes the future you have, and redefines what defines you.

It's not a tree with a piece of fruit; it's a tree that was made into a cross by the God of the universe who's crazy in love with you in such a way that there are no words I could even put to describe how scandalous, how amazing it is that God, who came from sinners, came for sinners, and whatever your story is, he hasn't forgotten you. He loves you, he has plans for you, and the best, I hope, is yet to come for you. Even if it's not, if you're a believer, it is in heaven. So we're going to worship him one more time with two more songs as we end 2019 at The Porch. Let's go.

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