Count Down to Christmas — part 2

Matthew 1:1-17

boatyardIt’s easy to let your eye slide right over the genealogy of Jesus — those names are unfamiliar and hard to pronounce – but if you do, you’ll miss some rare jewels! It is common in a patristic society to list only the names of the fathers in a genealogy, so when Matthew includes five women, we should take note.

The first thing we see is that these women are not the sterling mothers of the Bible. Where is Sarah or the great queens of the kingdom? Instead, it’s almost like Matthew has gone out of his way to list the “shady women in the tree.”

The first, Tamar (v. 3), tricked her father-in-law, the patriarch Judah into fathering her son (Genesis 38). The second, Rahab (v. 5), had been a prostitute (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25). The third, Ruth (v. 5) was a woman of great virtue, but the circumstances of her proposal to Boaz were prone to suspicion (Ruth 3). The fourth woman in the tree, Bathsheba, isn’t even named directly because of the shame of her adulterous affair with David (v. 6; cf. 2 Samuel 11). She is “referred to only as ‘Uriah’s wife,’ perhaps to remind the reader of David’s adulterous and murderous behavior.”[1]

Finally, the fifth woman in the genealogy is Mary the mother of Jesus (v. 16), but what links Mary with the previous four “shady” women in tree? It must have been known that Mary was pregnant when Joseph married her and it was scandalous to become pregnant out of wedlock (Matthew 1:17, 18).

God’s love is not reserved for “perfect people.” He loves even the broken – perhaps especially the broken. David was an adulterer, murderer and many other things besides, but still he was called a “man after God’s own heart.” Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba were hardly perfect, but the Gospel of Matthew links them with Mary the mother of Jesus. Perhaps there’s hope for us!

[1] Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 55). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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