“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew 1:1
In the last few years, my husband has been doing research on his ancestry. He has been able to trace one line of his family back to English nobility and has been able to view the ruins of a castle in which they once lived. As surprising as this information was, he later found, in a different family line, a member of his family who ended up in prison for murder in the 1800’s. His family tree is reflective of all our family trees. We might have some great ancestors who have accomplished amazing feats, while, at the same time, we might have some branches we wish we could cut from the tree!
One of the most interesting accounts of the birth of Jesus is recorded by Matthew. It doesn’t start with angelic visits or the manger scene, instead it carefully lays out the lineage of Jesus beginning with Abraham, the first person to enter into a covenant relationship with God, through King David, a man after God’s own heart, and ending with Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. What is revolutionary about this family tree is that Matthew records four different women as part of Jesus’ ancestry. Remember, at the time Matthew wrote this, women were not considered important or significant. Yet, not only did Matthew record four women in the lineage, but these were scandalous women involved in adultery, murder, deceit, prostitution, and discrimination! Most of these women were not terrible people, but victims in a society that treated them as less than human, broken by situations that were, often, were not of their own creation! Matthew chose not even to name one of the women, referring to her as the wife of Uriah, the man that was killed due to her act of adultery. She was so insignificant that, generations later, her very name remained shunned!
But isn’t this lineage representative of who Jesus came to save: those of us who are shattered and broken by sin? While we are complicit in some sins, other sins are perpetrated upon us, leaving us marred by its effects! He came to save those whom society has deemed insignificant! He came to redeem those whose reputations have been destroyed! So when I read the names of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah), I am reminded that, “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)!