Matthew 1:1-11 (ESV)
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
As we begin our journey through the four biographies of Jesus—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—it is tempting to rush through “write off” the genealogies as a waste of time. But if we do this, we may end up overlooking many fascinating truths. For example, in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus we find four questionable women: Tamar in verse 3, Rahab and Ruth in verse 5, and Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah) in verse 6. All four of these women were involved in problematic situations in the Old Testament. Although not from the nation of Israel herself, Ruth was a widow who pursued a Jewish man. Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, was taken by King David and involved in adultery. Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked her father-in-law into having sex with her because his sons wouldn’t do what was right. And Rahab was both a Gentile and a prostitute. Wow! What a mess! At face value, these women would seem unlikely candidates for salvation. Could God actually use them?
Not only did God use them, but he placed all four of these women in the genealogy of his sinless Son. It’s staggering to think that God ordained Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba to be branches in Jesus’ family tree. Those who knew these women, and even the four women themselves, probably never imagined they would be factored into the Messiah’s lineage. Let us never forget that although he hates and will judge sin, God is a God of grace. What an amazing reminder for us today as we may feel overly discouraged by our past failures! Do you feel like you’ve messed up your life so much that God could never use you? A thought like that is simply inconsistent with what the Scripture teaches. God can do anything he wants with repentant sinners. Sure, we all have to deal with the consequences of our sin, but God is able to be glorified even in the midst our regrets. He is a God who specializes in righting wrongs and making the crooked straight. It’s day one of another year. What a great time to start your life anew with Jesus. Let’s begin this year by asking God to forgive us of our past disasters and purposing to do things his way. Put your spiritual goals at the top of your “to do” list, and make your next year of life about following Jesus.