Sometimes when I read the Bible I’m tempted to skip over the parts where the author maps out the long and winding lineages that gets the reader from one point to another. It’s a never ending family tree of hard to pronounce names of people who we know little to nothing about.
But here’s the thing about the Bible that I’ve learnt this year a whole lot more, time and time again: there are no accidents. Every detail and word holds purpose and significance.
So if the writer is taking the time to painstakingly refer to genealogy then there is something we are meant to read and notice in the text.
That’s where Mathew 1:1-17 comes into play.
If you can, read the passage out loud and stammer your way through the terrible hard pronunciations. Do it alone so you avoid the embarrassment.
This passage is the genealogy of Jesus. This the lineage He comes down from- the 14 generations from Abraham to David and the 14 generations from David to Jesus the Messiah.
It’s all about Jesus.
A God who put on flesh and came down from Heaven not to leave things as they’d always been but to change the entire story and flip everything on its head.
In the genealogy of Jesus the names of five women are mentioned.
This is incredibly, incredibly rare. First off, women were rarely placed into a lineage during Bible times. It is likely that if we were going to have a lineage where women were named, then these women would have to be remarkable and outstanding. They’d be the best of the best citizens. They’d have no crimes on their records and no embarrassing stories from that one night when…
But this isn’t how the story of Jesus begins. It begins in our imperfection. It unfolds because of our imperfections.
And though our God is perfect and makes no mistakes, He is clear in this genealogy that He is not discounting anyone. He is not scrapping someone from the story because they don’t fit the mold. He is not interested in the perfect ones, he is interested in the ones who demonstrate faith and know their need for a Savior.
The women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus leading up to Mary – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, had occupations we stigmatize all the time.
Some of them come from people groups who were entirely discounted at that point in history. Some of them lied. Some of them committed adultery. Bathsheba, referred to as “Uriah’s wife” in the lineage, slept with David before he conspired to kill her husband. She’s often held up as an example in churches of “who not to be.” Tamar is most known for that one time she dressed up as a prostitute and tricked her father-in-law into having sex with her so she could carry a son through her dead husband’s bloodline.
Why include these messy stories in the lineage leading up to Jesus?
Because Jesus came for all of us. You and I and our incredibly messed up timelines where we’ve lied, cheated, stolen, gossiped, slandered, and lost our ways. He came to blot that stuff out, not to hang it over our heads or turn us into examples of who not to be. If that was the Jesus who entered into the story that cold night in Bethlehem, then God surely would have kept names like Tamar and Bathsheba out of the lineage.
This is a gut check for all of us. For all of us who have ever looked at someone who didn’t live like we live or act how we wanted to act and- instead of choosing to love them anyway— we’ve made snap judgments and we’ve burned them behind their backs.
This lineage is proof that the coming of Jesus is different.
It’s proof he came for ALL of us, not some of us.
It’s proof he looks past our circumstances and loves us even when we feel like we don’t deserve it.
Let’s not take Jesus’ love and turn it into this stingy, self-serving, only-love-people-when-they-meet-your-expectations kind of love. Because that’s not how Jesus loved.
Jesus didn’t come only for the ones of us who found their way and followed the path faithfully.
What makes Jesus so beautiful – so worth following – is that He came for the lost of us. For the hopeless. For the marginalized. For the torn down by society. For the ones on the borders. These are the ones he wanted all around his table. He makes room for ALL of us.
Be that invitation today.
So heartning, so human, so Jesus like…thanks for this message.