Men of Faith
The book starts by describing the genealogy of "Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." It is important to mention that his lineage leads to these two significant people in history. David was a king, a great king during his time. He was also the one whom God described as man after His own heart (Acts 13:22). To mention that Jesus Christ came from David is to say that He came from a royal blood not only in man's eyes but God's as well. Then if we go back fourteen generations before David, there was Abraham who was labeled by God as righteous when, in faith, he obeyed God on things that were not obvious. These two men are men of faith, and they are the trunk of Jesus' family tree. We can say they are the best of the best and yet they were not perfect. The scriptures have recorded poor choices that these men made. However, by grace, it was their relationship with God that determined who they were.
It was customary in those old Jewish days to put in writing a record of who begat whom. Such records, however, normally only included names of men...fathers and sons. Matthew, the author of the book of Matthew, included the names of four girls or women in Jesus' genealogy. That must have created horror among the readers and hearers of the book. Everyone must have posted it on Facebook. They are getting 200 comments per post. Everyone tweeting everyone about this unusual inclusion of women in this highly masculine tradition of genealogy. What's more...three of the four women are all of questionable reputation.
- Tamar. Let's begin with Tamar. Who is she? It's a long story (Genesis 38). God intended for the Son of Man (Jesus) to come from Judah (Revelation 5:5). However, Judah's first born, Er, was wicked and God, probably, thought that he did not qualify to be listed later in the genealogy of Jesus, so he zapped him. Onan, Er's brother, was supposed to marry Tamar to give a child to Er, but he refused the idea and made God angry. Guess what happens? God zapped Onan. So you see, Judah's chance to be in the list is getting very slim...he has only his youngest son left. Then she made a poor choice, disguising herself as a prostitute and luring her father-in-law to bed. But God even used her poor choice to make things happen.
- Rahab. Rahab's story is more straight-forward...she was a prostitute from Jericho (Joshua 2:1). She helped the Jews take over Jericho because believed their God. Later on she lived with them and ended up marrying one of them. She eventually became the mother of Boaz.
- Ruth. Probably Ruth, the Moabitess, is better than the first two, you might say. The Moabites were Semitic, descended from Abraham's nephew Lot through incest (Genesis 19:30-31). There was a long history of tension between Moab and Israel through history. Ruth would appear suspect because her background. But she chose wisely when she had an opportunity to do so. She then became the wife of Boaz.
- Bathsheba. The mother of Solomon didn't even get her name mentioned, but every reader would have understood the story. David takes advantage of her husbands' absence and impregnates her, then, after her husband is killed by David, becomes his wife.
Just Like You and Me
Connections make or unmake a person. To those whose predecessors already had them, honor and glory comes easily, although there is no assurance that they remain. Mrs. Bucket in the TV show, "Keeping Up Appearances" is always trying to hide her undesirable connections. She covers up the fact that she is related to Daisy and Onslo (poor sister and brother-in law), and Rose her wild sister. She likes to brags about her rich sister Violet but not about Violet's husband who dresses up like a girl. In this culture, we tend to associate our reputation with who we are associated with. We show our value based on our origins and we discriminate those whose roots we consider inferior by our standards. Jesus Christ became man in spite of his deity. He was born in a humble stable in spite of his royal descent. He was born to poor parents instead of to a prince and princess. He came to live among His people and lived like one of them. He is perfect and yet He came with some blemished background just like all of us.
Why is His genealogy written as such? First of all, it is to show us that God carries out His promise no matter how long it may take. When God called Abraham, He made a promise to bless him and that the whole world would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:1-2). How many generations did it take before His plan of salvation came to the first hint of fruition? God is faithful to his promises.
Secondly, it is to show us that what we were is not what matters but it is what we choose when it comes to our relationship with God that matters. When we choose to obey God He honors us. He confirms His connection with us just like the way He did with Abraham and David. When we decide to follow Him He reverses our destiny from shame and condemnation to honor and value just like He did with Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth.
Therefore, the next time you read the genealogy of Jesus Christ, consider it beyond a list of hard-to-pronounce names.