March 8 I Tuesday
“Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth…David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.” —Matthew 1:3, 5-6
Matthew, who was an accountant by trade, presented the genealogy of Jesus in a structured and specific way. He was intentional with drawing the audience’s attention to the legal and theological presentation of Jesus’s validity to be the Messiah. Yet, what is fascinating in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus was that he broke from historical and cultural convention by listing the names of four women. To his early readers, this would have been an explicit and intentional act because nobody would include women in their genealogies from his day. As Matthew was writing with a Jewish audience in mind, this would have certainly grabbed their attention.
Matthew wrote, “Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife” (Matthew 1:2-6). The four women mentioned were Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba.
For those of us who are familiar with the Bible, we know that these women and the stories surrounding them in the Old Testament are full of scandal. They are the stories that we would not normally talk about when we are at family reunions or get-togethers, because all of these stories contain some stigma, usually involving sexual promiscuity. Yet, Matthew explicitly called our attention to these moments. Breaking the conventional approach to a genealogy, Matthew was jarring the reader to stop and pay attention.
Peter tells us, “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Matthew, although he was the author of the Gospel, was carried along by the Holy Spirit when he penned Jesus’s genealogy. It was as though the Spirit of God Himself was saying, “I want these stories included in the announcement of My Son.”
Some of us may be afraid of other people knowing our sinful past, but God is not afraid of controversy and going into the secret hidden places of our lives. God was intentional with including the lives—and the stories—of these four women to be part of the arrival of His Son, the Saviour of the world. May we realize that our past does not define our new life in Christ.
Prayer: Dear God, how grateful I am that You can use even the most sordid pasts to be a part of Your amazing grace. Thank You that my own past does not define my new life in You. Praise You!