I read the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel last night. At first blush, it includes what looks like a typical genealogy (although there’s nothing typical about a genealogy when it belongs to the Son of God).
If you look close, you’ll notice something unusual: the list includes five women. This, despite the fact that the genealogy traces Jesus’ lineage through men (i.e., this father begat this son, who begat this son, etc., etc. all the way down to Joseph and, finally, Jesus).
I’ve heard sermons about this passage before, but the presence of these five women jumped out at me again last night.
Get this: the five women in Jesus’ lineage include a deceiver who slept with her father-in-law, a prostitute, a foreign unbeliever, an adulteress, and an unwed pregnant teenager.
What can you conclude about God from this startling fact? There were many other wives of the men in this lineage who He could have mentioned. But He chose these five women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Why?
Well, I dare not speak for God, but here’s what I get about Him from this passage: He is a God of mercy and grace.
All of the women endured difficult circumstances. Some responded heroically; others, horribly. But God showed mercy on all of them. The deceiver was declared righteous. The prostitute-turned-spy saved a nation. The foreigner embraced the one true God of Israel. The adulteress became queen. The pregnant teenager married, then gave birth to the Messiah.
But more than that, God amazingly blessed each of these women by including them and their children in the lineage of the Son of God, even though several of these children were born out of adultery and sin. Then God saw fit to mention these five women in the male-dominated genealogy.
I don’t know about you, but it chokes me up to think how much Jesus and His Father loved these women to include them in this list, how He wants us to know that NONE of us are beyond His loving redemption. He can take the lumps of coal we have made of our lives and turn them into a diamonds — not that life will necessarily be easy, but that somehow we can know and serve Him no matter who we are or what we have done in our past.
Oh, Lord, fill me with assurance that you will not just redeem my sins, but the sins of others in my life. Help me to know and rest in your grace. Remind me that you have loved the unlovely, have showered unmerited blessings on sinners. And help me to do the same. Amen.