The Bad Women in Jesus Christ’s Past

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.

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4 thoughts on “The Bad Women in Jesus Christ’s Past

  1. Wow. Another awesome post. I identify with Mary the most. How about you?
    I think about the scriptures and the significance of women’s responses to faith and Jesus a lot. I haven’t written about it, but I believe that God has called me to blog, one for my own healing, but two because it is my expression and experience as a woman of faith that needs to be heard. When I first started on WordPress some of my readers thought that I was male.

    Keep blogging. We may just be modern day witness, women being used of God in a male dominated Christian blog domain.

    Thanks for the encouragement! I have the hardest time with Tamar (that’s a future blog). I’ll have to think about who I identify with in that list… I do like Rahab cause that spying job seemed kind of cool!

  2. Hi! Just stumbled across your blog and thought I would add a few thoughts.

    When I was younger, I remember hearing teachers say that the inclusion of the first four (presumably Gentile) women in the genealogy was significant in this way:
    *Tamar – was brought into the blessing as a result of her sin
    *Rahab – was brought into the blessing as a result of her faith
    *Ruth (from Moab) – was brought into the blessing in spite of what the law said [Deuteronomy 23:3]
    *Bathsheba – already had a part in the blessing; she remained a part of the blessing in spite of her failure

    I suppose we could add to this the one Jewish woman:
    *Mary – has a place in this chapter because of divine grace shown in choosing her to be the mother of Christ

    These women, they taught, were pictures of the believer:
    * Like Tamar, my sinfulness has made me eligible for redemption’s blessing
    * Like Rahab, faith brings me into redemption’s blessing
    * Like Ruth, I have been brought into redemption’s blessing in spite of the law (which would keep me out because I have broken it)
    * Like Bathsheba, I am eternally kept in redemption’s blessing by Christ, in spite of my failings and sin
    * Like Mary, I am a part of the blessing because God has for some reason unknown to me, chosen to show grace towards me

  3. Good observations. There are many little clues in the Bible that God shows favor toward those who might be overlooked or even despised by others.

    Me: I agree. Including Jesus Himself, who was “despised and rejected.”

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