Here is a Christmas riddle for you. Who was older than his mother and the same age as his father on the day of his birth? You know the answer – Jesus! Last week, we strolled through the genealogy of Jesus as listed in the Gospel of Matthew and we beheld the mighty providential hand of God at work for generation after generation leading up to that very first Christmas when Jesus, the very Son of God would derobe His glorious state and be wrapped in human flesh and born of a virgin.
This week as we gaze back over that list of names may we notice the ones that seem to be out of place.
Matthew 1: 1-7, (NIV) – This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Any names seem odd to you while reading the ancestral line of the King of Kings? There are four that may seem very strange to us, but they are not strange to our LORD. Names such as Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and the mother of Solomon (Bathsheba). Why do these names stand out?
First, because they are women. In ancient times, listing the names of women in the genealogy would have been unheard of. A true student of history, culture and the Bible will find that Jesus has always went against social norms to elevate the worth of every human being, male or female, young or old, fair skinned, medium skinned or dark skinned. As the children’s song proclaims, “…they are all precious in His sight.”
Second, because each of these women had a personal history that surely lead to whispers of gossip in the community. I would dare say that when Matthew began publishing his Gospel letter that the genealogy struck a nerve in the pious hearts that would love nothing more than to erase these names for they would have been considered a blot, an embarrassment on their history.
Even in recent days here in America we are reminded of how each generation tries to find ways to remove the memorials of a people group’s past sins. However, Matthew doesn’t exclude these women, even with their scandalous pasts.
Remember their stories…
Her story is found in Genesis 38. The daughter-in-law of Judah. Her husband dies before they have a child. Tamar is then given in marriage to the next son and he dies before any pregnancy occurs. She is then promised to the third son, but he is very young and by the time he becomes of age, Judah does not give her to him to carry on the lineage. At this point, Tamar, knowing that Judah’s wife had passed away, she develops her own plan. She goes into town and puts a veil over her face and sits on the corner as a shrine prostitute precisely at the time of day she knows that Judah is coming to town. Sure enough, he sees her, but does not realize who she is. He bargains for her services and after an evening together, she becomes pregnant with the child of her father-in-law.
Her story is found in Joshua 2. A pagan prostitute in the city of Jericho. When the Israelites sent spies to scope out Jericho, they hid in Rahab’s home. No one would have been suspicious of men staying in a prostitute’s residence. Because of her generosity and desire to be rescued with the Israelites, God delivered Rahab and her family during the invasion and adopted her into the Israelite community.
Her story is found in the Biblical book that bears her name. A wonderful account of a moabite woman, despised by the Hebrews, marries a man from Bethlehem who has moved to Moab. Unfortunately, he, his brother and father soon die. His mother, Naomi, stricken with grief, decides to move back to Bethlehem. She instructs her two daughters-in-law to stay in Moab and find new husbands. However, Ruth refuses to stay behind. With incredible devotion, Ruth moves to Bethlehem and by the providence of God marries into the lineage of the Messiah.
It’s interesting that Matthew doesn’t give her name. Her’s alone is left out. Probably because the readers would have only recognized who she became. She became the mother of the richest, wisest King in Israel’s history. However, that is not how she began. Matthew starts there. Who was she before Solomon? She was an adulteress with King David – (2 Samuel 11).
Why are these names important? Why does Matthew include them leading up to the birth of our Savior? What is the message?
Christmas is about the Message of the Grace of God.
God doesn’t exclude these from the genealogy, neither does He label them by their sins – HE NAMES THEM BY THEIR NAME and takes each one of them and transforms their lives. Their troubled past becomes part of their tremendous testimony.
- Tamar = became the distant Grandmother of King David.
- Rahab = became the Great, Great Grandmother of King David.
- Ruth = became the Great Grandmother of King David.
- Bathsheba = became the Wife of King David.
The whole message of Christmas is God sending His Son to this world so that we may experience His Grace and forgiveness when we embrace Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. He can take our past and turn it into our testimony!
John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJV).
Have you received the Gift of God’s Amazing Grace? Celebrate His grace this Christmas. Share your story!
One thought on “Christmas and the Grace of God”
Even though I’ve heard this and read this most of my life this just gave another refreshing view of exactly how things were meant to be. Loved it