Saturday, September 20, 2008

What My Mom Showed Me- Women in Jesus's Geneology

My dear mother (and father) came to visit me (unexpectedly) for my 29th birthday last week. I got to show them our new plot of land that we will be moving to soon. Here's a picture I took of us on the hike through the woods.

One of the things I LOVE about my mom is that she is always learning. She's a life-long student and she's always sharing new ideas she's found or asking me good, hard questions that get me thinking.

I wanted to share something she recently shared with me.

Did you know that the women in Jesus' genealogy all indicate something pretty significant about who Jesus would be on earth?

Let me go through them (you can find these women in Matthew 1, but first, keep in mind . . .

  • Women are not usually included in genealogies
  • Something positive can be said for each of these women
  • Something scandalous was a part of each of these woman's lives and yet,
  • Something amazing came out of each woman's scandal so much so that
  • Something about Jesus is revealed by each woman's presence in Matthew's gospel

The Amazing, Scandalous Women in Jesus' Bloodline
  1. Tamar- a woman who dressed up as a prostitute to get her father-in-law (Judah) to mis-identify her and sleep with her. She did it to conceive a child (actually she gave birth to twins, Perez and Zerah, Matt. 1:3) to continue her deceased husband's family line. Her courage saved her life when she revealed who the father was. Jesus came to restore women like this, widowed women who had experienced marginalization (Tamar was overlooked and shamed for years before she conceived). Jesus would restore personal equality and the dignity of women with men.
  2. Rahab- a reputation for morally indiscreet behavior. But she was also a woman who knew how and when to help the spies in Canaan. She is exactly the type of person who knows they are sick and need salvation. Jesus came to save women like this.
  3. Ruth- a Gentile, a Moabitess no less, who risked her reputation to propose to Boaz, a man substantially wealthier and older than her. Their great-grandson was King David. Jesus came through another young, bold woman who also risked her reputation to bear a "fatherless" child in Bethlehem. Ruth's presence also indicates something Matthew will be emphasizing, Jesus came to save every ethnic group. The presence of non-Jewish women in Jesus' genealogy was God's way of showing that while the law required Jesus' male ancestors be Jewish, the Gentile women did not taint Jesus. Matthew makes a point here about God's inclusive plan by using Gentile women. Jesus was for all people.
  4. Bathsheba- who even in this narrative is not called by named but called "the wife of Uriah" which tells us how significant marriage is held by Jesus. His teaching would end the easy divorce practiced even by religious leaders and yet, Bathsheba's presence in Jesus' genealogy, as the mother of Solomon, proves that God wove Bathsheba and David's adulterous union to bring blessing on earth.
  5. Mary- the mother of Jesus. Who experienced misunderstanding for her entire life, but who was the first human participant in the incarnation.
  6. Each of these women represent a crucial period in Jewish history, each reminds us of the faith of someone in the face of the many Jews who lacked faith
  • Tamar's faith to fulfill the law, even when her father-in-law denied her another husband.
  • Rahab's faith in contrast to Israel's desert skeptics.
  • Uriah's faith, a Hittite, to go to battle and refuse to sleep with his wife, Bathsheba, even through the King David commanded him to do so (to cover up his sexual liaison with her and the new pregnancy)
  • Ruth's faith to return with Naomi to learn a new God and a new people. Ruth, the foreigner, worked for food and found provision during the time of the Judges when most of Israel was faithless.
  • Mary's faith that God would give her a son who would be Messiah, even while most religious teachers and leaders never acknowledged him or stamped him with their approval.

I'm glad my mom shared this with me.

There is a thankfulness that blossomed from us, mother and daughter, when we witness our God using so many unusual women. Here in 2008 we are very glad for women whose lives contributed to the lineage of Jesus. I'm glad Matthew included them. I'm glad God used them. It makes me believe he will use me and my mom, too.

To read more see the article my mom was reading "Women, Gentiles and the Messianic Mission in Matthew’s Genealogy" by John Hutchison


Amy said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for it. It brings reminder and encouragement just how important women are to God!

P.S. Happy 29th Birthday! One more year until the big 3-0! (I'm turning 31 in a month)

~Amy :)

Dee Martin said...

thank you for this. I am saving it to read over and over :)

David and Bethany said...

Happy belated birthday, Jonalyn! Dave & I were in Steamboat for a very short Labor Day weekend, and it was SO beautiful. We must do coffee the next time we are up! :)

Chris said...

This is a related point -- in a study of Genesis last year, I noticed God's valuing of the spousal relationship and the wife with Abraham and Sarah. Isn't it interesting that in both instances where Sarah is nearly lost to Pharoah or another ruler (forgot who), God doesn't just tell Abe to find a new woman! It seems that God held that relationship as sacred -- they were called together and the promise (Gen.12) was for them both, it seems. Similarly, we see again with Hagar that God wanted the promise (18:10) to come through Sarah and no one else. Interesting, given the view of wives/women predominant in the ANE. As an extra note, we see a beautiful picture of Abraham's love for Sarah in Ch.22 at her death. Who knows how long they were together? Maybe 100 years! At least 82 yrs. by my figures.
Just some thoughts that you reminded me of.

Jennifer said...


I LOVED this article! These women are such an encouragement to us in that God gives people a second chance. I wrote an article on my blog about Bathsheba (linked below) and what a blessing she has been to me.

Have a good day,
Jennifer Barker

catherine Illian said...

Thanks for writing about that-- I first heard about this from Ray Bakke -- he has a great sermon about it and has also written about it..

Ernesto said...

Happy Birthday, you young'em. In just four short years you will be as old than Jesus was when he died for us. Another thing I noticed about Mary and her pregnancy was only Luke tells the story from her prespective. Mark and John don't include the pregnancy or the nativity, and Matthew tells it from Joseph's veiw. What comes across is how confident she was despite what was going on around her. The magnifcat was sung before Joseph found out, and her praise of God was not based on what others did but how she intergrated her life and faith together. I see this same faith in my expectant wife.

Jonalyn Grace Fincher said...

Chris-- a nice observation of Abraham and Sarah's marriage, it WAS long and had gone through some "rocky" stuff. I love Abraham's mourning of her, too.

Ernesto--I love what you wrote about your wife and the parallel to Mary. Beautifully said!