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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mary- the mother of Jesus. Who experienced misunderstanding for her entire life, but who was the first human participant in the incarnation.
- 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