As we begin our study of Matthew, the first thing to notice is that genealogy doesn’t follow the normal pattern, in several ways. There are three groups of 14 ancestors, which necessitates skipping some generations (although that is not uncommon in genealogies). The list starts with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the patriarchs of the faith, then proceeds through some familiar and some unfamiliar names. So far, so good.
But then Matthew lists four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, “the wife of Uriah.” These four listed seldom make genealogies. They are “black spots” (a daughter-in-law who tricks Jacob by playing a prostitute, a prostitute, a foreigner, and wife of a soldier who attracted David’s attention). Especially black spots on the genealogy for the greatest of all, Jesus. Wouldn’t it make better sense to include the four “great women,” namely Sarah (with Abraham), Rebekah (with Isaac), Leah and Rachel (with Jacob)?
Or are they “black spots”? Maybe they are more in line with the rest in the genealogy. With Sarai’s problems accepting God’s plan (Gen. 16), Rebekah’s duplicity (Gen. 27), etc. David was not exactly a man of virtue regarding Bathsheba. So, perhaps these four women listed are in the right spot after all. They have not spoiled the genealogy, any more than the men listed.
So rather than seeing them as black spots to be avoided, they are included as the signs of God’s gracious work even in the midst of less than perfect lives. God uses each of the four women at critical times showing that God’s grace is dominant. Thank God that He is gracious enough to not only mention the unmentionables, but restores them and uses them for His mighty purposes.
Matthew’s genealogy is the last one of the old covenant. Once Christ comes, he not only fulfills that genealogy, he initiates a new genealogy based on faith. Those who believe in Christ, are now the heirs of Him.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:26–29 NAS95)
Since by faith we are in the new genealogy of Jesus Christ: we are “in Christ.” And we are in the same category as the mentioned unmentionables, certainly no better than they. Therefore, we see God’s grace in these four women as illustrative of God’s grace in us.
How many unmentionables do we know, who need to hear of the grace of God in Christ Jesus?
Prayer focus for today:
Pastor Will Weedon, a seminary classmate of mine, has been blogging for quite some time. He includes new Lutheran quotes, old Lutheran quotes, and early church father quotes for our learning and enjoyment. http://weedon.blogspot.com/
Lord God, we give thanks that you are a God of grace and mercy. Look with favor upon Will and his ministry at St. Paul’s. Bless his blogging and writing on the internet; give him wisdom and compassion to write effectively the truth of your Word. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen