In Matthew chapter one we have the record of Jesus’ family tree. It records the names of His ancestors. Some were noble, some were ignoble, some were righteous, some were downright evil, some left legacies of faith, and others left legacies of dysfunction; a mixed bag, to say the least. Matthew makes a specific point of mentioning four women in Jesus’ genealogy, four scandalous women; Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. What you have in this genealogy are two prostitutes, Tamar and Rahab, someone who is not even Jewish in a Jewish genealogy, Ruth, and an adulteress, Bathsheba. Jesus’ family tree is filled with people who made huge mistakes. In fact, we would call them scandals of historic proportions. Why would Matthew put these four women into this genealogy? It almost seems like he went out of his way to do it, since women are not usually mentioned in Jewish genealogies. What can we learn from Jesus’ genealogy?
1. God’s plans are bigger than your mistakes. Aren’t you grateful we know how the story ends! I’m guessing that these women assessed their lives as a huge tragedy. Filled with disappointment and betrayal. Their lives were not turning what they wanted them to be. But they did produce a son and that son turned out alright. And he had a son who had a son who is the Son of God. You cannot asses your life only with what you see. Sometimes, we get so embroiled in the minute, circumstantial details of our lives, we don’t believe God can do much with us. What we need is a little bit of eternal perspective. God’s plans are bigger than your mistakes, sexual or otherwise. Let’s not reduce God to the size of our biggest failure. He is bigger than that.
2. It is not who goes before you, it’s who you leave behind. Many of us can identify with this story because we come from dysfunctional families and dysfunctional situations. Some of you wonder if you are destined to make the same mistakes that your parents made. You wonder if you inherited their genes. You ask, “Am I going to mess up the same way my parents messed up?” Be encouraged. Your mom is not you, your dad is not you, you are not them, you are a unique individual and you don’t have to make the same mistakes. You can leave a magnificent legacy with Christ’s help.
3. Since these ladies were part of the Messiah’s genealogy you can be too! If you have put your faith in Christ, then Galatians 3 says you are a child of Abraham. You have been grafted in this genealogy and His church is your family. It is your messed-up family! We are all sinners yet John writes in John 1:12, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God.” You have the divine genes of God Almighty! You are of infinite value to Him.
Matthew included these people of shame to show the way of God in using that which is shameful to fulfill His purposes. Many people wonder how God could use them, and this genealogy can indicate to us that anyone can be used. Not only can we be used, but our sinful actions can be. We should not seek to sin, but when we do, it cannot overturn the purposes of God. We should be thankful to see these people in the genealogy of Christ. They help us to catch a glimpse of the grace of God.