This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
Like many great figures of the Bible, Jesus’ story begins with a genealogy. A genealogy was a family tree that acted as a way of introducing a significant life. A way of saying, “take note- this is someone!”.
“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,’
The author, Matthew, steeps Jesus’ story in the story of the Jewish people, except there is a difference. Jesus’ genealogy was not what people expected. Where ancient genealogies listed a person’s descendants, people dependant on them for their status and story, Matthew instead lists Jesus’ ancestors, as though to say – ‘Even past peoples depend on Him for their story and their status’. Effectively Matthew is saying “Take note this is someone…. different”
Like the thinnest part of an hour glass Jesus’ life altered all that had gone before Him and all that comes rushing after. Jesus’ life, teaching and death changed everything. Forever.
This is someone different.
And if this genealogy wasn’t so strange already (back-to-front as it was) the author then, instead of listing historical greats alone with impressive credentials, is at pains to include the ‘not-so-greats’- the misfits, the foreigners, the women of ill-repute, the widows, the outsiders and the outcasts. The fact that the author of Matthew lists women at all in this genealogy was veering way off script. Who did that? No one! No one who was writing about someone.
Of the five women mentioned, four would have been seen as ‘questionable’.
We are so used to air brushing our stories to make us look good, in conversations, in facebook posts or instagram images. We tend to edit our lives to make us feel acceptable. Accepted.
The author of Matthew, he airbrushed this story too, this genealogy, but not in the way we do. He air-brushed it with grace. Not grace that hides all the foibles and failings. But grace that allows them to be there, because they were. Instead of airbrushing the story to make Jesus’ ancestors look perfect, mighty and impressive (as we probably would have done). Mathew airbrushes the story to highlight all the skeletons in the closets and the broken pieces of a people.
“Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar” Matthew 1:3
Tamar, who had to dress up as a prostitue to sleep with her father-in law Judah in order to force Him (the father of the line of Kings) to act honourably towards her.
“Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,” Matthew 1:5
Rahab who was a foreigner and a Prostitue in Jericho.
“Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth” Matthew 1:5
Ruth was a Moabitess, a foreigner and a widow.
“and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,” Matthew 1:6
Bathsheba, is mentioned here not by name, but by the fact she was another man’s wife, not David’s.
Jesus came into the incredibly messy human story of Israel, a story full of brokenness, frailty and failing. He didn’t just take on skin, light enfolding in tissued flesh, He took on a history and a story full of the foibles and flaws of a fallen, falling people. People who sometimes flew (with incredible courage, perseverance and faith) and often fell. Hard. There was not enough air to airbrush their story clean. Like all human stories. We are all beautiful. And we are all broken.
So as you read the long list of names in Matthew’s genealogy, see past the letters on the page to the message he’s planted there in plain sight for all to see. One clear simple point:
Human beings are messy and broken.
But God is with us anyway…
“…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.”
You don’t have to have it all together to come to Jesus. The difference between falling and flying is Him.