But wait! There’s more!
A glance through the genealogy in chapter one will reveal an oddity for Jewish genealogies of the time period: there are women on the list. A closer look at the women included will reveal that they each had pretty big buts of their own. I mean that, of course, in the kindest way.
For Tamar the path into the line of Christ begins in Genesis 38 where we read: But Er, Judah’s firstborn was wicked in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord put him to death. Er was Tamar’s husband. And it was the death of her husband that marked the beginning of a winding road that eventually landed her right here, in the line of Christ.
Joshua chapter 6 records the decision of a desperate young woman—a decision that had a life altering effect: But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute with her family and all who belonged to her, because she had hidden the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho. Did you catch the word prostitute? Jesus had a prostitute in his family tree. That ancestor of mine, who was jailed for several days in the 1600s because she was found guilty of wearing silk in public—pretty bland by comparison.
Ruth’s road into the genealogy began with her devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi. In Ruth chapter 1 we read: Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. This decision placed Ruth in just the right place, at just the right time, to continue the line of Christ.
Then there’s Bathsheba, the object of King David’s adulterous affection, recorded in 2 Samuel 11. Her journey into the line of Christ began with David’s decision not to go on a journey: In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war David sent Joab out with the king’s men… but David remained in Jerusalem.
The other woman on the list is Mary and we’ve already seen her big but.
But in the beginning …
These words begin the New Testament. The importance of this introduction of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1 can hardly be overstated. Matthew says quite matter-of-fact: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. And so we are forced to reckon with this account. Do we believe it? We are introduced to one who appears qualified to be the long anticipated Deliverer of the Jewish people by virtue of his being both a descendant of Abraham and a son of David. We are granted insights and given information that seems to align with the rest of the Bible’s story. We are introduced to the name above all names—Jesus—not just as a fuzzy notion, but the only name in which the Bible declares there is Deliverance. We are introduced to the bearer of that name—Immanuel—God with us. Finally, we see that God’s work in all of this stands as fulfillment of promises made long ago. This is indeed good news, worthy of producing great joy, just as Luke records a host of angels proclaimed on that night: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests. Sounds like Christmas.