If you have ever done a DNA check or researched your family tree, I am sure you found some rather seedy and rotten individuals along with ancestors to be truly proud of that might make you stand a bit taller. It’s a great reality check of who we are and where we come from and one of wishful thinking of what ifs along with thanking God that we are not like our forebears.
Have you taken a look at Jesus' family tree? The gospel of Matthew charts the lineage of Joseph, and Luke shows the genealogy of Mary. Remember that Joseph is mentioned instead of Mary in Luke because in Jewish law Joseph became the son of Heli upon his marriage to Mary. But that is for another blog post.
Go back to Matthew 1:2-16 and see how God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, chooses to use broken, sinful, imperfect people for His perfect plan; for the greatest story ever told.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. Matthew 1:2-16 ESV
Did you happen to catch how God used flawed humans to bring about his divine plan? Several places Matthew deviated from the ‘Name of person’ and the father of ‘name another person’ by inserting some key figures and moments from history and the Old Testament.
Let’s start with the patriarchs. "Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar''. Judah having kids with his daughter-in-law!? Judah violated both his vow to give Tamar his youngest son in marriage and visiting a temple prostitute who happened to be Tamar. Tamar pretended so as to have an heir. Go read Genesis 38:1-30. Not a branch we would like to see.
Next up we have "Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab". Rahab was also a prostitute who hid the Israelite spies sent by Joshua to scout out Jericho. They got caught in the city after the King of Jericho was told of their spying activities. Rahab lied and protected them, so God spared that part of the Jericho walls and saved Rahab's family. She married Salmon. Go read Joshua 2:1-24. Rahab shows redemption through faith and being given a second chance, and as a part of Jesus’ family tree.
God used sinful people for His glory and perfect plan.
"Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth" shows us that God doesn't care about your ethnicity; he cares about your heart. Ruth was a Moabite who became part of the Jewish family both in the family tree on earth and in heaven as a follower of God. Go read all of Ruth.
Now we come to the really unsavory part of the tree, the branch you may want to prune off and discard, and that really surprised me. It shows so much of God’s love for us and it happens to deal with David and his son Solomon. "And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah". No mention of the mom by name as we saw in the other three branches but we know its Bathsheba. David had an affair with Bathsheba while she was married to Uriah and got her pregnant. David tried to cover this up but failed as Uriah was a godly man. David ended up having Uriah killed for being the husband of Bathsheba.
It seems there was no hesitation on Matthew's part as inspired by the Holy Spirit to write those words, to write into the good news of Jesus the painful story of David's sin. Everyone who read those words then knew the story behind the words. God used a terrible, sad episode as part of His story.
Jesus' lineage is prophesied to come from David and yet we are reminded of one of the worst parts of David’s life being used for our salvation. The greatest story ever told!
To me, that is mind blowing that God would write His story with so much baggage. That is God's story for us to know how much He cares about us and why He sent Jesus.
The next time you think that God can never forgive your sin, think of what God did for us all in this son Jesus. Born of a virgin, died on a cross, and has a family tree as messed up and twisted as our own.