Dec 21, 2020 • Written by Judy Episcopo
A Grace-Filled Lineage
What would Jesus think of the #metoo movement?
I believe the gospel writer of Matthew gives us some strong hints when he records Jesus’s genealogy. Matthew writes about the Christmas story by beginning with a list of names- 40 men and 5 women in order to prove the royal bloodline of Jesus.
The fact that he mentions 5 women in this lineage of 40 men should cause the reader to stand up and take notice. Another Gospel writer, Luke, did not mention any women in his version! Why are they included in Matthew’s account? Many have pointed out that these five women have all been tainted by sexual scandal or abuse.
Briefly, Tamar’s story involved seducing her father-in-law (Genesis 38). Rahab was a Gentile that owned an establishment of ill repute (Joshua 2). Ruth wasn’t personally involved in a sexual scandal, but she was a Moabite, a nation that was birthed through incest (Genesis 19:30-38- also read the story of Ruth). The fourth woman mentioned is Bathsheba. David the King scandalously had an affair with her and then had her husband murdered (2 Samuel 11 and 12).
Last on the list is Mary, the mother of Jesus. She became pregnant with Jesus before she was married. (Can you imagine Mary going to her parents to explain this saying, “The Holy Spirit is the Father!”) This would have been considered a highly illegitimate pregnancy. No doubt it cast a shadow over Mary (and Jesus) all their earthly lives.
So we return to the question- why are these women so important in the lineage of Jesus? I love Jon Bloom’s reflections as he writes in a blog post for Desiring God*:
“All these women shared a disgraceful past. They either committed or suffered disgrace. Whether they deserved it or not, they each had a tainted reputation. They endured the contempt of others and felt the pain of very real shame that most likely lasted their lifetime.“
These women would definitely be part of the #metoo movement and here they are in Jesus’s family! Bloom continues,
“But God no longer sees them disgraceful, but grace-full. God changed their identities. Instead of women of ill repute, he made them ancestors of the Messiah. They are archetypes of what God does for all his children, God is saying loudly through each woman:
‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation The old has passed away, behold the new has come (2 Cor 5:17).’”
Whatever abuse or injustice you have suffered, the Good News of the Gospel is that this is not who you ultimately are! In Jesus you have a new family identity as a beloved daughter of our Heavenly Father (See Ephesians 1:5 and Colossians 3:12). In Jesus you are washed clean and made holy. No one has the authority to say otherwise (Acts 10:15).
God deliberately chose these women in Jesus’s family to remind us of His lavish grace. He loves to pour out his grace for the underserved, unlikely, and despised. Bloom goes on to point out how it’s not just for those caught up in the #metoo movement. His grace is so much bigger than we could ever know! God loves to redeem sinners, he loves to produce something beautiful out of something horrible, he loves to make foreigners his children, and he loves to reconcile his enemies!
This is the message of Christmas- the message of Jesus’s family tree. Be encouraged! Especially as you gather with your family and consider how the redemptive story of Christmas can change your life.