The Gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy for Jesus. One of the unique features of the genealogy is that it lists four women.
Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheeba.
This is rare in ancient genealogies (though not unheard of).
But it’s interesting that Matthew chooses the four whom he chooses. While these women are fairly prominent, they’re not THE MOST prominent women in the Bible. No mention of Sarah, the wife of Abraham through whom the promise of a son was fulfilled. No mention of Rebekah, the wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob. No mention of Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob.
So let’s talk about these women in the genealogy. The four mothers of Jesus.
For starters, it’s a pretty diverse group.
You have Ruth, who might be the most morally spotless and unimpeachable woman in the Old Testament. Her first husband died and then she married a distant relative of his and had a son.
But then you have Tamar who tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her and conceived a child by him after her husband died. She disguised herself as a prostitute and sold herself to Judah. A link in the line of Jesus conceived through deception and trickery.
Rahab had been a prostitute.
Bathsheeba had an affair with King David and David later had her husband, Uriah, sent to the front lines and killed in battle so that he could marry her. The first child they conceived died, but Solomon was another son. But the relationship was forged in adultery and murder.
And these are the people in the line that leads to Jesus.
Something else that’s noteworthy.
One of the commonalities between the four women is that none of them are Israelites.
Tamar and Rahab are Canaanites. Ruth is a Moabite. Bathsheeba is a Hittite.
And so part of what these four women are doing from the opening of this gospel is showing us that Jesus is for the whole world. This line that leads to Jesus is a picture of the world.
But God works through all of these women to bring Jesus into the world.
That’s something that’s important for us to remember about the gospel in our own lives and in our interactions with others. That the gospel is for everyone. That no one is too far gone to be redeemed by the love of God.
We can look to a person’s past and act like that defines them. We can look to a person’s past and act like that’s who they are. We can look at a person’s sins and act like they will never overcome them.
But as Christians, we cannot think that way. We cannot be so cynical. Because we have the good news of the gospel.
And that message does change lives. And it does redeem.
And we must remember that in our own lives when we’re struggling. That we have a good God who is at work. We must remember that in our interactions with others. That someone who doesn’t know Jesus, someone who doesn’t even want to know Jesus is never so far gone. And we might sometimes be in a person’s life to share the good news with them. To love them. To encourage them. To help them.
For more information, visit the Genealogy of Jesus.
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