Someone said, “Don’t shake the family tree too hard because some fruits and nuts may fall out!” I’ve found that to be true in my own family history research, and it holds true in the genealogy of Jesus too.
I wonder how many people, as they begin reading the New Testament, just skip over the first seventeen verses of Matthew. Whew! All those begats! All those difficult names! Why do we care about them anyway?
Among many other reasons, we ought to learn about those people because they show that our God uses less- than-perfect people to accomplish His perfect will.
Human wisdom would have Messiah’s family tree filled with pure, spotless ancestors. Some people think we shouldn’t even mention the character flaws exhibited by some in Jesus’ pedigree. However, doing so isn’t disrespectful; it’s honest! Scripture portrays even it’s heroes “warts and all.”
“Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar” (Matthew 1:3). Tamar had been the wife of Judah’s two sons, both of whom died. Judah didn’t keep his promise to give her to his younger son when he came of age, so Tamar dressed like a harlot and duped Judah into getting her pregnant. Despite their obvious moral failures God used these people to bring Messiah into the world.
“Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab” (Matthew 1:5). Rahab’s background as a Gentile and a harlot in no way prevented God from accomplishing His will despite her flaws.
“David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah” (Matthew 1:6). We all know the sad and sordid account of David and Bathsheba. But despite their glaring defects they are listed in Jesus’ genealogy.
This doesn’t excuse anyone’s sin or make it ok! Quite to the contrary, it demonstrates the universal need for a Savior. Jesus came to save sinners. That includes His own blood kin. And it includes you.
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com