As we approach Christmas and ponder all of the implications of Christ's birth one of the activities many may engage in prior to the opening of gifts is the reading of the Christmas story. There are only two chapters in the Bible where the lineage of Jesus Christ is given. One is found in Luke chapter three and the other is found in Matthew chapter one. Luke begins with Jesus and traces the family lineage all the way back to Adam. Matthew gives us the lineage of Christ back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people.
Usually when the lineage of a family is given in the bible it most often includes only the names of the men. However, what is interesting in Matthews account is that the names of four women are given in the family lineage of Jesus. As we read the account of these four women in Matthew chapter one we notice the backgrounds from which they came reveals some very interesting family history. The four women that Matthew chapter one lists in the family lineage that brought to us the Lord Jesus Christ are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.
As we notice these four women we realize that they are not from well-connected families. In fact they are all dysfunctional individuals from dysfunctional families. Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced her father in law Judah into committing immorality with her. Out of that relationship was born twins, one of which becomes a progenitor of the Jewish lineage that leads to Jesus. (Genesis 38)
Pastor Randy Mason
Liberty Baptist Church
Rahab is known as "Rahab the harlot" who was an impure woman who lived in Jericho. Rahab was a gentile who married Salmon a descendant of Tamar's son. (Joshua 2)
Ruth was a Moabite woman. The nation of Moab descended from an incestuous relationship between Lot and his oldest daughter. (Genesis 19) The oldest daughter of Lot caused her father to drink wine and when he had become drunk she involved herself in an incestuous relationship with her father. The daughter conceived a child with her father Lot and named the child Moab. Ruth the Moabite was a descendant of this incestuous relationship between Lot and his oldest daughter.
Bathsheba the last of the four women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ had committed adultery with king David and gave birth to Solomon. (II Samuel 11)
Of these four women mentioned in Matthew chapter one giving us the lineage of Jesus three are gentiles, three are involved in some form of sexual immorality, two are involved in prostitution and one is an adulteress. This begs the question, why would God choose to send His only begotten Son to be born into this dysfunctional family? Why would God not have found a royal family with impeccable moral character to be the progenitor of the Savior of the world?
I think perhaps the reason God chose to send His Son to be born into this family through these four women is to provide an example of God's immense grace and mercy. The Bible tells us that "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) God loves people no matter what their past may be. If we were to continue to study the lives of these four women it is evident that once they came to faith in God their lives were changed and God used them to bring us the Messiah.
The second reason that perhaps God chose to use these four women in the lineage of Christ was to show us that God does not identify with lofty pious prayers, or lofty pious platitudes, or the religious establishment, but Jesus came to identify with common man with all of our shortcomings, sinfulness and failures. Jesus came to identify with sinners and to save us from our sins.
As we ponder the implications of the birth of Christ this Christmas may we be reminded that Jesus came as a humble suffering Savior to a sin cursed world full of sin and dysfunction so that He could redeem sinful man out of the slave pit of sin. Jesus accomplished this on the cross when he said, "It is finished." The sin penalty had been paid and " For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13)
Christmas is far more than just a cute story about a baby born in a manger. It is about God coming down to earth in human flesh to restore the relationship between man and God that had been broken because of the sin of Adam and Eve. God displayed His amazing grace through these four sinful women and we too can experience God's amazing grace if we will just receive His offer of forgiveness. This is the true meaning of Christmas.