Like many of you, I’ve been on the #365 Bible Reading Plan. And as usual, when I came to Matthew 1, I was stumped by a whole list of genealogies. To be honest, this is where I’d usually flip the pages and skip the boring parts altogether (I’m sure I’m not the only one!).
As modern readers, our eyes would glaze over, and we’d ask, “When are we going to get to some action?” We don’t understand the significance of genealogies today, but people back then did. It was common practice to publicise one’s genealogy because they were proud of their ancestry and where they came from.
And it was your genealogy, not résumé, that determined if you had a place in the world. Today, we live in a highly individualistic society in which all that matters is what you accomplish. Which is why Matthew 1 is fascinating. The genealogy of Jesus is put out for the world to see, and at first glance, it doesn’t look good.
In the ‘begat’ chapter, you see not only gender outsiders (women), but racial (Moabitess and Canaanite), and moral outsiders (immoral people). Verse 6 says, “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife …”
She had a name! Bathsheba was the mother of King Solomon, but Matthew deliberately called her ‘Uriah’s wife’. How rude – almost like an insult to Bathsheba. But this wasn’t meant as an insult to her, but an implication at David.
David was the one guy anyone would want in their family tree. He was the ultimate insider. He wasn’t an idol worshipper, but was religiously orthodox. In fact, he was the greatest king in the history of Israel!
Look at what Matthew did. By using the term ‘Uriah’s wife’, he was forcing you to remember the whole story. Bathsheba was Uriah’s wife, David fell in love with her, and he had one of his closest friends murdered. In one stroke, Matthew highlighted the entire narrative and how this ‘great’ king fitted in.
In short, David had no more of a right to be part of Jesus’ family than a prostitute. There’s Rahab, Ruth – and there’s David. Matthew was bluntly saying, “Regardless of your title, you don’t deserve God’s blessing and grace any more than the sinner beside you!”
The prostitute and the king were right next to each other in the great line. All are equal before the holiness and grace of God. We’re not saved because of how good we are, but because of the work of grace. No matter what your pedigree is, or how bad you’ve failed, God’s grace is available to you – if you would receive it.
No matter who you are or what you’ve done, Jesus wants you in His family. “He’s unashamed to call (us) brethren (family) …” Hebrews 2.
The ‘begats’ can be a rich place to marvel at the beauty and wonder of grace. So don’t skip the ‘begats’ when you do your #365 reading. The ‘begats’ should change the way you look at yourself, and the way you see others. If you feel a sense of low self-worth, just look at the begats and be encouraged.
I believe God the Father intentionally slotted this chapter in the Bible to allow us a glimpse of His redeeming love for the broken.
Asst. Pastor Elijah Chan