The Scandalous Lineage of the Son of God

Kings. Scholars. Prophets. Warriors. Patriarchs.

When it comes to the family tree of Jesus Christ, these illustrious branches are the ones that most observers would expect to find. After all, He is the only begotten Son of God. That Jesus would come from an earthly line of royalty, leadership, and divine calling only makes sense. Yet while the lineage of Christ includes both political luminaries and spiritual giants, it also contains a few seemingly degenerate limbs as well.

Consider this collection of unsavory characters:

Fools. Liars. Charlatans. Fornicators. Murderers.

While most people would try to hide the more embarrassing details of their family history, Jesus displayed them openly. Scripture records that even the most revered members of Christ’s ancestry were guilty of unspeakable crimes: Jacob was a thief, Solomon an idolater, and David a killer.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about the genealogy of Christ (Matt. 1) is not the sins of the men who are listed. After all, there are 56 generations of them; one would certainly expect to find a skeleton or two. What is most interesting are the few women that are mentioned – five of them, to be exact:

Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah who tricked him into sharing her bed as an act of revenge.

Rahab, a formerly idolatrous harlot whose great act of faith was telling a lie.

Ruth, a foreigner from Moab whose entire race was a lasting reminder of the incest committed between Lot and his oldest daughter.

Bath-Sheba, an adulteress whose dutiful husband was murdered by the king to cover up their sin.

Mary, a teen-aged girl whose “unplanned” (yet divinely ordained) pregnancy certainly raised more than a few eyebrows.

There are 56 generations of men in Jesus’ family tree, yet He chose to highlight a mere handful of women – and they are possibly the most sordid of them all. It’s as if He wants us to pause as we read the list of names and think about their lives. And when we do, it is impossible to ignore the grace of God.

God’s grace is always remarkable, no matter the recipient. But when we consider the lives of women like Tamar, Rahab, and Bath-Sheba; it is impossible to ignore that His grace is freely bestowed on the undeserving, the undesirable, and the unlikely. Their stories, once marred by scandal and sin, are really not much different from my own. I was once an idolater, an adulterer, and an outcast – but God saw fit to save me and graft me into His Family Tree. I was totally undeserving of His favor, but He adopted me as His own and drew me by His love into the lineage of Christ.

So, the next time you come to that list of names, don’t skip ahead to chapter two. Read it all, and as you read, remember this: the message of the Gospel is as evident in Matthew Chapter One as it is at Calvary. For, at its heart, the message of the Gospel has always been that God lavishes His grace on the unlikeliest of sinners – even the most scandalous of us all.

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Posted on July 24, 2010, in Grace, Redemption, Salvation, The Gospel. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hi,

    I see where you’re going with this, but don’t forget that before them all came Jesus.

    JOHN 8:58

    Jesus was there at the dawn of creation. He was no more reliant on Jacob or David than he was on Tamar or Mary.

    You do Mary a great disservice, she was chosen by God and of all the folk in scripture barring Enoch, Elijah and The Lord Jesus himself surely stands as “greater” than most?

    The biggest surprise in his family tree? That he chose to adopt a sinner like me!

  2. Stephen,

    I did not indicate that Jesus was in any way reliant on these individuals. On the contrary, I was expressing the idea that each of them had a place in His family tree only by the magnificent grace of God. My point was more that Jesus displays them openly in the record of His ancestry – not because they are great, but because His grace is greater than their sins.

    As for Mary, I suppose I could have worded the section containing her story a little differently. I did not mean to indicate that she had acted in great sin (as the others), but merely that the events surrounding the Divine Birth would have been considered scandalous by anyone who did not know (or believe) what was happening “behind the scenes” of redemption. The point that I was driving at was more that she was a “nobody” (as I think you mentioned in your most recent blog post – great stuff, by the way!), and was as much a sinner as the others – even if their is no biblical record of a grand failure in her life.

    Most of all, my point in this post was the point you made so well: “The biggest surprise in His family tree… [is that] He chose to adopt a sinner like me!”

    “…It is impossible to ignore that His grace is freely bestowed on the undeserving, the undesirable, and the unlikely. Their stories, once marred by scandal and sin, are really not much different from my own. I was once an idolater, an adulterer, and an outcast – but God saw fit to save me and graft me into His Family Tree. I was totally undeserving of His favor, but He adopted me as His own and drew me by His love into the lineage of Christ.”

    And praise His name for it! God bless, Stephen!

  3. Ah, maybe we’re on the same wave-length after all!

  1. Pingback: The Whole Family is Rotten? - Christian Chat Rooms & Forums

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