And now we come to the final woman in Matthew’s genealogy, Mary, the mother of Jesus. Even Mary is not without a little controversy. Centuries old debates have raged about the role of Mary in our faith journeys. Catholics revere her and even worship her. Prayers in her name and even to her. Protestants talk about her every Christmas when we reenact the Christmas story and even give her a nod as one of the women who watched Jesus die. Her story begins as simply as it could. She was a young girl asked to carry a heavy load. God chooses her! Now that is always a heavy load. He chooses her to birth the savior. And in that choosing, he choses her to suffer the heartache of a mother watching her son crucified. I have always thought it a bit cruel when a parent has to bury their child, whether from war, or an accident, or illness. It is unnatural. But this must have been horrendous. Not an illness, or an accident, not a result of something your son had done or a mistake in judgment, this was just cruelty and injustice rearing an ugly head.
Ahhh, then the light. How did she feel that first Easter? Her grief? Became? Joy? Mary, blessed are you among women. For through you, joy to the world!
Though Bathsheba is not listed by name in Matthew’s genealogy, she is noted as “the one who had been Uriah’s wife.” We hear the scripture praise David many times over for his Godly heart, yet this story in 2 Samuel 11 casts a cloud of dispersion on David’s heart. He commits adultery; actually, others try to talk him out of being with her but he insists. Bathsheba gets pregnant; David has her husband Uriah killed in battle and marries Bathsheba to cover his crimes. The child dies and David mourns. Later, Bathsheba gives birth to Solomon. God does surprise me. How in the world could David be seen as a hero of faith? He made some huge mistakes, sinned boldly, arrogantly sought his own way at the cost of others. None of that sounds much like a Godly heart.
Yet he repented as vigorously as he sinned, even more so. When he sinned publically, he repented publically. In my life, when I have seen these sorts of things happen in the church, I have wondered if public confession is even enough. My heart always breaks for Bathsheba. Later in the story she has to fight for Solomon to be blessed. Nothing is easy for her. I sometimes think her name should have made the list.
Then I remember, she is at least a footnote, and perhaps a footnote should be enough. I think most of us would be more than happy to be a footnote in someone else’s life. Being the headliner is not God’s call on all of us. And as I read, headlining always comes at a great price. So I think I am satisfied simply doing as I can where I am.
Ruth has a whole book devoted to her. She is not even a Jew. Strange that now we have a second woman in Matthew’s genealogy not a Jew. All of the men listed are Jewish. Rahab, Ruth, and Tamar are not Jewish. Such an oddity. I will say my Bible does not automatically open to Ruth. Yet there is something compelling about her. The story itself nicknames her “Ruth the Moabitess.” Certainly this was a derogatory nickname. Yet there was something compelling in her that gets her name in Matthew’s genealogy. Derogatory nicknames can either make you or break you. It appears Ruth is a woman that will not be broken. She becomes a servant, a slave, working in the fields to survive. God does not leave such people alone. They are never abandoned. God chooses her, and that is the amazing part of the story. She is chosen to be in the line of David. God has established that we are not ever forsaken. If you ever feel like you are all alone and the whole world is out to get you, just remember. God does not forsake the broken. He calls them and redeems them.
Genesis is filled with betrayal, murder, deceit and faithfulness. It is one wild ride. Tamar must have felt like she was riding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. She was selected to marry a man who ended up being wicked (Genesis38). He died. Her ride begins with someone else linking her with a wicked man. That alone would have created stories for a lifetime. Then the wicked guy’s brother gets sent to her to make her pregnant but he would have none of that, so he died. So she goes home to live with her dad and then tricks her father in law, Judah, into making her pregnant. She really wanted a kid. Judah does not know Tamar is pregnant with his child and when he discovers she is pregnant calls for her to be put to death. He is a hypocrite. Then Tamar reveals the truth that the child is his and she gives birth to twin boys. Now that is one crazy soap opera. I wonder how often our own lives seem so crazy that we could make our own soap operas. And yet, God sees a way to have Tamar in the genealogy of Matthew 1 that takes us to the birth of our savior. Only God can take a life like that and use it for glory. He can do the same with our lives.