Matthew's Gospel begins with a genealogy. The emphasis is on two of his ancestors in particular - Father Abraham and King David (Matthew 1:1). Through this list of names, Matthew is proving that Jesus is the direct recipient of all the promises and covenants made to Abraham and David.
But there are some less reputable parts of Jesus’ genealogy as well.
Matthew includes four mothers in a long list of fathers and sons. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Tamar masqueraded as a prostitute and slept with her father-in-law (Genesis 38:16). Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2:1). Ruth is a widow and a foreigner (Ruth 1:4). And Bathsheba was involved in a scandal involving adultery, murder, and King David himself (2 Samuel 11:2).
Just as important, these four women are not, strictly speaking, Jewish. Rahab, Ruth, and Tamar were Gentiles, and Bathsheba was married to Uriah and thus part of a Gentile household. So why does that matter? Because of a promise made long ago.
Why is this good news?
God promised Abraham that his people would be used to bless every nation on earth, not just the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3). And Jesus, the son of Abraham, is the one who brings bring this worldwide blessing.
Jesus is also the son of David. David was Israel's greatest king. God promised that one of David’s descendants would come and reign on his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:16). He would bring justice and peace to the earth like never before (Isaiah 9:7). Jesus, the son of David, is the promised ruler who has come.
The third title given to Jesus in this genealogy is the Jewish title Messiah, or Christ. The Messiah was an anointed leader who would liberate the Jews (Isaiah 61:4). But he wouldn’t liberate Israel by Jesus overthrowing the Romans, as so many wanted. Instead, he will die on a Roman cross and pay for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2).
Jesus, the Christ, is the anointed leader who liberates the whole world from sin.
Combined, these three titles reveal Jesus as an anointed king who will bless all nations. What may look, to us, like a strange genealogy is one of the most significant theological moments in the Bible. For, in it, we see that Jesus is going to complete everything God has been doing up to this point.
See For Yourself
May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who keeps his promises and works through history for His purposes. And that you would see Jesus as the King who sets us free.