While the inclusion of Jesus’ genealogy may seem tedious to us today, it establishes Jesus’ place within the Jewish tradition and his continuity with great Old Testament figures.
It also highlights the Father’s deliberate preparation for the sending of the Son. God carefully unfolded his plan by using his people across the generations—some admirable and some not.
Bible scholars have long commented on the “irregularities” found in Matthew’s genealogy, especially its inclusion of women, an unusual occurrence in Jewish genealogies of that time. St. Jerome said that Matthew chose sinful women for his list, such as Rahab, but this doesn’t accurately explain Ruth’s inclusion. Others have said that Matthew chose foreign women, which is true of Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. Still others have commented that their “irregularity” is the very thing the women in Matthew have in common. Yet each also played an extraordinary part in the history of Israel. They thus prepared the way for the unique and extraordinary role of Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus.
God worked in all of these unique individuals to prepare for the coming of his Son. We can find encouragement in this fact. Whether we are high and mighty or lowly and limited, God invites us and uses us to bring Jesus to others, just as Mary brought him to us. However “irregular” we may consider ourselves, the Father lets nothing stand in the way of his love, not even ourselves. What joyful hope this instills in us, that God uses us in an extraordinary way to bring his Son to others! In this sense, we participate in the ongoing genealogy of Christ.
1. Which names do you recognize from Matthew’s list? Whose story are you most familiar with, and how does that story add to your understanding of Jesus?
2. If you could create your own Christian genealogy, who would you include in your list? What individuals or groups have most significantly influenced your own walk with Christ?
3. Do you know anyone who feels alienated from the church because of events in his or her past? What could you do to show them that God loves them and welcomes them back?