In the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew we encounter a genealogy list. It’s the lineage of Jesus, going back 42 generations. It is listed in three groups of fourteen (Jesus to the Exile, the Exile to King David, and David to Abraham). Ho hum, you might think, as you stumble across all these names; especially if genealogy is not your thing. But let me invite you to linger with this list for a moment. Much as those who dive into Ancestry.com often discover hidden truths, or those who have swabbed their cheek and sent in a “23 and Me” DNA sample learn unknown aspects of their heritage; sitting with Matthew’s version of Jesus’ family tree has its own lessons to reveal.
In addition to such high caliber hall of fame type ancestral names (think Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Hezekiah), there appear the names of five women in Jesus’ genealogy. Not only would it have been uncommon for women to be listed in a patriarchal society, but why the inclusion of these particular women in a male driven system of reporting? What is it that Matthew wants us to know and reflect on as we read names like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (listed simply as Uriah’s wife), and Mary?Continue reading