So You Have a Past

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message:

The New Testament begins with the book of Matthew and showcases more drama than a Hallmark movie. The book starts off with a genealogy trail that leads from Abraham to the birth of Jesus. This list of names might make you yawn, but it’s actually really important – and even exciting. (Yes. You read that right!) It’s fascinating because it gives evidence to a family line that shows Jesus was a descendent of both Abraham and King David, thus fulfilling what the Old Testament predicted about the lineage of the Messiah.

Scandal steps onto the page in verse three of Matthew chapter one when a woman’s name shows up. (Traditionally, only the names of men appeared in these family lineages.) But this wasn’t just any woman, it’s one from the shady side of the family tree … Tamar. She had a past, and any Jewish scholar worth their salt would know about it. She was used and abused by men that should’ve loved, protected, and provided for her. Once scorned, she schemed for revenge and ended up having twins to her father-in-law. One of the twins, Perez, is an ancestor to King David.

As the list goes on we see a few more eyebrow-raising names…

Rahab’s name is listed. Remember her? She was the prostitute who “turned good” when she helped Joshua and the Israelites capture Jericho. Bathsheba’s on the list too, but they don’t even mention her by name. She’s recorded this way, “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.” (Matthew 1:6) Nice. Archived as the woman who had an affair with King David while she was married to a soldier named Uriah.

All three of these women were known, but not necessarily for cleaned up good things. Seeing these women listed among the relatives of Jesus seems very… messy. It seems to me that historians would want to hide those names, not put them out there for everyone to see! But that’s not God’s way.

He doesn’t sweep things under the rug and pretend they aren’t there.

And strangely enough, I’m encouraged by the presence of these women in the lineage of Jesus.

Why?

Because they are powerful displays of His grace.

They are proof that God does not require perfection from us in order for His will to be done through us. The apostle Paul summed it up nicely in his second letter to the church of Corinth. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

So you have a past. So did Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba. I do too. Who doesn’t?

So you have a few people in your family with rusty reputations. So do I. So did Jesus.

So you have some shame or pain regarding things that were done to you… things that were or are beyond your control. You’re not alone.

God’s mercy reaches beyond the muck and mire of our pasts to recreate us in the grace and love of Jesus. He lifts fallen heads, purifies rebellious hearts, and places slippery feet on solid ground. Nothing about having a “past” or “complicated associations” can keep you from walking out the freedom and hope of Jesus.

God uses the broken to showcase His beauty.

Believe it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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