It didn’t begin in a Bethlehem manger. It didn’t start with a meandering star. It began with a wandering genealogy. And Christmas isn’t just a birthing story. It’s a revealing.
If we were to ask Matthew to tell us the Christmas story he’d begin with a landscape of history. Genealogical landmarks lend us more than dates and times. They are presents wrapped in narrative ribbon. They are ancestral résumés unearthing family, pedigree, and clan—people you are connected to, declaring in unguarded descriptions, “This is who I am!”
But shockingly this Christmas genealogy is unlike any ancient genealogy. It’s unabridged and unadorned, unearthing outlandish legacies of the most sordid type. To begin with, there are five women listed in the line of Christ. Women were gender outsiders in those cultures and yet, there they are. Moreover, these women in Jesus’ résumé are Gentiles (Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth), Canaanites and Moabites. All of them “unclean” in the eyes of any ancient Jew. But it’s worse still. By naming these women in the life line of Christ, Matthew dredges up the most depraved, uncomfortable and immoral incidents in all of Scripture. Here you have prostitutes, adulterers, adulteresses, incestuous relationships, and murderers…all publicly acknowledged as the ancestors of Jesus.
The world is a manger.
Christmas itself is by grace.
Jesus is not ashamed of his pedigree. God is not ashamed of us. The world values lineage, wealth, education, and agendas. Jesus turns that all upside down. Christmas means God is working out his purposes. He will fulfill his promise.
Pastor Brett Hartman