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Prostitutes, Mistresses and the Messiah: Seven Great Women of Ill Repute

A Gracious Sorority

Why Mary Magdalene? Why the woman at the well? Why unwed Mary of Nazareth? Why Bathsheba, Ruth, Rahab and Tamar? Why did God choose to make these women of ill repute so prominent in redemptive history?

In order to place the emphasis of history on redemption.

All of these women share this in common: a disgraceful past. They either committed or suffered disgrace. Whether they deserved them or not, they each had a tainted reputation. They endured the contempt of others and felt the pain of very real shame. At least four of the six would have carried extremely painful, sordid memories.

But God no longer sees them as disgraceful, but grace-full. God changed their identities. Instead of women of ill repute, he made them ancestors or disciples of the Messiah. They are archetypes of what he does for all of his children. God is saying loudly through each woman:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17–18)

The Old Has Passed Away

In Christ the old has passed away! Jesus takes away the old reputation. In Jesus, your past sin or the abuse and injustice you’ve suffered, and the ways you’ve viewed yourself and others have viewed you because of it, is not who you are. In Jesus, your heavenly Father says,

You are my child (Ephesians 1:5). I have washed you and made you holy (1 Corinthians 6:11). You are clean, and no one has authority to say otherwise (Acts 10:15). And you are my beloved (Romans 9:25). I have removed all your scarlet letters (Psalm 51:7).

God has thousands of reasons for everything he does. One great reason he founded this gracious sorority was to remind us of his lavish, unmerited grace to the undeserved and unlikely and despised. It’s another way to tell us that he loves to redeem sinners, he loves to produce something beautiful out of something horrible, he loves to make foreigners his children, and he loves to reconcile his enemies. He loves to make all things work together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), even for prostitutes, mistresses and men like me.

This article originally appeared here.

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Jon Bloom is the Executive Director for Desiring God Ministries