As part of the “Rediscovering Christmas” Bible reading plan, I read Matthew 1 yesterday. It includes the genealogy of Jesus, which most of us at best usually skim through (you know who you are). Included in the list of people leading up to Jesus are a few “household” names such as Abraham, Isaac, David, and Ruth but also several you’re probably not as familiar with.
I also think there are some other cool messages within this list of names. While each of these names don’t necessarily carry a whole lot of meaning to us, during the time of Jesus each one of these people and their life story would have been well known. Their stories had been told over and over throughout the years.
For instance, the name Tamar found in the Matthew 1 genealogy doesn’t mean a lot to us. But to first century Jews, this was huge when they came across this name being associated with Jesus.
She was a Gentile (a huge strike against her), but she also seduced her father-in-law by dressing up like a prostitute, then bore illegitimate twins with him. Now,, I grew up in church and they used to tell Old Testament stories on flannel graphs in the Sunday school. They never told that story.
Then of course, he mentions Rahab. She wasn’t a Jew either, but a Canaanite. And while at least Tamar was just pretending to be a prostitute, Rahab actually was one.
Now all this is so important because you and I often want to define our lives and God’s ability to use our lives based on our past. It often sounds like this…
I don’t think God can really use me because I __________________.
We rarely say this out loud, but it’s in the back of our minds.
This genealogy is just another reminder that my sin does not make me an embarrassment to God.
The other day, I was listening to one of the songs on Taylor Swift’s new album (don’t you judge me…it’s my kid’s CD) entitled “Innocent.” She has a great line in the song that says, “Who you are is not what you did.” There’s a lot of truth there.
You are not what you did last week, month, or year. That is not what is truest about you.
Second Corinthians 5:17 reminds us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Don’t let your past dictate how He uses you in the future. The reality is God’s been using Davids, Tamars, and Rahabs for all of history. Using imperfect people is what He does.
And for that, I’m so very thankful!