Wrecked & Redeemed

Out of Place Ornaments on Jesus' Family Tree

These are the stories of five women scattered, like out of place ornaments on a Christmas tree, on Jesus’ family tree, as chronicled in the Matthew 1 genealogy.

Nearly every family has a set of stories they tell over and over. It may be how Grandpa came to this country with only five dollars in his pocket. Perhaps you have an ancestor who fought in a famous battle, or you’re related to royalty. It may be the story of romance, rescue, or reconciliation.

Some of you have worked to trace your genealogies for ten plus generations. My mom has. My brothers and I love to tell the story of how our maternal grandparents met on a boat, heading back from China, right before World War II. Both died before I was born, yet their stories still influence me today.

In some ways, the stories we remember—and tell—shape us all. They explain where we came from, shed light on who we are now, and guide our steps as we move forward in life.

That is one of the reasons the Bible is so important. It is the story of us all. From Genesis’ first words to Revelation’s last lines, the Bible is the history of God’s loving and giving relationship with humanity.

Each sinner’s story is unique. Each salvation story is significant. Each chapter is essential, including the long list of complicated-to-pronounce-names found in Matthew 1:1-17, which will be the focus of this “Wrecked & Redeemed” series.

In this series, we will be revisiting some of the most compelling and dramatic stories in the whole Bible. These are the stories of five women scattered, like out of place ornaments on a Christmas tree, on Jesus’ family tree, as chronicled in the Matthew 1 genealogy. We will closely examine each of these ornaments of God’s redemption, and as we better understand their stories, we will also better understand ours.

Often when family tree stories are shared, there is a tendency to skip over or at least gloss over the dimmer and more despicable lowlights and focus on the highlights. This genealogy does just the opposite. Matthew lists some ancestors of Jesus that no one would typically be proud of as he reminds us that Jesus, the sinless Messiah, descended from sinners and came for sinners. Jesus is the kind of person who is not ashamed of sinners—he even puts them in his family tree.

All five of these women share something in common: disgrace.

These women either committed or suffered unimaginable disgrace. They had ruined reputations and endured the contempt of others. At least the first four must have struggled with nightmarish memories. Yet, each is redeemed, and each remembered.

Even in genealogies, God displays his grace.

Rather than concealing the more disgraceful events and people in his family, Jesus goes out of his way to draw attention to these women whose very names call to mind scandalous things. Why? Before Matthew even begins the story of his birth, I think to remind us why he came-to give grace to all.

Each of these ornaments on Jesus’ family tree proclaims simple messages for all to see and hear. “God loves to redeem sinners. God loves to produce beauty out of wrecked backgrounds. God loves to make foreigners his children. God loves to reconcile his enemies. God loves to highlight his work in the life of the lowest. God loves to position out of place ornaments on his family tree right out in front for all to see.”

In this “Wrecked & Redeemed” series, as we take a look at the lives of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary, we will see the way God worked in them and through them to bring about his promises and purposes in their lives and ours. Like the stories in our physical tree, these stories shape us all. They explain where we came from, shed light on who we are now, and guide our steps as we move forward in life.

Be sure to examine carefully each out of place ornament below, but before you do, explore the whole tree by reading Matthew 1:1-17 or watching and listening to the song “Matthew’s Begats” by Andrew Petersen.

The Family Tree of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 1:1-17:

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

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