When we think about the Christmas story, we often overlook the lineage of Jesus. In haste to meet the baby in the manger, we skip over the long list of too-difficult-to-pronouce names and jump right to the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But in doing so, we miss an integral part of the story.
If you read Matthew’s account of Jesus’s genealogy, he includes an incredible description that, until today, I had never noticed. In Matthew 1:6 he says, “the wife of Uriah.” Now if you know the Old Testament, you know that Uriah was a soldier in the Israelite army under King David. And his wife, Bathsheba was beautiful. So beautiful in fact that King David purposefully had Uriah killed so that he could take Bathsheba for himself.
But why didn’t Matthew call Bathsheba by name? He certainly knew her name and he had mentioned other women previously in the genealogy. Why is this phrasing so important?
In recording the lineage of Jesus, Matthew purposefully makes the distinction of adultery and murder. By saying, “the wife of Uriah” he specifically points to David’s imperfection.
It’s as if God is saying, “I remember.”
But unexpectedly, He’s also saying, “It doesn’t matter.”
An Unexpected Gift
Religious culture has become predicated on obedience and perfection and polished piety. But Matthew blatantly tells the world that Jesus’s ancestors were adulterers—they were prostitutes, they were underdogs, they were murders. And God didn’t care. He used them anyway.
God cares less about what we do and more about who we are. That offends our logical, obedient, just minds. It doesn’t seem right. It’s unfair. But Christmas reminds us that God isn’t fair. He’s good.
Sometimes it feels like we can’t access God because of our disobedience. Shame builds an invisible wall that is impossible to scale. More importantly, we feel incapable of doing God’s work because we’re not perfect. As a result, we live clouded in the guilt of the past instead of receiving the blessing of the present.
The lineage of Jesus is an essential part of the Christmas story because God is saying, “I know. And I love you anyway. I know. And I’m going to use you anyway.”
This Christmas, I pray that you would feel that to the bottom of your toes. In Christ, you have received an unexpected gift from an imperfect lineage. And by that very declaration, God is saying, “I’m with you.” You don’t have to clean yourself up, you don’t have to dust yourself off, you don’t have to cover up your past. God knows. And He doesn’t care.
Start looking for Jesus in the imperfect and unexpected.
Merry Christmas, friends.