The historical recordof Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham…
Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,
Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,
Obed fathered Jesse,
and Jesse fathered King David.
—Matthew 1:1, 5-6 (HCSB)
Interest in genealogies has risen in recent years. With the advent of popular websites and discussion pages, many have become fascinated with the idea of tracing their roots.
This means hours of poring over historical records, census data, and immigration reports. For some, it’s a search for meaning and purpose. For others, it might be an attempt to improve their self-worth by finding that missing connection to someone important in their past.
Because of my love for history, I’ve dabbled in some genealogy myself, only to discover, at first glance, that I come from a pretty average family with not much to talk about. Or maybe there is. Hidden away in my ancestry are the stories of dozens of individuals who touched others with their lives and changed the way our family was perceived. There were even some stories that, upon closer look, revealed fascinating tales of courage, wisdom, and love.
The same could be said of Jesus. These passages from Matthew and Luke do a couple of really important things for His story. First, they connect Him to the prophecies of the Old Testament. They establish for the readers that Jesus was, without a doubt, the predicted Messiah that Israel had waited on. His royal lineage couldn’t be denied.
An even closer look reveals the kind of Messiah He would be—a King without comparison whose kingdom would be built on grace. Story after story, name after name, the roll call of Jesus’ ancestors reveals liars, thieves, prostitutes, and shady characters. This isn’t exactly where you’d choose a king, especially the long-awaited Savior.
Jesus’ family tree shows that our failures can never carry us so far that God can’t redeem us. Rather than look at our mistakes, God chooses to focus on our faith.
Take Rahab as an example. She’s best known as the prostitute who lived inside the walls of Jericho while the Hebrew people came out of the wilderness to claim the Promised Land. If you could ask Rahab’s neighbors about her, they might roll their eyes and point you to her questionable character and a life filled with immoral choices.
Thousands of years later, the writer of Hebrews would choose to remember her this way: “By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed” (Hebrews 11:31).
Because Rahab chose to lie, some would question her place in Jesus’ genealogy. Surely someone with a history of lying wouldn’t be worthy to be a distant relative of the Savior, right?
As with every other hero of the faith (including others in Jesus’ family), Rahab’s faith wasn’t perfect, but it was real. God honored that. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David. She became an ancestor to Jesus the Christ.
- Have you ever felt like there were parts of your life that disqualified you from being used by God? How does the family tree of Jesus change that perspective?
- What does Rahab’s story teach you about God’s grace and love?
- What are some ways you can encourage others in overcoming their past mistakes and living in anticipation of how God can use them?
- If God offers that forgiveness for their mistakes (and yours), how does that change the grace you offer to others?