“I need some more Jesus in my Bible time…”
That’s what I was thinking as I jumped ahead to Matthew 1 on my Bible app. I’ve been going through a chronological Bible reading plan, so I am still in the part of scripture that deals with the wars, bloodshed and kingdoms of the Israelite people.
I find a lot of hope in the Old Testament stories- where God saw. I find encouragement when I read about God seeing people– the hurting, the disenfranchised, the neglected and the abused even when people, society and culture looked the other way. Even when they participated in the harm.
Hear me when I say I FEEL that. Sometimes though, a girl just needs Jesus.
That’s the state my heart was in when I flipped to Matthew 1 this morning. I was thirsty for Jesus. I was desperate to NOT read about war and bloodshed in God’s Holy Word. I figured Matthew 1 was the best place to start. It’s the beginning of the New Testament after all, so I thought I would read the story of Jesus, start to finish.
I started reading and thought, “REALLY!?”
I just left the Old Testament, the home of genealogies, to encounter YET ANOTHER genealogy story?
I was tempted to just jump ahead. Verse 18 picks up the story of Joseph accepting Jesus as his son…that sounds a lot more like what I wanted to read about today.
Conviction prevented me from skipping ahead. I had made a decision to start at the beginning of Matthew, so start at the beginning of Matthew I would.
Have you ever done this? Fought an internal battle with yourself over scripture? Have you shouted, “But I don’t wanna!” at God as you read your way through his word?
No? Just me?
But as I began reading, the Holy Spirit spoke directly to my heart. I was reminded of so many of the people in the Old Testament that have given me hope, faith and encouragement through the last few months. It’s been a hard few months.
It didn’t take long, either. “Judah, the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez…” (Matthew 1:3)
Tamar and Judah. One of my favorite stories in scripture.
A woman who did everything in her power to claim the one thing her culture promised her- offspring in the line of Judah. I wrote about Tamar and Judah here: https://cassicox.blog/2020/01/31/your-motives-matter-tamar-and-judah/
Her son, Perez, was part of the lineage of Jesus. A child created when a woman had to resort to dressing as a prostitute to get her father in law to honor his commitment to her. While the men around her were being put to death for their sinful hearts, Tamar was rewarded with two sons. One who was part of the lineage of Jesus.
Thank you, Lord, for this reminder.
“Salmon, the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…” (Matthew 1:5)
Rahab. The same Rahab found in the book of Joshua? Perhaps.
Rahab was likely a prostitute, whose entire community was destroyed by Joshua and the Hebrews as they set out to claim the promised land. She was only spared because of the kindness she showed to Joshua’s spies when soldiers came to capture them in her home. He spared Rahab, along with her family. She was a Canaanite.
So much trauma.
Could a traumatized Canaanite prostitute be part of the lineage of Jesus?
Thank you Lord, for this.
“Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth…”
A woman who lost both her husband and her father-in-law. She chose to sacrifice her own comfort to honor and remain with her mother-in-law.
Loss. Grief. Upheaval. Trauma. All represented in the lineage of Jesus.
Thank you, Lord.
“…David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife...” (Matthew 1:6)
Oh, Bathsheba. Her story always rips at me. Bathing on the rooftop after her menstrual cycle as was Jewish religious custom, she was spotted by the King. He decided he must have her, so he took her. A king using his power to get what he wanted- to possess a woman’s body. Today we call that sexual misconduct. Sexual exploitation. Sexual assault.
When she became pregnant, King David, attempting to keep his own image intact, had her husband Uriah killed. More trauma. Loss. Grief.
When King David married Bathsheba, claiming her as his, pridefully declaring through his actions that he had found a loophole, his child dies.
Her child dies. Not for any fault of hers, according to the prophet Nathan, but because of David’s sin. More Loss. The grief of losing a child is unimaginable.
Grief, trauma. betrayal. exploitation. All part of the lineage of Jesus.
Thank you Lord, for reminding me.
“and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called Messiah.” (Matthew 1:14)
And then there’s Mary.
Mary the mother of Jesus. A woman facing a young, unwed, unplanned pregnancy. A woman’s whose betrothed could have had her put to death for her pregnancy.
Mary, a woman who ultimately watched her son, the Messiah, be tortured and killed. I cannot imagine that a resurrection erased those images from her memory.
I went looking for Jesus this morning and I found him. I found his story woven through the Old Testament texts I’ve been wrestling with these last six months. I found him in the violence, the trauma, the heartbreak. I found him in his own lineage.
Five Women. Five stories, full of pain. Five complicated stories of trauma and triumph, heartbreak and healing, betrayal, brokenness and ultimately freedom.
Their stories end with Jesus. Salvation, yes, but so much more. Freedom. Restoration. Hope.
The BIG story culminates with God becoming man to meet us right where we are- in all of our broken, sinful glory, and modeling a better way.
A better way to live. A better way to love. A calling to a better way of carrying the image of God within us.
Now we get to carry out that calling.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you.