Matthew begins with what is important to a Jew, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). The Hebrew people want to know where you come from; specifically who was your father and your father’s father. It was a bit of a surprise, then, to find four moms in the family tree: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the unnamed (though everyone knows it was Bathsheba) wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:3, 6); all the more scandalous, because they were mostly women of scandal and non-Jews.
Most shocking is the fifth woman, a virgin, yet with child “from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). Joseph will be the husband of Mary, but not the father of Jesus, and his role is secondary in the story. Conductor Leonard Bernstein opined, “second fiddle” is the most difficult instrument to play, “Every one wants to be first violinist, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.” Joseph played a faithful harmony, “when Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matthew 1:24).
The scandals, the women, the Gentiles in the genealogy set the stage for a Savior who came to save not the privileged, but the outcasts, not the well, “but those who are sick; not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13). This is good news, because Jesus came to save the lost, like me.
My Lord and Savior, You came not as expected, not in majesty, but humility. Thank You for meeting me where I am. You loved me that much. Teach me faith and obedience, to follow Your commands because they are good, to live in harmony with Your Spirit.
May I be an ambassador of Your good news, an example of what You do in the life of one who is saved. May I love as You love, almost scandalously, going to unexpected places and bringing good news to the sick, to the sinners like me.