Friday, January 4, 2019
Meeting Matthew Again...Anew for the First Time
Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy...you can click here to read all the names.
Genealogy and knowing where we come from can be fascinating. DNA testing companies seem ubiquitous. The fact that Matthew starts by naming names that make up the roots of Jesus' family tree.
If you were brave and decided to click on the above link you might have:
A...been interested to read all the generations of Jesus stretching back to Abraham.
B...wondered about the stories behind each of those names.
C...fallen asleep...in which case you are probably not reading this blog any more.
D...you didn't click the link...and the above hasn't resolved any kind of conflict within you.
Genealogies are not for everyone. My uncle is fascinated in it...my mother never was. Some people love seeing that the farm in the Midwest went back to the 1800s....some people don't see the relevance to their lives today.
Jesus' family tree is no less complicated.
What is fascinating about the list is five names in particular: Tamar; Rahab; Ruth; wife of Uriah; and Mary - as in mother of Jesus.
Notice: all five are women...in a rather long list of men.
Notice: all five have difficult backgrounds - some are the victim of sexual assault in the case of Tamar...Rahab was a prostitute...Ruth was a Moabite woman - which was akin to a woman involved in shows in Las Vegas...wife of Uriah (her name was Bathsheba and David had Uriah killed after he slept with her)....Mary had Jesus out of wedlock.
That is a fascinating list.
Notice: that Matthew is making a theological claim about God working in the lives of people who do not always confirm to societal norms. Matthew is claiming that these women's stories, far from being hidden away as a family secret, goes and shines a light. Perhaps Matthew is saying that if Ruth can be the great grandmother of David and Bathsheba can birth Solomon (who built the temple), then maybe we shouldn't judge Mary so harshly or quickly.
You see, our family trees say more about us than we sometimes think. We are our parent's children for good...for bad...for worst...for all the above and more. Matthew bravely and boldly proclaims, this is who Jesus is. Jesus does not have perfect DNA...because neither do any of us. Jesus has a past...because all of us do too. Jesus doesn't hide or run or deny the beauty and brokenness, but says, "God can work in and through this."
I pray as we move deeper into the gospel of Matthew, you will hold this theological claim in your heart. Matthew proclaims and preaches from the beginning that we are who we are because of who we come from. The DNA we share...not only with our ancestors...for Genesis claims we are made of the same stuff as star dust. We are woven with the beauty of all creation. So may we celebrate the moments that make us who we are and whose we are. May this truth offer more than a trace of God's grace.