The scandelous, scheming, thoroughly sinful ancestors of Jesus

I was reading in Ruth recently and was again awed by the line Jesus chose to come through.  Have you ever carefully inspected His ancestry laid out in the first chapter of Matthew? It’s quite a rough bunch of people.

He could have selected only the most reverent, God-fearing people to be his great-great grandparents.  Or at least people without their scandels so publicly recorded. I would have if I had been the one coming down from heaven to save people.  I mean, if I were leaving the honor, glory, riches, and perfect comforts of heaven to become a miserable human subject to sickness, weariness, disease, and lack, I would have at least wanted to come from an honorable (or not so obviously dishonorable) line of men and women.  Instead he chose:

The Unwanted – Jacob worked seven years to marry his love, the beautiful Rachel.  But his father-in-law deceived him and stuck him with Rachel’s uglier, older sister.  Leah was the unloved wife of Jacob. And not just unloved – the Bible says she was “hated.” (Genesis 29:31)  You’d think the Lord of Love would want to come from the happy couple.  But he choose Leah to be His super-great grandmother. 

Schemers – Leah’s son, Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, came up with the profitable plan of disposing of the pesky Joseph by selling him instead of simply killing him.  (Genesis 37:26-27) You’d think Jesus would have chosen Joseph to be his forefather, the one to whom God gave wisdom through dreams, who succeeded in every endeavor he undertook regardless of the adversity, and ultimately saved God’s chosen people from starvation. Seems like a no-brainer to me. But he chose Judah.

Immoral Liars – Judah later went on to have sex with his daughter-in-law.  To his credit, he didn’t know she was his daughter-in-law; he thought she was merely a cult prostitute. (That makes it a little better, doesn’t it?)  And she posed as a prostitute only because Judah lied about letting her marry his youngest son.  (Somewhat reasonable, no?) The son of this union, Perez, was Jesus’ forefather. (Genesis 38) Seems to me, the Lord of Life would have wanted to be as far from this kind of scandal as he could get. Yet he placed His line right smack in the middle of it.

Non-Jews – Skip down a few names in the Matthew line-up and you get to Ruth, a Moabite. To put in perspective who the Moabites were, they sent Balaam to prophecy destruction upon Israel when they were preparing to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 22-24)  They were also the first ones to seduce the sons of Israel to worship their gods. (Numbers 25:1-3) So, not only was she not one of God’s chosen people, she was from a people who were historically trying to tear down the Jews and their God.

Adulterers and Murderers – Ruth’s grandson was David, who had sex with a married woman and then had her husband, a man of remarkable integrity, killed.  (2 Samuel 11).

Fools – David’s son, Solomon, was blessed with more wisdom and discernment than anyone who ever lived.  Yet, this wisdom didn’t help him avoid the meaningless pursuit of happiness that the rest of us fools engage in. (See the book of Ecclesiastes) Seems like a wasted gift of wisdom to me.  I might have been ashamed to have such a fool for a super-great grandpa. But not our Lord.

So why didn’t he choose a better line?  Weren’t there better options – some more self-controlled, strong, pristine people?  The Bible says there weren’t.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. 

If we peeked into the private lives of those we think are super-righteous, we’d find that they are no better than the characters on this list.  And if we’re truthful, we’ll admit we’re no better either. Sure,we’ve had some nice moments.  But we have all had far more dark moments.  Our good moments could never undo the bad ones. That’s why he had to come. He didn’t come to save the righteous any more than a doctor comes to cure the healthy.

And in the same way that he chose a ratty, pathetic bunch as His physical family, he chooses ratty, pathetic people to join His spiritual family. So, on those days when I feel ashamed of how evil I can be, this truth comforts me. When Satan brings His accusations to me, I can agree with every last one of them and still remain secure in my salvation. 

Yes, I wanted to drop my son to the ground so that he would see that kicking and screaming is not a wise way to respond to his mommy. 

Yes, I shouted like a child for quiet because I couldn’t think straight with all the childish noise bubbling around me. 

Yes, I brimmed with self-pity when my husband asked me to serve him in some way that I felt was unfair.

Yes, I pouted under the circumstance that God allowed for my good because I couldn’t comprehend how changing wet bedding for the fifth night in a row was good for anyone.

No, I’m not very wise.  Not very strong.  I can’t boast in myself (at least not without telling half-truths at best).

But I’m in a great company of weak, foolish people who have Jesus as our Redeemer and King.  We can boast that he did everything we could not.  He never lost his temper or control of his tongue.  He never rolled his eyes when asked to serve in some capacity.  He never even groaned in his heart with self-pity or writhed under God’s providencial dealings.

In him, all of us who admit we’re weak, selfish, sinful fools and trust in him for forgiveness for our sins, have access to strength that goes far beyond our own and grace that far exceeds our sin. Praise God!

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31


One thought on “The scandelous, scheming, thoroughly sinful ancestors of Jesus

  1. “Behold, your King is coming to you,
    Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
    a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

    “And He was numbered with the transgressors”

    “He has no stately form or splendor, and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him”

    “And He rose from supper and laid aside His garments, and took a towel and girded Himself, after that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet….”

    My Lord, My King, My God

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