The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
To be a woman in Jesus's time was to have very limited freedoms. Women didn't have the rights and privileges that men did. They couldn't own property or have jobs outside of the home. They lived in a society that completely looked down on them. All of this makes it that much more interesting that women were mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus—especially these women.
Tamar pretended to be a prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law. Rahab actually was a prostitute. Ruth descended from a family intertwined with incest and idol worship. Poor Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah) was taken advantage of by King David. And then there was Mary, who was accused of having an illegitimate son.
These women were either entangled in their own sin, abused by those with higher positions, or caught in the webs of scandalous circumstances. They did not have spotless reputations or easy lives. Some of them were not the type you'd want to bring home to meet your family. They didn't have power or accolades. But that didn’t—and doesn’t—mean Jesus did not come to this earth for them, too.
Tim Keller said, "There is no one, not even the greatest human being, who does not need the grace of Jesus Christ. And there is no one, not even the worst human being, who can fail to receive the grace of Jesus Christ if there is repentance and faith."
Jesus wasn’t born in a manger to only save those with clear reputations. The Incarnation did not occur just for the ones who have a lot of Instagram followers. Christ didn’t just arrive for the "good Christian girls" or the ladies who look like they have it all together. Jesus came for the sinners—for Tamar and Rahab and Ruth and Bathsheba and Mary and you and me.
This is a reminder of the way God loves us, yes. But it's also a reminder of how we should love—because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
We should give grace to the woman with screaming children at Trader Joe's. We should give grace to the next-door neighbor with dying plants (I am this neighbor, so please give me grace). We should give grace to the weary-eyed waitress and the heavy-laden cashier. We should give grace to the woman behind bars and the woman keeping bars in business. We should give grace to the one looking at us in the mirror. We should give grace to the delivery driver, the customer service representative, and even the people in front of us at UPS—all because this coming King is so very gracious to us.
Who do you need to give grace to today? Your coworker? Your spouse? Your mom? Your brother? Yourself? Give it. And receive it.
For all of us, from the Rahabs to the Mother Teresas, the forgiveness so freely given by our Redeemer is some really good news. Let's not forget how much we all need it this Advent.