Olivia Dear Thames
Advent: December 5
“Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you.”
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 include women in any genealogy, especially that of the Son of God, was completely countercultural.
Men were the ones listed in genealogies—after all, they were the heads of families. They had the rights and the privileges and the places in society at that time . . . things women did not. Women couldn’t own property or even have jobs outside of the home. Being a female in this time and in this place meant having very limited freedoms.
But these customs were not what Matthew followed in the first chapter of his gospel to tell the story of those who came before the newborn King. Jesus descended “by Tamar” (Matthew 1:3) and “by Rahab” (Matthew 1:5) and “by Ruth” (Matthew 1:5) and from “the wife of Uriah” (Matthew 1:6–referring to Bathsheba), and of course, “of Mary” (Matthew 1:16), His mother. While it was wild to include women in general in a genealogy, it was especially unique to include women with their reputations.
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. Bathsheba 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 or just scandalous circumstances. They did not have spotless reputations or easy lives. They definitely didn’t have a lot of power or a lot of accolades. But that didn’t—and doesn’t—mean Jesus did not come to this earth for them, too.
Jesus wasn’t born in a manger to only save those with clear reputations. The Incarnation did not occur just for the ones who look cute on Instagram or successful on LinkedIn. Christ didn’t just arrive for the good Christian girls or the ones always serving on Sundays or those who come from great families or those women who are blessed with perfect hair (you know the type). Jesus came for the sinners—for Tamar and Rahab and Ruth and Bathsheba and Mary and you and me. He does not count us out or ignore us because of our stained backgrounds, our many mistakes, or our own poor perceptions of ourselves.
Jesus came to earth for the woman at the well for the same reason He came for Mother Teresa: to give us new life. Your past or present failings do not disqualify you from receiving the gift of Christ. Your mistakes do not discredit you for being “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
This is a reminder of the way God loves us, yes. But it's also a reminder of how we should then love those around us. 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, 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.
Advent is all about grace: God so graciously giving us His Son. Jesus so graciously giving us Himself. And this Advent, in remembrance of this gift, we can be gracious, too.
We can be gracious with our words when Kroger cancels yet another pickup order. We can be gracious with the driver with the blinker on who needs to get in our lane. We can be gracious with our mothers and our sisters and our friends and our spouses. We can be gracious with ourselves when we look in the mirror. We can be gracious with the AT&T customer service line (my conversations with them will definitely be coming up at the gates), the delivery driver working late, the drive-thru employee who gave you Coke instead of Diet Coke.
Because this coming King is so very gracious to us.
Jesus came to give grace to the Tamars and Rahabs and Ruths and Bathshebas and Marys and yous and mes. He came to give grace to who society sees as the least of these. He came to give grace to those at the bottom of the corporate ladder. He came to give grace to those with messy backgrounds and tangled todays and uncertain tomorrows.
No matter who you are or what you have done (or haven’t done), the grace of the coming King is a gift you can receive this Advent. Your Redeemer has come to redeem. Your Savior has come to save. And for all of us, from the prostitute to the pastor’s wife, this grace is some really good news.