The Skeletons in the Closet Reveal the Grace of God
If you were writing a book in hopes of making the best seller list, I doubt you would begin by putting a genealogy on the first page. But, that is exactly what Matthew did. Why provide the boring list of names in Jesus’ family history? Matthew was validating Christ as King by proving his royal line through his father David and his racial line through his father Abraham. He was without doubt prompted by the Holy Spirit to write this record because all genealogy records were destroyed in A.D. 70 when the Roman, Titus Vespasian, sacked Jerusalem.
Had there been a king in Jerusalem during the days of Jesus it would likely have been Joseph, the man who adopted him. Joseph was a direct descendent of David. But Mary was also a descendent of David so Christ had the royal blood running through his veins. Christ was therefore, the son of Joseph which gave him the legal standing to be king and he was the son of Mary which gave him the royal right to be king.
The genealogy has some interesting nuggets of truth if you dig deep enough. Matthew 1:10-11 tells of Jeconiah who was the son of Josiah. If you refer to Jeremiah 22:30 you find that Jeconiah, also called Coniah, was a very evil man. The Lord cursed him and declared him childless. “no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David.” If Jeconiah is in the direct line and the line is broken because of the curse, then how can Christ be king because the line has been broken?
The sovereign plan of God cannot be frustrated or compromised by the failures of men. The curse of Jeconiah was bypassed by the virgin birth. Joseph carried within him the cursed blood of Jeconiah but Mary did not so Joseph was bypassed and the seed in Mary was planted there by the Holy Spirit of God.
Of the forty two names mentioned in the family history, there were at least four women mentioned whose reputations were severely tarnished. Matthew 1:3 speaks of Tamar. Genesis 38 teaches us that Tamar was a prostitute. Perez and Zerah were born to Tamar as a result of the incorrigible sin of incest. All three are listed in the genealogy!
Matthew 1:5 speaks of Rahab. She was a prostitute who ran a house of whores in Jericho. Not only is she in the messianic line, she gave birth to Boaz who is a symbol of Christ himself.
Matthew 1:5 also speaks of Ruth the Moabitess. The Moabites were a whole race of people that had been produced by incest. They were cursed and despised by their neighbors. Ruth was a pagan who married Boaz and became the great-grandmother of David.
Bathsheba’s name is found in verse 6. She is well known as the adulteress who answered David’s call while her husband was off to war. She gave birth to Solomon who followed David to the throne. She ran into the arms of the man who had her husband murdered.
So, what was God thinking? He plugged into the family tree of Jesus a most evil man cursed of God, two prostitutes, a pagan and an adulterous woman. Why are they there and what does this say about God? It reveals him as a God of grace. 1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”
The genealogy of Christ validates the truth of the word of God. Any other king would go to extreme means to hide the skeletons in his closet but Christ exposes all the dirty laundry so that we might see the wonder of the grace of God.
I relate more with the weak than the strong. I’ll never write an autobiography. There is too much in my past to be ashamed of. But, by the grace of God, I now minister to youth in a Christian high school and I’m an associate pastor of a Nazarene church. Living proof that God can use the foolish as well as the wise, the weak as well as the strong. He isn’t looking for perfect character, he is looking for perfect willingness.
So, if you see yourself as least likely to be qualified to minister for Christ and you identify more with the skeletons in the closet, should your heart be willing, you may very well find yourself standing in a pulpit or trudging toward a mission field one day because “The harvest is great and the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37)