As I was reading Matthew 1 this morning, I was thinking about the women listed in Jesus’ genealogy. In the patriarchal world of the ancient Middle East, if a woman was listed you better take notice because the author had a very specific reason for listing her. It is repeatedly pointed out that some of them were foreign to Israel and thus their inclusion spoke to the inclusive nature of Jesus’ mission. As I was pondering these women, it also struck me that each of them was oppressed or marginalized in some fashion.
Tamar was widowed and left to wither alone in her father’s house; yet, she risked her life by tricking her father-in-law into doing his duty as her patriarch. She dressed as a prostitute, offered herself to Judah, and got a set of twins which birthed the line of Jesus for her efforts. God redeemed her.
Rahab was a gentile prostitute (the Hebrew also indicates “innkeeper” – which had a reputation for debauchery in that time) who believed in God – based on his reputation alone – enough to risk her life to help his people. God redeemed her.
Ruth was a Moabitess – an eternal enemy of the Israelites – and a widow. She gave up a life of security, protection, and provision to care for her beloved mother-in-law through weeks of hard desert travel to an unknown country and unknown future because she met a trustworthy God through her husband’s family. She was led to Boaz, who provided for her and Naomi and eventually became their go’el – their kinsman redeemer. God redeemed her.
Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, bathed on a roof built into the palace wall – in clear site of the palace and anyone who cared to look from its heights. *Gasp! Scandalous.* Whether by choice or coercion, she spent a night with the king while her husband was at war – resulting in her husband’s murder by said king to cover up their sin and the resulting pregnancy. She married her husband’s murderer and birthed the wisest/richest king in biblical history, and the line of the Eternal King who became the savior of the world. God redeemed her.
Mary lived humbly and righteously. She was called to risk her life to bring forth Messiah into the world. She rejoiced in her plight. God redeemed her.
Whatever your background or history says about you, God will redeem you, too.