This year Crystal and I are working through Rediscovering Christmas together.
Yesterday our assigned reading was Matthew 1. Normally I'd skip over the genealogy, because (to be honest) it's boring, and I can't pronounce half the names. This time I was doing it with someone else, so the pressure was on, I HAD to read it.
AND an amazing thing happened...
It spoke to me.
As I was reading through the list of names in Jesus' family tree, it struck me... His family was screwed up!
Not only did the verses tie Jesus back to David (fulfilling OT prophecy), it also listed some questionable characters along the way. Most of the names mean nothing to us in 2010, but when Matthew was writing this to the Jews these names carried a lot of meaning.
There are some spiritual superheros in there, David, Jacob, Ruth (a WOMAN!) and Solomon. There are also some sketchy characters listed. Liars, adulterers, murderers and back-stabbers. Tamar (not a Jew) was seduced by, and bore illegitimate twins with her father in-law. Rahab (not a Jew) was a prostitute.
Normally women aren't mentioned in these sorts of genealogies, so why did Matthew include them? Wouldn't it introduce doubt into the whole "messiah" debate? Why wouldn't God place his son into a more respectable family?
Maybe for the same reasons Jesus wasn't born in a palace. If you look at the big picture, it fits. Jesus came into the world to save those very people. He spent time with the "un-clean" people of society. All through the Bible, God uses the broken, the hopeless and the losers to accomplish his goals. Jesus came from the screwed up, to save the screwed up.
THAT is the good news of Christmas.
(At least for screw-ups like me)