“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” – Matthew 1: 22 – 23
Jesus is His name.
Jesus Christ – Immanuel – ultimately means, “God saves, the Anointed One – God with us.”
Chapter 1 of Matthew is a Jewish genealogy, intended to tie the Old Testament to the New Testament. If you look closely at the lineage of Jesus, you’ll notice something a little strange. Yes, in the lineage you’ll see King David and the father-of-faith Abraham, but you’ll also notice five women.
Women being mentioned in a Jewish genealogy is strange because traditionally women were viewed as less than important, but Matthew knew what he was doing by writing their names in the lineage. Let’s take a look at their stories:
Tamar (Genesis 38): She deceived her father-in-law into having sex with her, in order that she may have what she truly believed she deserved – an heir.
Rahab (Joshua 2): Although she was a prostitute and foreigner, she feared the LORD and kept a promise to the Israelites, that they might overthrow Jericho and have the land.
Ruth (her book): She lived in a time when all of Israel were pursuing pleasures instead of the LORD, and yet while she was a foreigner (and a young widow) in the land, she remained faithful to the LORD and her bitter mother-in-law.
Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11): She was simply described as “very beautiful.” King David, having “remained in Jerusalem” “when kings go off to war,” called on her for sex. (Can we just take a moment to address this, that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time far before he walked onto the roof top to watch a woman bathing?) After he found out she was pregnant, David tried to cover up his sin, and a snowball became an avalanche ending in the death of Uriah, who was Bathsheba’s husband.
Mary: In upcoming chapters, Mary will be described as pure, but when Joseph (her fiancé) first heard that Mary was pregnant, his immediate thought was not that she had been made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. No, more than likely he felt shame, shame because his fiancee had had sex with another man. So, he resolved to call off the engagement in private, leaving Mary with some dignity – or so he thought. See, Joseph was a righteous man, a man who lived by faith. And he was the man that God had chosen to raise His Son. So, God’s plan would prevail, and Joseph’s plan would be stopped by God’s messenger.
Over and over again, the genealogy of Jesus could have been snipped as a thread is snipped by a pair of scissors, but God would not allow it. All these things – Tamar’s deceit, Rahab’s betrayal of her own people, Ruth’s choice to stay with a bitter woman, Bathsheba’s answer to the king’s lustful call, and even Joseph’s lack of knowledge – could not stop the plan of God. In fact, in a lot of ways, God used these shining, shimmering human failures to glorify Himself.
Is there something in your life right now that seems unfair or doesn’t make sense, but may actually be used for ultimate good in the end?
Carry on, because more than likely, whatever it is, it’s leading to Jesus and His plan.