In Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Mt. 1:1-17), he does something absolutely revolutionary, he includes four women: Bathsheba, Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth (plus Mary, of course). A King’s genealogy isn’t just a record of who He happens to be related to (a la today’s explosion of interest in exploring family genealogies), it is the royal lineage from which his authority and legitimacy is derived. For Matthew to include women in time and culture that doesn’t allow women to have any authority was not only unheard of, it would have unsettled, disturbed, and potentially alienated his original audience.
So… why did he do it then?
Besides dramatically grabbing the reader’s attention, Matthew was, at the very beginning of his Gospel, subverting our expectations of what kind of King this Jesus is going to be: His throne is a cradle, His heralds are shepherds, His palace is a manger, His parents are homeless and poor, His court is a menagerie of livestock… and His royal lineage includes a rape victim (Bathsheba), an abandoned widow (Tamar), a prostitute (Rahab), a widowed immigrant (Ruth), and a virgin (Mary). Each of these women have a powerful story that represents our longings for this very different kind of King and shapes our anticipation of how His Kingship will satisfy those longings.
In other words, Advent is anticipation of the Gospel…
… and the Gospel isn’t for those who’ve got their crap together this holiday season. It is for the frantic, the lonely, the discouraged and depressed. It is for those who can’t have children, and for those whose children still don’t fill the void in their hearts. It is for those who are longing, waiting, and anticipating the fulfillment we are all made for in Jesus.
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