Regardless what you believe about Christmas, many people would agree there are some interesting characters connected to the story of Christmas. There are the obvious characters of baby Jesus, Mary the mother, and Joseph the father. However, some of the supporting characters provide interesting perspective and even the ability to relate to this amazing & peculiar story.
Matthew starts his account of Jesus' life with a genealogy, which might seem strange to many of us. However, Matthew's main audience was Jewish people wanting to know if this was the real Messiah. All of them knew that the real Messiah would have come through the family line of King David. So Matthew starts off with the genealogy to answer that question first.
In doing so, Matthew includes some rather odd family members, especially 4 women. In this time, histories were written by hired men to make kings, emperors, and generals look good, almost always leaving out the defeats & unsuccessful children or at least downplaying them. And just about every time women were not mentioned - just men. However, Matthew had a purpose to include these women:
- Tamar - a sketchy story to say the least
- Rahab - a woman with a past
- Ruth - a non-Jewish woman
- Bathsheba - the woman who committed adultery with King David
It would be reasonable to wonder why would Matthew include these women and seemingly unnecessary distractions to proving Jesus was from David's family?
Matthew knew these somewhat shady, unexpected characters & situations were the point of the story he was about to tell. Matthew knew their sin & distance from God was the issue that Jesus came to address. Jesus didn't just come for sinners. Jesus came from sinners because...
The story of Christmas includes sinners & those far from God.
From Matthew's experience being with Jesus for 3 years, hearing Jesus teach, watching Jesus interact with various types of people, seeing Jesus die on a cross, and standing at His empty tomb, he experienced this purpose of Christmas. Matthew's own story (Matthew 9:1-13) of being an outcast sinner (tax collector) who was far from God also was part of the reason he wanted to include these scandalous characters in Jesus' genealogy. He knew better than many that Jesus came for sinners from those far from God.