“Therfore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The New Testament begins with the book of Matthew and showcases more drama than a Hallmark movie. The book starts off with a genealogy trail that leads from Abraham to the birth of Jesus.
This list of names might make you yawn, but it’s actually really important – and even exciting. Yes. You read that right! It’s fascinating because it gives evidence to a family line that shows Jesus was a descendent of both Abraham and King David, thus fulfilling what the Old Testament predicted about the lineage of the Messiah …..
Scandal steps onto the page in verse three of Matthew chapter one when a woman’s name shows up. (Traditionally, only the names of men appeared in these family lineages.) But this wasn’t just any woman, it’s one from the shady side of the family tree … Tamar. She had a past, and any Jewish scholar worth their salt would know about it. She was used and abused by men that should’ve loved, protected, and provided for her. Once scorned, she schemed for revenge and ended up having twins to her father-in-law. One of the twins, Perez, is an ancestor to King David …..
As the list goes on we see a few more eyebrow-raising names ..…
Rahab’s name is listed. Remember her? She was the prostitute who “turned good” when she helped Joshua and the Israelites capture Jericho. Bathsheba’s on the list too, but they don’t even mention her by name. She’s recorded this way, “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.” (Matthew 1:6) Nice. Archived as the woman who had an affair with King David while she was married to a soldier named Uriah.
All three of these women were known, but not necessarily for cleaned up good things. Seeing these women listed among the relatives of Jesus seems very … well, messy. It seems to me that historians would want to hide those names, not put them out there for everyone to see! But that’s not God’s way. He doesn’t sweep things under the rug and pretend they aren’t there, and thank heavens for that. He loves us way too much to leave us as we are.
And strangely enough, I’m encouraged by the presence of these women in the lineage of Jesus. Why? Because they are powerful displays of His grace.
And isn’t that exactly what you and I are – perfect examples of His grace; that He would wait for and then save a wretch like me ….
These women are proof that God does not require perfection from us in order for His will to be done through us. The apostle Paul summed it up nicely in his second letter to the church of Corinth: “the old life has gone — a new life has begun” …..
And I like the way the Amplified Version states it: “so from now on we regard no one from a human point of view (according to worldly standands and values). Though we have known Christ from a human point of view, now we no longer know Him in this way. Therefore if anyone is in Christ (that is, grafted in, joined to Him in faith as Saviour), he is a new creature (reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit); the old things (the previous moral and spiritual condition) have passed away. Behold new things have come (because spiritual awakening brings new life) …..
So you have a past. So did Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba. I do too. Who doesn’t? We all have mistakes, failures, poor choices and regrets. So you have a few people in your family with rusty reputations. So do I. So did Jesus. So you have some shame or pain regarding things that were done to you … things that were or are beyond your control. You’re not alone. Jesus did too ….
But the wonderful beauty in all of the travesty and injustices is that your past does not define you! Nor does any failures, inefficiencies or inadequacies. Nothing we’ve ever done or experienced defines or determines our usefulness to God or His perfect design for our lives or in what capacity we may be used by Him …..
God’s mercy reaches beyond the muck and mire of our pasts to recreate us in the grace and love of Jesus. He lifts fallen heads, purifies rebellious hearts, and places slippery feet on solid ground ….
Nothing about having a “past” or “complicated associations” can keep you from walking out the freedom and hope of Jesus. God always uses the broken to showcase His beauty. Believe it and then receive it into your heart …..
I would encourage you in closing to read (Isaiah 41:8-14). Can you see anything in this passage that tells you something about God? Can you sense His leading you to a new thing, a new path perhaps? Seek Him and pray for His direction. There are no limits to God’s grace, His love, or His capabilities to use us for His glory. Remember: the only limits are those that we place on ourselves …..
Let us pray ~
Dear Lord, Thank you for grace… for not holding my past against me … for declaring me a new creation in Christ. Please help me to trust you with my past and with my future. Please place in me an irreplaceable identity and help me see the value in myself as You see me. Take away all the bad and accusing memories and fill me with Your light that I may be used for Your glory and honor. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen ….