The Gospel of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament. It was primarily written to a Jewish audience and centers on a list of Jesus’ ancestors. It was designed to convince the Jews that this lowly carpenter’s son called Jesus was, indeed, "the One," the Messiah, the deliverer, whom they had been waiting for so long.
What strikes me most about this first chapter is the unsavory lineup of characters that make up the lineage of Jesus. Take Judah & Tamar for instance. Their story is full of scandal and deceit as Judah both ignores his daughter-in-law's basic needs after her husband dies, and ends up having an illicit sexual encounter with her when she disguises herself as a prostitute to entrap him (Genesis 31). Or, what about David and Bathsheba? Their story opens with uncontrolled lust and repulsive betrayal when David murders her husband Uriah (his loyal warrior and servant), just so he can sleep with his wife (2 Samuel 11). And then, just when you think it can’t get much worse, enter king Manasseh — possibly the most monstrous figure in Israel's history. A ruthless and evil dictator who led the people of God into idolatry, witchcraft, child sacrifice, and the murder of innocents “filling the the city of Jerusalem with blood from one end to the other” (2 Kings 21).
Why would God choose such a deplorable lineage for Jesus? Whey would He mix holy and love divine with the heinous and the vile?
Maybe there’s a profound message, even in this otherwise seemingly boring genealogy. A message of love and hope, as impossible as it may seem, that is greater than ALL our sin — even the worst of our human failures and secret sin.
I find real and lasting hope here. I feel anticipation in this introductory chapter of the story we appropriately call the gospel, or “good news.” Somehow, this Immanuel, this Son of David and Son of God, was sent to be “with us” in all our muck and misery…not only to share in our sorrows and suffering…but "to save us” from them…to save even me.