LIKE ME, JESUS HAD ODDBALLS in his family tree.
I’ve been thinking about my family a lot lately because I’ve been scanning old family photos, some dating back a century.
I don’t have any vintage photos of my family members in high society.
I’ve got coal miners, lots of them.
I’ve got factory workers, quite a few.
I’ve got alcoholics and felons. But I’ve got one part-time peace officer, as well: my great-grandfather, if I remember the stories correctly.
No preachers. But a grandpap who could play the pie-annie like nobody’s business: ragtime or Hallelujah time. I remember him hitting those keys like each fingertip was the head of a ballpeen hammer.
“Play it again, Pap-pap!”
If I had some of the people in my family tree that Jesus did, I don’t think I’d admit it. And if I did admit it, I wouldn’t name names. Notice that I didn’t name the alcoholics and felons.
What’s odd about Jesus’ family tree is that it includes women. Jews rarely mentioned women in family trees. You might as well mention a mule. Old Nellie.
If they did mention any women, they’d go for the famous ones. Yet Matthew skipped Sarah, Mother of the Jews. And he skipped Rebekah, the wife of Isaac.
What’s oddest of all is that Matthew mentioned four women of questionable reputations. I’m putting that nicely, giving way to my better judgment.
- Tamar. A widow, she needed a son to inherit her dead husband’s estate. So she pretended to be a hooker and slept with her father-in-law. She got twins out of that deal.
- Rahab. She was probably the only famous Rahab in the Bible, the prostitute who helped the Israelite spies that Joshua sent to scout out the city he was about to destroy.
- Ruth. A young Arab who crawled under the covers of a nicely aged man…and proposed marriage. He accepted. Who the heck wouldn’t?
- Bathsheba. Wife of a soldier off at war, she had an affair with King David. Got pregnant.
See a theme running here?
Looks like sex to me.
Scholars debate why Matthew included these women in the genealogy of Jesus. One guess: Matthew was setting readers up to accept the story of unmarried Mary getting pregnant.
Her story, as far as most snoots would have concluded, put her in the company of those shady ladies.
Yet Matthew’s point, according to some scholars, is that all four ladies in Jesus’s family tree are souls God used to accomplish big plans for his people.
Mary and her Boy would do the same.
It doesn’t seem to matter much about who’s who in our family story. What matters, it seems, is that God is in our family story.
With God, a carpenter’s family would change the course of history.
God seems to enjoy getting his stuff done through people like that.
He’s funny that way.
For more about the family of Jesus
- Jesus’ family: “He’s crazy”
- Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Gospel 2.0, “Jesus’ family,” page 246
- Understanding Jesus, “Joseph’s first family,” page 31; “Bizarre tales of Jesus as a boy,” page 58
A hot-off-the-press book review
I just saw the first review of my August release, A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible. It comes from the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association), the organization of Christian retailers who sell my books.
A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible: Take a journalistic look at the Bible.
Author Stephen Miller has penned numerous books about the Bible. His vantage point is that of a journalist, “a news reporter who went to seminary.”
Readers will enjoy the way Miller uses a journalist’s point of view to report Bible stories accurately in A Quick, Guided Tour Through the Bible (Harvest House, p, $19.99, ISBN: 9780736960755). Nine of the book’s 12 chapters cover stories and events depicted in the Old Testament, and three cover the New Testament through the book of Acts. It concludes with a short section on Bible lands today.
Miller also provides lots of background details. The writing is snappy, catchy, and extremely reader friendly. The book is chock full of sidebars, illustrations, photos, and maps, and a timeline.
This would be a good starter book for someone new to the Bible or even a seeker unfamiliar with Scripture. —Neil Bartlett
Random book winners this week
- Brenda Reynolds
- Kerry Parker
I give away free books each week to randomly selected subscribers to my free blog and quarterly newsletter.
Brenda and Kerry are random this week.
Bible Gateway Blogger