One of the most powerful things about the Christmas story is that it reminds us that God isn’t fair.
For years I overlooked the lineage of Jesus. In haste to meet the baby in the manger, I skipped over the long list of too-difficult-to-pronouce names and jumped right to the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But in doing so, I missed an integral part of the story.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’s genealogy, includes an incredible description that, I have never noticed.
In Matthew 1:6 when describing King David’s son, Solomon, Matthew writes, “David, the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.”
A Perfect Gift, Born Out of Imperfection
Uriah was a soldier in the Israelite army under King David and he was married to a beautiful woman named Bathsheba. One day, King David saw Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop next to his palace. He was so consumed with passion that he decided to take her for himself. Instead of honoring Uriah as a solider in David’s own army, David had an affair with Bathsheba had Uriah promoted to the front lines of battle so that he would be killed.
This is arguably David’s lowest point.
So, when describing the lineage of Jesus, why did Matthew mention Bathsheba? Furthermore, why did he not call her by name?
Here’s why the phrasing is so powerful and important.
Matthew purposefully wants the reader to remember the story. In setting up the birth of Jesus he wants to reader to remember that adultery and murder are a part of the narrative—they are part of the lineage of the Messiah.
It’s as if God is saying, “I remember the affair. I remember the murder.”
But He’s also saying, “I’m going to use you anyway.”
An Unexpected Gift
So what does this story teach us?
Religious culture is predicated on obedience, good behavior and polished piety. The kingdom of God is predicated on affection, grace and the hearts of men. The first causes shame, the latter brings freedom.
Think about this, what modern-day church would hire an adulterer and murderer as their next pastor?
I dare say, none.
But Matthew blatantly informs us that Jesus’s ancestry—his lineage—was full of adulterers, prostitutes and underdogs. The very people we ostracize and ridicule are the very people that God’s story is built upon.
The point is, God uses the unusable and loves the unlovable.
That’s may seem offensive. Some may say that’s unfair. But Christmas isn’t about fairness. Christmas is proof that God isn’t fair—He’s good.
Shame can build an invisible wall that is impossible to scale. It causes us to believe that we’re incapable of doing God’s work because we’re not perfect. As a result, we live imprisoned by the guilt of the past.
The lineage of Jesus is such an essential part of the Christmas story because God says, “I know, and I love you anyway. I know, and I’m going to use you anyway.”
This is the freedom that we have in Christ, the freedom that we’re called to live in.
Remember this Christmas that in Christ, we have received an unexpected gift from an imperfect lineage. By that very declaration, God’s saying that you don’t have to clean yourself up and you don’t have to dust yourself off—you don’t even have to cover up your past.
God already knows. And He doesn’t care.
God isn’t fair. He’s good.
Matt Ham is an accomplished speaker and the cofounder of YouPrint, a faith and personal development organization that helps people bridge the gaps between Sundays.
For more, visit www.youprint.life