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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Come Just as You Are

From the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David the son of Abraham...

"...Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar..." Matthew 1:3
"...Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab..." Matthew 1:5a
"...Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth..." Matthew 1:5b
"...David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife..." Matthew 1:6

Think genealogies are boring? Guess again. All kinds of gems in this one...

First of all, just the fact that women are mentioned at all is huge. In the Jewish culture, no one traced their bloodline through a female. It was a patriarchal society - all about who your daddy was. But then there is the fact that it was these women...women with a past...women with a skeleton or two in their closets. Let's open their doors...

Tamar's story is in Genesis 38. She was a widow and the daughter in law of Judah. He didn't want to marry her off to another son so he sent her home to her father, which was very shameful for a woman in that day. She ended up pretending to be a prostitute in order to trick her father in law into sleeping with her and getting her pregnant so he had to fulfill his obligation to her. Interesting...

Rahab's story is in Joshua 2. She was a prostitute who lived by the walls of Jericho. Well, we should all remember from Sunday School what happened to those walls, but because she saved the lives of the Jewish spies she was blessed and her life was spared.

Ruth gets a whole book all her own. She was a foreigner who initially probably worshipped other gods. Her husband was Jewish and married her against Jewish law. When he died, she decided to go back to Israel with her mother in law rather than staying in her own land. And she lived happily ever after...

Uriah's wife, the infamous Bathsheba, is immortalized in 2 Samuel 11. She committed adultery with the king,  which resulted in a pregnancy, which ended up getting her husband killed. She lost her baby as a result.

Do these sound like the kind of women that would be in the family line of the Messiah? Oh, yes! These are exactly the kind of people He came for. The kind of people He came to redeem. The kind of people He could hold up as examples and say, "See, I changed their lives. Why do you think I can't do it for you?"

Maybe you identify with one of these women. Maybe you don't. They are everywhere, though, the prostitutes, the adulterers, the foreigners. How do we treat them?

I just finished reading a book called "The Scent of Water" by Naomi Zacharias. Near the end of her book she writes:
"Interestingly enough,  Jesus reserved His strongest words not for the unwed mother, the woman in prostitution, the one who committed adultery, the one who is divorced, and all those who wear obvious and great scarlet letters of moral failure. And interestingly enough, Satan did not fall from heaven for any of those reasons; the fallen angel descended from the heights of heaven because of pride. Jesus saved His strongest words for the self-righteous, for it was the heart of an individual that earned His concern. The truth is that we are all flawed and in need of redemption, or the grandest rescue. And the miracle is that He brings beauty not in spite of but through our flaws."
Long ago, I was convicted that we cannot ask people to clean up their act and then come to church, come to Jesus. We need to go to them, accept them where they are, give them some hope, and let Jesus clean them up.

Are you looking down your nose at anybody? Think they are not good enough? Think they need to get it together before you want to get involved? Or are you reaching out to them right where they are? That's what Jesus did and it's what He calls us to do everyday.

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