We Christians rightfully emphasize Jesus’ origins in the miraculous virgin birth. But there is more to the story of where Jesus came from beyond Mary. In fact, Matthew and Luke give detailed genealogies, detailing Jesus’ lineage. Matthew’s account has always fascinated me. He divides it up in three sets of 14 generations and decides to trace it to Joseph instead of Mary. What’s even more interesting is that Matthew includes four women besides Mary.
He mentions Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah). The really interesting thing is that the women were foreigners, had children out of major scandals, and were faithful to God. Matthew seems to include them to show that the fulfilment of the scriptures includes people who received grace for their faithfulness. Matthew also doesn’t sanitize the lineage of Jesus. He includes people, men and women, who were far from perfect.
Matthew groups the generations this way: “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:17 ESV). In grouping the genealogies in groups of fourteen (7 indicates perfection/completion of something), he is showing that Jesus is the completion and perfection of God’s covenant. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises that a messiah would come through David.
As we reflect on the birth of Christ, we can take a deeper look at how God includes unlikely people into His perfect plan of salvation.