Squeezed between a man and a woman on a tight EasyJet flight back to Geneva, I opened my little blue Bible to Matthew 1. It was the first Sunday of Advent, and I was trying to find some way of connecting with The Story and think about hope.
Lineages don’t usually make me cry. I skip over those sections most of the time, but the tears flowed freely after a few verses.
The book of the geneology of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
David who killed a man so that he could have another wife. Abraham who gave his wife to the Egyptians because he was a coward, who slept with his wife’s servant and fathered an illegitimate son.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar…
Judah slept with his daughter-in-law, Tamar, who was pretending to be a temple prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law so that she could bear a child, continue the family line and have a legitimate place in society as a widow with children.
Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
Rahab the prostitute and from Jericho, a gentile. Ruth an outsider to the Jewish tradition, another gentile.
David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.
He will not let us forget that David stole another man’s wife.
There are so many more – Uzziah who began as a favoured king to end with leprosy because of his pride against God. Manasseh who sacrificed his sons in the fires of other gods. But it’s from these people that he chose to come. This is the son of God’s family tree with his broken and belligerent mothers and fathers.
The tall, balding man next to me tried to see if I was crying without openly staring. Could I help myself? Any of us given a free pass from our past would take it. The Baby offers something better. He came from brokenness and rebellion, and he comes to us in our brokenness and rebellion.
He gives himself. Redemption for the mistakes. His blood for our guilt. Hope for our sin.