The Gospel of John is my favorite Gospel. However, I think the Gospel of Matthew is the most important Gospel to read to learn about Jesus. If you understand the Gospel of Matthew, you will then understand the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John. It’s within Matthew that the prophecies that spoke of the Messiah are shown to be fulfilled. Matthew proves that Jesus is the Christ to the Jews and to us. As I started to read through Matthew today, some thoughts came to me that I’d like to share with you.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

If you’re like me, you might start to go a little numb when you start reading a list of names and numbers in the Bible. You might even think about what Paul wrote to Timothy and wonder if it’s true. How can a list of names be useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, or training in righteousness? If you don’t know the significance of the names or the numbers being listed, then the Scripture isn’t probably going to be very useful to you. However, that’s not on the Scripture but on us.

For example, at the beginning of Matthew, the genealogy of Jesus is listed. If you’re observant, you might notice amongst all the men listed are five women; Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba), and Mary.

One of the ironies of life is how we have a tendency to live in extremes. Often, we’ll allow ourselves to be defined by our pride or our failures and shortcomings. While pride is typically an inward issue we have to deal with, the people around us can sometimes be relied upon to remind us of our failures and shortcomings. Each of these five women had something that they could have been ashamed of in their lives. Indeed, there’s not one of them who wouldn’t have been ostracized by other Jews for their failures or shortcomings.

Tamar wasn’t a Jew but a Canaanite woman whose first two husbands, Er and Onan, died before she could bear them any children. Er was found to be wicked in the Lord’s sight so he was put to death (Genesis 38:7). Because Er had been Onan’s brother and hadn’t any children by Tamar, it was his duty to marry Tamar and give her children to be raised up as Er’s. However, Onan didn’t want to fulfill his duty to his brother Er so the Lord put him to death as well (Genesis 38:10).

Er’s and Onan’s father was Judah. After Er and Onan died, Judah didn’t want to give his third son to Tamar. Judah didn’t think that his sons died through any fault of their own but thought the problem lay in Tamar, “For he thought, ‘He may die too, just like his brothers'” (Genesis 38:11 NIV). Because Judah’s youngest son, Shelah, wasn’t old enough to marry, Judah told Tamar to wait until he had grown up before marrying her. However, Judah had no intention of marrying his son to Tamar.

After Judah’s wife had died, and it was obvious to Tamar that Judah wasn’t going to give her Shelah in marriage, she disguised herself as a shrine prostitute, slept with Judah, and became pregnant. When Judah heard that his daughter-in-law was pregnant and guilty of prostitution, he said she should be put to death. Tamar showed Judah that he was the father. He realized Tamar had only done what she had done because he hadn’t given her his son in marriage so, he declared that she was more righteous than he and left her alone (Genesis 38:14,18,24,26). Although Tamar and Judah sinned by having sexual relations together, the Lord used the situation to give birth to Perez, who is also in the line of Jesus.

Before the Israelites attacked the city of Jericho, they sent two spies into the city. When these men were in danger of being captured, it was Rahab, a prostitute, who gave them shelter. Rahab and her family were spared, and later she married Salmon, and they had Boaz. Boaz ended up marrying a Moabite named Ruth. Both Rahab and Ruth were outsiders who might not have felt welcomed by the Israelites around them, and yet they too, are in the line of Jesus.

When King David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, who would have thought anything good could have come from the murder of Uriah and adultery? By the grace of God, Solomon was born. They too, are in the line of Jesus.

Last but not least, is Mary. Can you imagine being Mary, a virgin, and being pregnant? Who would believe that something like that could happen? Today, there’s still a lot of stigmatism around single mothers. They would have wanted to stone her in those days. Even her husband, Joseph, was going to divorce her quietly and move on.

When you consider all of the people in the genealogy of Jesus and in your own genealogy there’s a lot of mess tied up with each person. None of us are without sin, and we all have done things we’re not proud of. However, by the grace of God, we can go beyond our past and into a bright future with God.

Therefore, when we’re reading a list of names in the Bible we ought to remember that behind each name is a person who lived, struggled, and died. They had their hopes and dreams just like you and me. They had good days and bad days. Some like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary were thrust into difficult circumstances. God brought them through, and look what He did. He brought forth Jesus from all of that!

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.