“Well, they’re a real embarrassment. You know how there are just some names you want to be associated with and then others you just want to avoid like the plague? Well, I’ve got two of them at least in my blood line. And quite frankly, when someone asks me if I’m related to them I try to change the subject.”

And who do you think you are? What’s your claim to fame? It would be such an honour to meet you!

Have you ever reviewed the genealogy of Christ in Matthew Chapter 1? It starts a way back with Abraham.  Really, it’s no big surprise that Abraham is mentioned; after all, he was a prominent Bible character after his conversion. And the same can be said for Isaac and Jacob. Sure, they weren’t perfect; but it’s no big shock that they’re on the list.

But keep reading. Did you get to the part where Perez and Zerah are mentioned along with their mother Tamar? Tamar? Yikes! Why would anyone want to mention her? Didn’t she work the red-light district for a while? Didn’t she dabble in prostitution?

Although shocked, you keep reading and before you know it, you’re up against another one. It mentions Boaz, whose ‘mother’ was Rahab. Had I been responsible for maintaining the record, I think I would have just mentioned Boaz and left it there. What people don’t know won’t hurt them. Why hang out your dirty laundry? Why mention Rahab who earned her living and supported her family by being Jericho’s celebrity prostitute?

Yes, these names are in the genealogy of Christ. And there’s more than just two. Now you are reading about Ruth. Wasn’t she that pagan girl from Moab? And then, right on the heels of the pagan idolater, Bathsheba’s name is recorded. Wasn’t she the married woman who cheated on her husband? She definitely was!

It’s quite amazing that these four people, with such backgrounds, are deliberately mentioned in Matthew’s account of the legal and royal line of descent of Jesus as King. Not everyone was mentioned who could have been mentioned in the line of descent – but among others, these four were selected by the Holy Spirit to occupy a place in the official genealogical list of Christ as King.

Grace includes them. Others may want to cut them off; shun them; omit their names from lists of honour; ignore their existence; or treat them like scum or second-class people. But not the God of all grace. (1Peter 5:10)

God does not choose people based on their gender, their race or their lifestyle. He doesn’t favour one over another. They’re all favourites with God. We’re all favourites with Him. The grace of God reaches into the lives of sinners of every kind and transforms them. Sinners are turned into saints.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10 NASB

I have experienced the grace of God. He included me on His list. But what grace do I now show to others? Is there someone I am excluding, snubbing or failing to forgive? A critical measure of my own spirituality is the degree to which I am now able to show grace to others.

May Christmas be a warm and joyful occasion for you – despite the burdens and heartaches or perhaps loneliness you may keenly feel. More than anything else, may you experience the warmth of Christ in the depths of your heart.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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