Dear Hope Family,
The preparations are being made, and the curtain is about to rise for our celebration of the Advent season at Hope. And the Session, Ethan, and I are excited about the special series of sermons we will be preaching during the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Taking our cue from Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus in the first chapter of his Gospel, we will be focusing our attention on The Mothers of Jesus: Eve, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.
Matthew’s genealogy links the long line of God’s covenant people from Genesis to Malachi to the birth of Jesus described and celebrated in Matthew chapter 2. Featuring prominently in Matthew’s tracing of the bloodlines and family tree are the names of kings and heroes and leaders. Each name tells some story. Each name gestures towards the manifold interventions of God and his gracious rescues, timely provisions, and rich blessings in the life of his people. Within that long list of names, it is of little shock that the vast majority are names of men, since it was a patriarchal society. What is of particular interest and a decided break from the norms of the day are the names of women that punctuate, give color and contour, and tell a majestic story of grace within the overarching story of who Jesus is and what He has come to do.
These women – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary – are aberrations, exceptions, outliers, and status-quo disruptors. Usually in biblical genealogies, the names of men suffice, and women’s names are added if they somehow will ensure the purity of the line or enhance its dignity. Yet all the women showcased by Matthew do not fulfill either purpose. They are either racially or morally outside the norms of the day.
All sorts of questions rush to the surface: What is Matthew’s intention to feature this crew deliberately, emphatically, and strategically? What part of Advent and Christ’s Incarnation and ministry are they revealing and accentuating that we would be tempted to overlook or bypass? How do these women uniquely contribute to or tell the story of our need for Jesus and his gracious supply of relief, redemption, and rescue?
We will linger on their stories for the next weeks of Advent, and in doing so, I pray that God would reveal afresh and drive deeper into the details of our ordinary lives the depth and width of His mercy – mercy that overcomes brokenness, transcends bloodlines and real estate, makes room for those outside, and saves His people from their sins!
Grace and peace,