The scandal among us – Thoughts on Matthew 1

Broken HearIt reads like a boring genealogy, a long list of begats. Yet in the opening verses of his Gospel, Matthew is presenting the fact that there is scandal in the line of the Messiah.

I find it interesting that Matthew not only mentions four women in the genealogy (strange in a male dominated culture), he mentions four women with sordid backgrounds. Two were gentiles. One was a prostitute. One posed as a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law. One seduced or was seduced by the King while she was married to another. Four scandalous women were used by God to continue the line from Abraham to Joseph, Jesus’ legal father.

In this genealogy, God, through the pen of Matthew, is reminding us that he takes broken people and uses them to accomplish his will. This is consistent with the character of God as revealed in Jesus.

The story of the woman at the well in John 4 is another illustration. Jesus, knowing the woman’s turmoil and need for inner peace, turns the conversation away from physical thirst to spiritual hunger. He also identifies himself as the means of bringing that inner peace. He does not condemn her for her futile attempts at satisfying the hunger through illicit sexual encounters. Instead, he offers her something so much better. Jesus offers himself as the satisfaction for her longing.

How does this apply to us in 2012?

With the rejection of the Biblical moral code, many in society have accepted and practiced behaviors which are contrary to God’s design. As a result, they come to the church (if they come at all) broken and in need of love and acceptance. Yet often the organization that is supposed to be the Body of Christ fails to accept people where they are. We, who claim to speak for Jesus, sometimes act in ways that Jesus would not approve.

God ordained these women to be in the line of the Messiah as a reminder to us that He uses unlikely people to accomplish his will. He uses people like us. We were all outsiders looking in at some point in our lives. We are all in need of the infinite love and grace of God in the person of Jesus Christ.  We all come to Jesus broken. We are not valued because of our heritage or accomplishments but because we are loved by God and accepted by Him.

We, the church, the gathering of the redeemed, have sometimes done a poor job of accepting the broken when they come to us for help. We radiate disapproval so that the “sinners” retreat. Or sometimes we try to quickly patch them up so that they appear unbroken. We persist in trying to maintain the illusion that we have it all together by attempting to force others into the same pretense.

Can we stop the pretense? Can we allow people to experience freedom instead of bondage? Can we trust God to bring people out of their brokenness without pretending that it doesn’t exist? Can we deal with the fact that we are all hypocrites in that we don’t fully live out what we believe?

The answer is yes, we can do this. God will empower us to do this if we allow Him to subdue our pride. It is pride that stands in the way of such acceptance.