Most families have a few names they would prefer be left out of the family tree. You know the ones--the relatives who aren't really talked about without a knowing look and a slight disapproving shake of the head. When you talk about your ancestors, the people who have made your family what it is, these are the people you leave out of the story--the scoundrels, the trouble makers, the ones people aren't proud of.
There's a family tree in Matthew that doesn't look like we would expect it to. It's easy to skip over all the "begat"s in the Scriptures, but they're in there for a reason. In this case, the genealogy of Yeshua shows us a lot about God.
Lots of the names are ones you would expect in the lineage of the Jewish Messiah: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David. Some of them, though, are the names of people most of us would leave out when telling about our ancestors.
- Tamar dressed up as a prostitute to trick her father-in-law into getting her pregnant
- Rahab was an actual prostitute in Jericho. She doesn't just show up here in Matthew, though. She is also mentioned in Hebrews in the "Faith Hall of Fame" for the faith she showed when she hid the spies, an action that saved her family when Jericho fell.
- Ruth was a Moabite, the people group that started out of the incest between Lot and his oldest daughter. She was from a pagan family and was a widow in a strange land.
- Solomon was a great king of Israel, but he had some messy ancestry of his own. He was the son of David and Bathsheba. He was their second son; their first had been born out of a one night stand between the king and the beautiful woman he had decided he wanted, despite the fact that she was already married. David had Bathsheba's husband killed when his plan to cover up the pregnancy didn't work, and their first son died.
- Amon of Judah was a king who was most remembered for his idolatry, a man who "did evil in the eyes of the Lord" and was assassinated after just 2 years on the throne. He was replaced by his 8-year-old son.
- Jeconiah was the king who lost the kingdom of Israel to Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzer, which led to Israel's captivity.
So often, we think that God only uses the perfect. We focus on the stories of the mighty men in the Bible, looking at the amazing feats they accomplished, the great faith they demonstrated. I think this lineage is here to remind us of something different--God uses people and situations we as humans think are worthless and impossible. He works through even our worst experiences to further His kingdom. He works through the repentant prostitute or the humbled king. He works through those seen as untouchable or those held in high esteem. His hand is over everything, and what the world means for evil He can change for good.