Ancestry of Redemption: Tamar (Mt 1:1-17; Gen 38:1-30)
CrossWay Community Church
December 6th, 2020
God is on a mission to save a people from their sin, even becoming a man, Jesus of Nazareth, in order to do so.
But not only does Jesus’ incarnation tell us this; his very ancestry even reflects it as well. In God’s grace, Jesus’ genealogy includes broken people and broken stories, just like those of the people he came to save. In Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17), we see that God deals with actual people, not ideal ones. He gets down in the dirt with us, with all of our mess. And this of course comes to a climax in Jesus himself, when God actually comes to live among us.
As theologian Stanely Hauerwas says, “Jesus did not belong to the nice clean world of middle-class respectability, but rather he belonged to a family of murders, cheats, cowards, adulterers and liars—he belonged to us and came to help us…”
This year for our Advent series at CrossWay Community Church, we will be looking at the scandalous portraits of the four women mentioned in Jesus’ ancestry (or genealogy) as found in Matthew 1 — Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and “the wife of Uriah” (i.e., Bathsheba). Tomorrow we will look specifically at the account of Tamar (Genesis 38).
Tamar represents the mistreated, the victim, the abused. Her first husband was so evil that God put him to death. Her brother-in-law failed to care for her, but instead utilized his position to sexually abuse her, until God put him to death as well. Her father-in-law, Judah, shirked his responsibilities to care for her, leaving her destitute and vulnerable. After it all, she was not only a widow (in fact, doubly so), but a barren one at that, and in a society where women did not have standing to care for themselves. She was “damaged goods,” probably even carrying a stigma within her community of being cursed by God.
But in Christ, we see God coming to rescue such people — people whose lives are not clean and tidy, people who have been mistreated, people whose lives feel irreparably ruined and broken. People who are “damaged goods” by the world’s standards. In the story of Tamar, we see God’s concern for Tamar, and concern for people like her.
In fact, in Christ God comes to know the very experience of being abused himself, thereby identifying himself with the abused. God becomes one who is “abused” for us—the quintessential victim: facing wrongdoing that is not deserved, having committed no wrongs himself. Abused by us—our sin being what put him on the cross.
And, not only so, but through Tamar’s presence in Christ’s genealogy, we see God even including and using her for his larger redemptive purposes. He redeems such situations.