Matthew 1:3,5,6,18-19

Sermon preached on December 13, 2009 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When I was young my dad started researching our family line. He was quite successful and traced his family line all the way back to a village in France and a Leopold Veinot, who left his village there in the 1740's and took a ship to Nova Scotia. But there was one anomaly in the records around the mid 1800's and he couldn't figure it out. He made a trip to the provincial capital, Halifax and did some research at the Nova Scotia Archives there. I was with him on that particular trip and we were staying with my great aunt. He asked her about the problems he was having making one particular connection and he told me afterwards that she acted really funny when he asked her and just told him that she didn't know. But he got the impression that there was something she knew that she wasn't telling him. What it was was that she knew a family secret that she didn't want him to know. So he had to do quite a bit more work before he found out the solution to the problem. Apparently, my great aunt's grandmother, who would have been my great, great, grandmother, got pregnant out of wedlock. She never did marry the father. We don't even know who he was—there is no record of him. When my great, great grandmother learned she was pregnant, she moved in with her parents and her parents raised the boy that was born as if he were their own. He was given the last name, "Veinott" because that was his mother's name, but technically he should have had another last name. So that was the family secret that my great aunt was trying to hide. There was a bit of shame in our family history.

She wasn't entirely proud of our family history like some of the people in our country who like to trace their ancestry to the people who came over on the Mayflower. Those are people who are exceedingly proud of their ancestors. They're not like Mark Twain who wrote a short story about his family tree. It was a fake autobiography. In it there was a picture of his family tree—it was a gallows. Mark Twain was poking fun of people who brag about their family tree.

One of the surprising things about Matthew 1 is that the birth of Jesus, the pure and holy One who came into the world to save sinners—is surrounded by shame.

We see this in the lineage of Jesus.

It's interesting that the lineage of Jesus has some very embarrassing incidents in it. One of the worst was had to do with Jacob's son, Judah. In verse 3 we are given part of Jesus' ancestry.

"Judah the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar,"

You remember the story of Judah and Tamar. Genesis 38 tells us how Judah got a wife for his son Er. His wife's name was Tamar. But Er was wicked in the Lord's sight and God put him to death. Judah told Onan to take Tamar and produce offspring for his brother. But Onan did a wicked thing and the Lord put him to death too. Judah then promised to give his third son Shelah to Tamar when he grew up. But Judah thought that that there was sort of curse on Tamar and he delayed in giving Shelah to her. So Tamar disguised herself and pretended to be a prostitute. Judah, not knowing who she was, hired her and slept with her. When he found out that she was pregnant, he was going to have her burned to death, but she showed him his staff and seal, and cord, which he had left with her as a pledge and he realized that he was the father. The child that was born was Perez, who was himself an ancestor of Christ.

Can you imagine? Why would God allow something like that in the lineage of Christ, the Messiah? John Calvin writes,

"This was the beginning of that self-emptying of which Paul speaks (Phil. 2.7)."

Philippians 2:6–7 says of Jesus,

" Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness."

Calvin continues,

"The Son of God might have kept His lineage free and pure of any crime or mark of shame, but as He came into the world to became a worm, and no man, a reproach of men and despised of the people (Philistines. 22.7), at last to undergo that accursed death of the cross, He did not refuse either this outrage in His own descent—one born from incestuous union, to be counted among His ancestors."

Part of Christ's self-emptying was being associated with our sins. We see this even in His lineage.

But there's more. In verse 5 of Matthew 1 we read,

"Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,"

You'll remember Rahab. When the Israelites came up out of Egypt and stood at the gates of the Promised Land, Jericho was the first major city that stood in their way. Before they entered the land Joshua sent two spies into the city to reconnoiter it. They were found out and almost captured. The reason they were able to escape was because a woman of the city, Rahab, a prostitute, hid them. She saved the spies and was spared when the city of Jericho was destroyed. She married one of the Israelites, Salmon, and they had a son, Boaz, who married Ruth. Rahab, the prostitute, was an ancestor of Christ. Amazing.

Ruth is also mentioned in Matthew 1:5. She was a Moabite. Deuteronomy 23:3 says about the Moabites.

"No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants
may enter the assembly of the LORD,
even down to the tenth generation."

The Moabites tried to hire Balaam to curse Israel as they were coming up from Egypt. Because of that the Moabites were excluded from the assembly of the Lord. Perhaps that's part of the reason Naomi tried to convince both Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab—because she knew they would not be welcome in Israel. But Ruth went back to Israel with her. Ruth not only entered into the assembly of the Lord, she was the great grandmother of David, king of Israel. She was included in the lineage of Jesus. She was a hero of the faith.

In His birth, Jesus showed that He was not ashamed to be associated with some of the worst sins that people can commit. In His lineage, Jesus was associated with incest, prostitution—and foreign blood.

This means that all sinners should go to Jesus for salvation and know that He will accept them. Their sins do not disqualify them from the hope of salvation. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15–16,

"Here is a trustworthy saying
that deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
But for that very reason
I was shown mercy so that in me,
the worst of sinners,
Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience
as an example for those who would believe on him
and receive eternal life."

Ruth, the descendant of those who wanted the Israelites cursed, she was included in the assembly of the Lord.

People's sins will sometimes convince people that they're too bad for Christ, that they don't belong in the church. In his biography of Martin Lloyd-Jones, Iain Murray tells the story of William Thomas. He was a terrible person. Most people tried to avoid him because of his low moral standards, filthy language and violent behavior. One day he was drunk in a tavern and overheard two men at the next table talking about what a preacher had said. The preacher was Lloyd-Jones and one of them said, (Iain Murray, Lloyd-Jones, Vol. 1 p. 243.)

"I was there last Sunday and that preacher said that nobody was hopeless—he said there was hope for everybody."

William Thomas was shocked. He thought there was hope for him. Many years before, as a young man in a tavern argument, he had called Jesus Christ a very bad name. He thought he was a Moabite, forever excluded from the assembly of the Lord. Yet he went to hear Lloyd-Jones and he was converted. I don't know what Lloyd-Jones preached on that day—but any topic like the story of Ruth, that illustrated the truth of Jesus' words in John 6:37, would have driven the point home. Jesus said,

"All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me
I will never drive away."

Who is the gospel of Jesus Christ for? It's for sinners. Adulterers and murderers and people who commit great sins often believe that they're excluded from the gospel of Jesus Christ. They're so disappointed in themselves that they think that they could never be accepted by Jesus.

But that is not so. Jesus' genealogy also includes a reference to David. It says, (Matthew 1:6)

"and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been Uriah's wife,"

Solomon's mother was Bathsheba. Both she and David were adulterers. David also was a murderer. He had Uriah killed in an effort to hide Bathsheba's sin.

Incest, prostitution, a foreigner, whose ancestors cursed the Israelites, a murderer and an adulterer—they are all in the lineage of Jesus. In His birth Jesus was not ashamed to be associated with such sinners and such sin. Hebrews 2:11 says,

"Both the one who makes men holy
and those who are made holy
are of the same family.
So Jesus is not ashamed
to call them brothers."

Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers. Jesus was not ashamed to be associated with our sin.

Notice as well that

Jesus' birth came about in the midst of apparent shame.

In the eyes of the world Mary was in a position of shame. She as pregnant out of wedlock. She knew that she was innocent. She knew that she had done nothing wrong. The angel had told her the whole situation beforehand. She knew that she was highly favored by the Lord. (Luke 1:28) Nevertheless, she was also put in a position of shame.

Even Joseph thought badly of Mary. When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant he assumed that she had been unfaithful and had slept with someone. He was ashamed of Mary and embarrassed by her pregnancy. He was a righteous man and could not put up with the deception and sin of Mary. All of his plans for the future were gone. He had planned on marrying Mary and raising a family with her—but now those plans were gone. He was going to call off his marriage. He decided to divorce her quietly.

Joseph wasn't told Mary's miraculous conception before it happened. Mary had that privilege. But the angel didn't appear to Joseph and tell him about Mary's innocence until well after he learned that Mary was pregnant. God had him find out about Mary's pregnancy and reflect on it before sending an angel to him. Why was that? If Joseph had been told beforehand, like Mary was, it would have saved Mary considerable embarrassment. Joseph would not have assumed that she was unfaithful. It would have been a lot easier on Mary and on Joseph.

But God didn't tell Joseph beforehand. In His birth Jesus was associated with pregnancy out of wedlock.

Or think of Mary's parents. We're not told what Mary's parents thought when they learned of their pregnancy. But I'm sure they were shocked and disappointed. Mary hadn't told Joseph about the angel appearing to her and telling her about her miraculous conception. Perhaps she didn't tell her parents either. It seems likely that for a time they were ashamed of her.

In any event, to hide her pregnancy Mary fled to her relative Elizabeth and stayed with her in the hill country of Judea. Mary couldn't be around her home and friends because whoever found out would have thought very badly of her.

The thrust of all this is that the birth of Jesus came about in the midst of apparent shame. God had Jesus' birth associated with apparent shame. Mary was thought, by some, to be a great sinner. She was with child out of wedlock.

The great lesson here is that

Christ is not ashamed to be associated with the most embarrassing of our sins.

What a friend of sinners Jesus is! In his birth He was associated with pregnancy outside of marriage. Yet we don't just see it in His birth, but in many other instances during His ministry. Isn't in amazing that Jesus was willing to be associated with our sins—that He ate and drank with sinners?

You'll remember the story of Jesus' being invited to Simon the Pharisee's house? In Luke 7:36–39 we are told how when Jesus was at Simon's house,

"When a woman
who had lived a sinful life in that town
learned that Jesus was eating
at the Pharisee's house,
she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,
and as she stood behind him
at his feet weeping,
she began to wet his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee
who had invited him saw this,
he said to himself,
'If this man were a prophet,
he would know who is touching him
and what kind of woman she is
—that she is a sinner.'"

Simon looked down on Jesus for allowing this woman to be close to Him. Simon was ashamed of her. But not so Jesus. Jesus commended her.

It was that way on the cross too. Remember what Isaiah 53:12 predicted about Jesus and His death? It said,

"because he poured out
his life unto death,
and was numbered
with the transgressors."

He was crucified between two criminals. He was associated with the scum of the earth.

Think of the shame of the cross. When we see a picture of Jesus on the cross, He's always partially clothed. But that's not how it was. Jesus took our sin and shame upon Himself. He was crucified naked. He was humiliated on the cross. He willingly did that all that for you. Your shame, your humiliation—Jesus took it on Himself and suffered for it.

There are great lessons here for us.

First, regarding pride.

For Christians, this means that you should not be ashamed to be associated with people who have sinned greatly.

We're all sinners. We're all in the same boat. It's only grace that makes you different that others. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:7

"For who makes you different
from anyone else?
What do you have
that you did not receive?
And if you did receive it,
why do you boast as though you did not?"

If you've been kept from horrible sins—it's not because of something in you, or because of your own strength—it's all of grace.

So don't be ashamed to associate with people who have sinned greatly. Jesus wasn't.

We are to love sinners. We are to do our best to help them. We are to accept them and seek to do everything in our power to help them overcome their sins.

For those of you who are not Christians, this means that

you need to put away your pride and go to Jesus for salvation.

Many people today are ashamed of Jesus. They won't go to Him because Jesus' way of salvation seems to be beneath them. They don't think that they're that bad. They want some other way to be saved rather than through the shame and humiliation of the cross. They're like Naaman the Syrian. He had leprosy and when he went to Elisha's house to be healed, he was disappointed that Elisha didn't even come out to greet him. Instead Elisha sent a messenger who told him to go and wash seven times in the Jordan and then he would be healed. Naaman didn't like that. He went away angry and said, (2 Kings 5:11–12)

"I thought that he would surely
come out to me and stand
and call on the name of the Lord his God,
wave his hand over the spot
and cure me of my leprosy.
Are not Abana and Pharpar,
the rivers of Damascus,
better than any of the waters of Israel?
Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?"

Then he went off in a rage.

How wonderful that Naaman's servants went to him and said,

"My father, if the prophet
had told you to do some great thing,
would you not have done it?
How much more, then,
when he tells you,
'Wash and be cleansed'!"

So Naaman went and did what Elisha said and was healed.

You who are not Christians need to do that. You need to let go of your pride and go to Jesus and ask Him to save you.

The second lesson here for Christians is that

we shouldn't be too proud to walk in a path of shame for Jesus.

As Jesus said in Matthew 10:24,

"A student is not above his teacher,
nor a servant above his master."

If Jesus walked the path of shame for you—should you be unwilling to walk it for Him?

Jesus sometimes calls His servants to walk a path of shame. Joseph was called to be a slave to Potiphar. He was called to be shamed by being unjustly accused of attempted rape. He was shamed by being cast into a dungeon and having his feet put in shackles. (Psalm 105:18)

David was called to walk a path of shame. He had to flee from King Saul and be falsely accused of treason. He had to live like an outlaw. Remember what kind of people came to him? In 1 Samuel 22:2

"All those who were in distress
or in debt or discontented
gathered around him,
and he became their leader."

It wasn't the best people, the most noble people that came to David—a lot of them were scoundrels. For awhile David had to walk the path of shame.

It was the same with Moses. He rescued one of his people who was being mistreated by an Egyptian. He struck down the Egyptian and killed him. He did something good. Yet the next day when he saw a one of his own people mistreating another Hebrew, he rebuked him. But the Hebrew answered, (Exodus 2:14)

"Who made you ruler and judge over us?
Are you thinking of killing me
as you killed the Egyptian?"

Moses had to flee because Pharaoh also found out about it and tried to have him killed. For forty years Moses lived as a fugitive.

Paul the apostle went from being a respectable Pharisee to being considered an enemy of both the Jews and of Rome. He was flogged, jailed, and stoned for holding on to the name of Christ.

Sometimes Jesus calls His followers to a path of shame. If Jesus ever calls you to such a path—don't be afraid to embrace it.

Thirdly, for Christians,

you should rejoice in the fact that Jesus has taken our shame and humiliation.

Jesus has taken the shame and humiliation that was due to your sins—and He has paid for it. On the last day there will be no shame for you—but words of acceptance, of joy, of everlasting glory. On that Day Jesus will confess you before the heavenly host and say to you, (Matthew 25:34)

"Come, you who are blessed
by my Father;
take your inheritance,
the kingdom prepared for you
since the creation of the world."

Lastly, this passage shows us the truth of God's Word.

Many in the world today will tell you that the Gospel history is not true, that it was written by men to deceive you.

But, seriously, who would have made up this genealogy of Jesus? If someone were to make up a genealogy of a make believe messiah, they would have had him have an impeccable heritage.

Not so with the Jesus of the Holy Scriptures. He was the King of Glory, yes. But He was also the friend, the associate of sinners, even being associated with them in His birth.

Believe Him. Trust Him. Only He can save you.