HOW GOD LOOKS AT BLACK SHEEP
While I might think that the genealogy of Jesus in the first chapter of Matthew is boring, it was anything but that to the Jewish people. They saw Matthew’s opening as a legal and biological proof of Jesus’ authenticity.
Not every genealogy of Jesus is presented the same way. Luke’s version and Matthew’s version only share a few of the same names. They each highlight different parts of Jesus’ lineage. Luke, in his condensed list, provides the legal proof as he traces back to Joseph and the paternal fathers. Matthew, though, includes women in his listing. And, not women of respect like Rachel and Sarah but those whom society would call black sheep.
- Tamar, who had twins by her father-in-law.
- Rahab, a prostitute in Jericho who helped the Israelite spies.
- Ruth, an Arab who moved to Jewish land and became King David’s great grandmother.
- Bathsheba, the one who had the affair with King David.
Matthew hopes we’ll read between the lines to understand that God uses the most unlikely of people for kingdom endeavors. Matthew, himself, was a black sheep. A tax collector was known for being corrupt. They were not admired nor were they trusted. Throughout his ministry as Jesus’ disciple and apostle, he must have thanked Jesus over and over for mercy and a fresh start.
I can often believe that good people find Jesus more appealing while black sheep find Him repelling. That’s not always true on either account. Good people are often offended by the suggestion that they are sinners and need a Savior. Black sheep see their sinfulness but must surmount the challenge of trusting a love as pure as Jesus’ love. God is no respecter of persons. He does not bestow blessing because someone has a good pedigree, has lived a good life, and has a track record for making wise choices. Nor does he shun a black sheep because of his sinfulness. He goes where a man or woman admits they need Him. He is a Physician to the sick.
Perhaps you have lived a lifetime hiding from God’s face. You can’t dare trust His exclamations of love. Decades of discrimination, even in the church, have made you skittish. But Jesus is like no other man, no other priest, and no other king. The more broken your past, the more glorious your salvation. The darker your history, the brighter your future. If people have referred to you as someone ‘too needy’, consider this the best news as it just might qualify you to move to the front of the line where Jesus waits. The more any of us need Him, the more He likes it. Our future is ahead of us and in the annals of kingdom history, redeemed black sheep will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I’m thinking of those who shield their face from the Light today. Go looking for them, Jesus. You will find just the right words to heal their shame. Amen
Originally published Tuesday, 25 September 2018.