Summary: A sermon on the inclusiveness of God in Christ.
“An Outsider from the Beginning”
by: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN www.eastridgeumc.com
How many of you have ever thought to yourself, “I am not good enough to play a part in God’s unfolding history.”
“I have led too sinful of a life.”
“I just don’t have the right education.”
“My family background is just too messed up.”
“I don’t have the right kind of job, nor have I lived the kind of life through which God can use me to bring others to Christ.”?
“Who am I to invite others to church?”
“Who am I to tell people about Jesus?”
And, “Does God even accept me, warts, failings and all?”
How many of us have thought to ourselves, “I am just not good enough to be a part of this!?”
God’s answer to our self-doubts and questions can be found in the first paragraph of the first book in the New Testament.
The average person who thinks, “Maybe I’ll read the New Testament” is probably puzzled to find, on the very first page, a long list of names he or she has never heard of.
But this list isn’t a waste of time.
For in reading this list and studying the persons named in this list—we may find that the term “inclusive” is not just a modern politically correct buzzword; it is a deep message to you and to me about Who God is and what God is about.
Here we have Jesus’ genealogy, as written in Matthew.
But it’s a funky genealogy for the King of the Jews, the Messiah, the Chosen One of God!!!
For there are “outsiders” included in Jesus’ family line.
There are ordinary people and extraordinary people.
Also listed are persons of questionable character…
…persons who lived somewhat scandalous lives…
…and persons who no good Jew of the 1st Century would ever admit to having in their bloodline—not if they wanted to be considered pure, respectable and part of the “in” crowd.
In Jesus’ day, genealogies were the most natural way to begin the story of a person’s life.
So, we should not be surprised that Matthew’s Gospel begins with a genealogy.
But we should be surprised by some of the names included here.
The most amazing thing in Jesus’ genealogy is the names of the women who appear in it!
For one thing, it wasn’t normal to list women in your family tree.
But in Jesus’ genealogy five women are named:
Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, “the wife of Uriah” who is Bathsheba, and Mary.
And when we look at who these women were, and at what they did, the situation becomes even more spectacular.
Tamar was considered a seducer and an adulteress.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Another woman in Jesus’ bloodline is Ruth.
Ruth was not a Jew.
She was a Gentile from Moab, and Moabites were especially excluded from the Israelite community.
They were major outcastes.
They were an alien and hated people.