When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Mark 8:34 NKJVLast week I introduced you to the four women we find listed in the genealogy of Jesus given to us in the first chapter of Matthew. I also suggested that there must be a very good reason for this to happen as women were never mentioned in a Jewish genealogy in those days. We also found that while you might be able to understand mentioning a woman of desirable character, the four women mentioned all had issues that a Jew would find highly objectionable. As we know that Matthew was written specifically to the Jews as a defense of Jesus of Nazareth being the prophesied Messiah, we have to wonder what exactly God intended when He told Matthew to include these women.
Thinking about this question may be one of those times where we find that there are many different reasons we can come up with which make perfect sense as to what God was trying to tell us. What I want to do today is to simply give you a few that I have come up with, and then allow you to take the time on your own to think and consider the possibility that there are others which make just as good of sense as mine. That said, as I read these names and wondered what the reaction by a Jew of that day would be, and what arguments he might put forth objecting to Jesus as the Messiah, I thought of this verse from Paul’s letter to the Galatians.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 NKJV
Now the reason this verse came to mind was that when I tried to look at these four women through the eyes of Jew of that day, the objections I saw were that first of all they were women, several obviously guilty of gross sin, and lastly not all were Jews. Yet it seems these three arguments were exactly the ones Paul chooses to attack in the passage from Galatians. So let’s look at these three “problems” which might have concerned the Jews of that day.Male and female
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 NKJVI think most of us understand how women were treated at this particular time in history, especially in the culture of the Middle East. Women were simply a possession, with no rights to speak of and no voice to be heard. Yet if you look closely at this passage from Genesis, it certainly seems as if God is telling us that we are all made in His image and in His eyes equally deserving of His love and grace. Where a Jew would object to giving any sort of status to a woman, by listing these four women by name in a genealogy God says they are just as important in His eyes as anyone else.
Jew and GentileFor there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. Romans 10:12 NKJV
The animosity that existed between the Jews and the Gentiles was as old as the history of the Jewish nation itself. Yet as time went by, it seems that although the Jews were in fact the “chosen” people, they seemed to have forgotten exactly why they were chosen. You see, God chose the nation of Israel as a means to reveal Himself to the unbelieving world around them, and as time went by the people of Israel seemed to be forgetting that and instead began to look for a Messiah who would come to save the nation of Israel. By listing these women who were not Jews, I think God might have been reminding them that He sent His Son to die for all.Slave or free.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. John 8:32-34 NKJVIf you were to live in that day, and understand the class distinctions that were important to Jews, right after the difference between men and women would come the difference between servants and free. Maybe this goes back all the way to being slaves in Egypt as well as the captivity in Babylon, but it the difference between slave and free was important to a Jew. When the objection would be made that these women listed in the genealogy were sinners, it seems to me the point God was making is that we are all sinners; and not just sinners but slaves to sin needing to be set free by the price paid by the death and resurrection of His Son.
As I said, you might discover other reasons you feel God wanted Mathew to include these four women in his genealogy, but I think the bottom line is that God wanted to get the attention of the Jews who would read this, and break down the bias that existed in their hearts and minds which would interfere with their acceptance as Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah they were looking for. Jesus died for all, and “whoever” desires to accept the salvation He offers may do so.Keep watching.