God’s choices make him uncomfortably different and entirely unexpected.
The choice of his followers is unusual and unexpected. Matthew the tax collector, defector from Israel and loyalist to the Roman government, is a case in point. How can a Roman sympathizer be a follower of Jesus?
Not only is Matthew a Roman sympathizer, making a living by collecting taxes for the occupying Romans, he is also one of four people to record the life of Jesus.
His gospel begins by defending the right of Jesus to be the king of the Jews. His genealogy of Jesus goes all the way back to Abraham, the father of the Jews, and intersects with King David.
Matthew’s genealogy includes shady characters.
Judah, one of the men in the genealogy, is unexpected. Judah is the brother of one of the Old Testament’s most famous characters, Joseph. We have more personal information about Joseph than any other character in the Old Testament. (Genesis 37 to 50) His faith, discipline, positive attitude, character, and generosity are above reproach.
If Joseph is one of the 12 sons of Jacob, why isn’t there a tribe called Joseph. You might think it’s just an oversight. But, it isn’t. Joseph is also excluded from the bloodline of Jesus. But guess who made it in?
Judah, the brother of Joseph, made it into the bloodline of Jesus. Judah, the one who conspired with his brothers to kill Joseph and influenced his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, made it in.
Judah, the influencer, led his brothers to fabricate a story that broke their mom and dad’s heart. “An animal killed Joseph.” The body was destroyed. All that remains is a blood soaked coat. Mom and dad couldn’t even give Joseph a proper burial. But there’s more about Judah.
Later, Judah had sex with is widowed daughter-in-law, Tamar. He thought she was a temple prostitute. Read it in Genesis 38. When he finds out that Tamar is pregnant, he goes ballistic and sentences her to burn at the stake. Only after Tamar proves that Judah is the father of her unborn children does Judah relent.
Judah is a footnote in the story of noble Joseph. He’s unethical, hateful, self-serving, immoral, vindictive, and deceptive. But, Judah is in the bloodline of Jesus.
There is not tribe of Joseph. Jesus didn’t come through noble Joseph. He came through ignoble Judah.
God is unexpected, even disappointing. He makes “bad” choices. It’s not fair that Judah is included and Joseph is excluded.
God chose to work through Judah just like he chooses to work through people like you and me.
If there’s hope for Judah and Matthew, there’s hope for you and me.