Substituting for Pastor Jeremiah today is guest blogger Scot M. Have you ever read a phone book for fun? Me neither. (If you don’t know what a phone book is, ask someone your parents’ age.) Matthew 1:1-17 is a long list of largely unfamiliar names (skipping some generations, which was common). Is there a way to read this passage that can actually get us excited? Those named here are real people, playing their part in God’s unfolding plan to redeem the world (including you!), through Jesus. I can imagine early Jewish Christians, as they read or heard this list, reliving the long wait of their ancestors, saying eagerly to themselves with each name, “Closer. Closer to the Savior’s birth. Closer.” One thing sets Matthew’s genealogy apart from all others in Scripture: his mention of 5 women, each connected to some sexual scandal. For Tamar’s (v. 3) complicated story, read Genesis 38 and look up “levirate law (or marriage)” online or in a Bible dictionary. Rahab (v. 5) was a prostitute (Joshua 2, 6). Ruth (v. 5) while wonderfully devoted (See the book of Ruth), was from Moab, a nation birthed from father-daughter incest (Genesis 19). Bathsheba (v. 6), not mentioned by name, is King Solomon’s mother and the former wife of Uriah. 2 Samuel 11-12 recounts King David’s adulterous relationship with her. Mary (v. 16), while guiltless, became pregnant with Jesus before marrying Joseph. God can bring eternal triumph and joy through misunderstood circumstances, like Mary’s pregnancy, and even through the most sordid of our or others’ sins.