Advent: Day Eleven

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”—Ruth 2:8-13

For Matthew’s audience, it was scandalous that, not only was Jesus laying claim to foreigners in theory, He was listing them right there in His family tree. And they were not just any foreigners!

Ruth was a Moabite woman, a widow, who steadfastly remained by her mother-in-law’s side after both of their husbands had died. Ruth followed Naomi from her own country of Moab to Naomi’s land, Judah. Now, Moabites were known for sacrificing children to the god Chemosh, so you can see how this particular inclusion to Jesus’ genealogy might be distressing for Matthew’s readers. Oh, the scandal!

But the real scandal is that Jesus would become as a foreigner, Himself. He would be abandoned by His family and friends, handed over to pagans, rejected by His nation, and crucified between two thieves outside of the city of Jerusalem.

Matthew begins his book with a list of foreigners in the genealogy of Christ, and ends it with a command to go out into all the nations of the world. Ruth had no way of knowing she would be the third Grandmother of Christmas, and that a child from her lineage would one day be cut off from His people so that she might be grafted in—so that WE might be grafted in. And so that we might offer that same grace to others.

Meditation: Sometimes, people feel they have never fit in, like Ruth did. Maybe you have never found your family, your tribe. Maybe every bridge to your family is in flames and you feel no one even wants you. That no one will ever give you a chance. Or maybe you’re the one refusing to give someone the chance to fit in. But Jesus became the ultimate foreigner so that every one of us can be brought into the family of God; not one of us could be counted as part of God’s family, except through Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for making me part of Your family through Your work on the cross. Forgive me for attempting to find a sense of belonging anywhere outside of You. Help me to fix my eyes on You, and to find my hope, joy, and peace in You alone.