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This devotion is part of the Jesse Tree Advent devotion series. 

Scripture reading: Joshua 2:1-21

The family line of Jesus is full of unlikely people. Again and again, they’re more sinner than saint. They regularly forget, disobey, or betray God. They’re not honorable or composed or polished, and they’re neither trusting nor trustworthy.

Rahab is one of these unlikely people. And she’s more unlikely than most to be named in Jesus’s genealogy (Matthew 1:5) because she is an outsider on three counts: she’s (a) a woman, (b) a Canaanite, and (c) a prostitute.

In a genealogy that stretches from Abraham to Jesus, she’s one of just five women named. In a patrilineal genealogy—a record of fathers and sons—she makes the cut. Just as shocking, she makes the cut despite being a Gentile, a non-Israelite, someone decidedly outside the family tree. And, of course, she’s a prostitute.

And yet God finds her worthy of a place in his family. He invites her to play a role in the story of Israel claiming the land God has promised. And he grafts her into the family early enough that she gets to be one of Jesus’s great- great- great-grandmothers.

What an encouragement to us! Not only does God want us in his family, he wants to use us. When we join the family, he’ll put us to work, helping move this story along to its beautiful conclusion. Rahab got to play a part in Jesus’s coming as a baby, but we get to join in as Jesus comes in glory.

Prayer

God, your grace is astonishing! You could care less about my pedigree, and you’re even willing to overlook my sin as you graft me into your family and your story. Would you help me to be faithful like Rahab as I do the work you’ve called me to do? Amen.

About the author

Grace Claus is resident theologian and editor for Faithward. She's also managing editor of RCA Today, the denominational magazine of the Reformed Church in America.