We all know about the virgin.
She fits perfectly in our nativity scenes—the young virgin, faithful husband, and little Lord Jesus “no crying he makes.”
It’s so tame, this silent night. So picturesque.
Because we all know about the virgin.
The nativity seems like a fairytale. Surely, that scene couldn’t be our world in all its purity and peace. In our brokenness and suffering, the holy family looks out of place. Through the sin and shame we hold inside, the family on our stained glass windows looks unapproachable, distant, foreign. In our broken families, we feel like that peaceful baby and his parents wouldn’t understand.
Because all we know about is the virgin.
But we don’t know about the prostitute.
We don’t know about the adulteress, the abused and mistreated, or the enemy of God’s people—the extended family of Jesus Christ.
God chose the faithful virgin to bring his Son into this world. But before Mary, Jesus came from a long line of broken and hurting women.
We don’t know about the prostitute.
Her name was Rahab. She worked as a prostitute in Jericho, a land at enmity with the Israelites—God’s chosen people. She had heard of the God of Israel and was amazed at the way He loved and protected His people. She was scared of what that meant for her land—a people opposed to the God of the Israelites.
So when two Israelite spies arrived at her door, Rahab risked everything and decided to help them. She hid them on her roof and sent her city’s armies in the opposite direction. And then, with boldness, she made her request—that she and her family be spared from the destruction of her city.
Rahab was not entitled, she had no misconceptions about who she was, and her “heart melted in fear” at the things she had seen God do for His people. But she also knew that the God she had heard about was strong. She knew that if He could part the Red Sea for His people, He was strong enough to save even her, so she asked for mercy and protection. And the lives of her and her family were spared.
But God wasn’t finished.
He had shown her mercy. He had saved her, but he was strong enough—loving enough—to do so much more.
The next time we see Rahab’s name is in the first chapter of Matthew… right in the middle of the bloodline of Jesus Christ.
Rahab, the prostitute, was not saved and exiled. Rahab wasn’t shown mercy and shunned. She wasn’t cast aside or hidden as a dark part of family history. She was mentioned by name, right along King David, Joseph, and the Redeemer of this fallen world. She was loved and welcomed into the family.
And that is the Christmas story. It’s the silent night and the virgin girl. But that’s not all it is.
Christmas is a broken world with hurting people, and it’s the God who is close to the broken hearted. It’s a weary world, and it’s the One who came to bear our burdens. It’s a world living in darkness, and it’s the star that brings a great light.
Christmas is redemption. It’s Immanuel—God with us.
It means that God isn’t finished with us. He became like us so we could become like Him. He entered into our world, so we could enter into His.
God could have chosen anyone to bring Him into this world, but he chose Rahab, a prostitute; Bathsheba, an adultress; Tamar, a woman hurt and abused by those around her, and Mary, a teenage girl. God is in the business of redemption—of using the weak to lead the strong.
Even the city where Jesus was born was too little to be among the clans of Judah.
And none of this was an accident. Our Savior had a message to prove—that these glad tidings of great joy really were for all people—men and women, young and old, kings and shepherds, virgins and prostitutes, adulterers and abused, Israelite and Moabite. There is room for all in the kingdom of God, because He came to make it so.
The veil is torn—sin has lost its power and death has lost its sting.
Joy to the world. The Lord is come.