Mrs. Uriah is the final woman mentioned before Mary in Matthew’s recorded family tree of Jesus.
The first three women were called by their first name – what gives with “Mrs.” Uriah? She has a name: Bathsheba. So, is this some kind of a slight to her? No, the slight is not towards her, but the man who had an affair with her.
Who was on the other side of the affair with Bathsheba? None other but the beloved King David.
It is interesting to see what God does through Matthew as he records the family tree of Jesus. I think King David is a metaphor for how many of our look at our own lives. Any honest person that was part of the genealogy that Matthew lists has to see that there are some shady characters in their family tree. But there was an inclusion of a hero that trumped them all – King David. King David was like Robin Hood – a loveable, noble outlaw who lived a life of intrigue and adventure. Surely having King David in your family tree more than makes up for any of the shady characters.
I think we do our own version of this when we take stock of our own lives. We know we have made some poor decisions, we probably have some regrets that we wish we could take back, and we usually know that we have been far from a paragon of morality and right behavior. But then we find something about ourselves – a positive behavior, something in our pedigree, something about our morality that is superior to others – and we feel like that trumps our shortcomings. It is our version of having King David in the family tree.
That is why Matthew calls Bathseba “Mrs. Uriah.” He is reminding us of the story of Uriah, and shedding unwelcome light on both sides of King David’s life.
Who was Uriah? Uriah was one of the best friends of David before and during his Kingship. He repeatedly demonstrated his loyalty to his friend and king, often at the risk of his own life. Early in David’s career King Saul was out to kill him, and Uriah was one of the first people to put himself in harm’s way to protect David.
How did King David repay the loyalty of his friend? 2 Samuel 11 tells us. David was in a mid-life crisis and was bored, and looked out his window one day and saw Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. Uriah was off in battle fighting for King David, but David decided he needed to have the Bathsheba. So David called for her, had an affair with her, and got her pregnant. Later, to cover up the conspiracy he has Uriah killed.
The first son that David has with Bathsheba dies, but later they have a son together named Solomon, who becomes part of the bloodline of Jesus.
When you reflect on the story of Uriah, it becomes clear why God has Mathew include it in the genealogy in association with David. Matthew is reminding everyone that even the crown jewel of the family tree was deeply flawed. Though everyone in that line felt such great pride to be related to King David, and felt so much corresponding shame about many of the others, Matthew won’t let them stay there. He is reminding them that their beloved King David did something far worse than any of the other misfits – he committed both adultery and murder.
Bathsheba (“Mrs. Uriah”) – the final woman of Christmas – reminds us of the most important message of Christmas: the grace of God. It will be stated clearly by the angel later in this chapter: “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Christmas reminds us that Jesus has come to save people from their sins, and King David reminds us that the need to be forgiven of our sins is a human universal.
To say it a couple of different ways:
When it comes to the Christmas message of the forgiveness of sins, no one – not even the best person – does not need Jesus Christ. King David reminds us of that.
And when it comes to the Christmas message of the forgiveness of sins, no one – not even the worst person – can fail to receive the grace of Jesus Christ. Most of the people in this genealogy remind us of that.
You could be a king or a peasant, a woman or a man, a spectacular sinner or a secret sinner, a prostitute or a pope – all need grace, and all can receive grace by faith.
This is the wonder and joy of the greatest story ever told.
May this Christmas be filled with grace for you and your family.