“You are so much like your mother.” I’ve heard that phrase many times in my life. Back when my mother and I both worked for the same company, I’d answer the phone only to have the person on the other end of the line go into a long conversation about a department I had nothing to do with. Over the phone, I’ve even had my father call me sweetheart—a term reserved only for my mother. I sound just like my mom. I look like her, too. And she looks like her mom. Who looks like her mom. I know exactly what I’m going to look like if I reach my 101st birthday. It’s in my genes.
Jesus had something in his genes. Royalty, for one. After all, he was referred to as the son of David. He came from a heritage of kings. But Jesus had more than royalty in his lineage. He had redemption.
Long before Jesus, there was David. And long before David, there was a woman named Ruth. Ruth was from Moab, but she married an Israelite. When her husband died, she returned with her mother-in-law to the land of her husband.
In Israel, there was a law that stated if a widow was childless, the nearest male relative to her deceased husband would marry her to produce an heir. This man (usually a brother, but not always) was known as the go’el or kinsman-redeemer.
Ruth’s husband’s family had land in Israel. It was a part of the inheritance the family received upon entering the Promised Land. The land would forever belong to the family so long as there was an heir to receive it. Ruth needed an heir. So she offered herself to Boaz—a man of the same tribe as her late husband. After the next of kin declined his duty, Boaz purchased the right to marry or act as a redeemer for Ruth.
Then the elders and all those at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord give you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
Ruth 4:11-12 (NIV)
Who’s Perez? Not Hilton, that’s for sure. Perez was a son of Judah. Judah was also a kinsman-redeemer. When his daughter-in-law remained childless after having been wed to two of his sons, Judah became the man to produce an heir. While it wasn’t the most savoury of situations, Judah was still a redeemer. Judah, an ancestor of Boaz who was a redeemer. Boaz, an ancestor of Jesus who is The Redeemer.
Boaz took on a debt he did not owe by marrying Ruth and providing an heir for her deceased husband. It seems so small in comparison to the debt Jesus paid for us. He became our go’el, taking on himself that which overwhelmed us—our sin.
I don’t think it was by accident that these men in Jesus’ lineage were also redeemers. Without them and their actions, Jesus never could have arrived on scene. David’s line never would have even existed for Jesus to be a part of it. Redemption was in Jesus’ blood. Redemption was in his genes.
Read: Ruth 1-4, Luke 11:29-54