Dear Hillsdale friends and Heart of a Shepherd Followers,
I look forward to being back in the pulpit at Hillsdale this Sunday morning, just in time to begin my Christmas series, “Five Portraits of God’s Love and Grace”, a study of the lineage of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Matthew 1.
I appreciate the pastoral staffs’ pulpit ministry in my absence as I am recovering from two surgeries in November; however, I am anxious to assume the yoke and privilege of the pastoral ministry at Hillsdale.
The title of this Sunday morning’s sermon is, “Judah and Tamar: A Testimony of Matchless Grace”.
Tamar is the first of five women named by Matthew in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Given the nature of sin, everyone’s family tree will have some rotten branches and bad-apples. The lineage of Jesus Christ is no exception and fulfills Paul’s observation that Jesus “made himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7).
The inclusion of Tamar’s name in the lineage of Jesus Christ is stunning given her scandalous past. She was twice widowed. Driven by a feeling of injustice and longing for a son, she played the harlot, seduced her father-in-law Judah, and by him conceived two sons (Genesis 38).
When Judah learned Tamar was with child outside of marriage, he hypocritically ordered her burned to death (Genesis 38:24); however, when she produced evidence he was the father of the sons in her womb, he confessed his sin (Genesis 38:25-26).
The marvel of God’s matchless grace is that Phares, the eldest son born to Tamar would be Judah’s heir (Genesis 38:27-30) and one of the fathers named in the lineage of the royal line of whom Jesus Christ would be born (Matthew 1:3).
What a wonderful invitation for lost sinners! May the message of Christmas be the testimony of saving grace! The person, life and lineage of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is a testimony of God’s love and grace towards sinners.
I look forward to introducing this Sunday morning the first of five portraits of God’s love and grace!
With the heart of a shepherd,
Pastor Travis D. Smith