Tamar, daughter-in-law of Judah, married two brothers who died. By law she should have been able to marry the third brother so she could have a baby and be a full member of the tribe. When this did not happen, she took matters into her own hands. She dressed as a prostitute, slept with Judah, and conceived twin sons. Oh my!
Tamar was rejected, abused, unloved and abandoned. Yet Judah must acknowledge that Tamar is more righteous than he is. Her story however does not end with the Genesis account. Tamar is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. “And Judah begat Phares and Zara of Tamar.” (Matthew 1:3) Matthew mentions Judah and Tamar as a reminder that we, like Judah are salvageable. God is not averse to using flawed people to carry out His plans. He accomplishes His plans despite human failures. He comes from a family of sinners to save sinners.
The fall of Adam and Eve was not simply the consumption of a particular article of food. It was a deliberate disobedience of God’s command. From that act of disobedience the entire creation was cursed. From that curse comes scheming and plotting to do evil, betrayal, revenge, an entire family in turmoil. Such was the lot of Tamar’s life.
In Lent, we learn of God’s redemption found in the person of Jesus Christ. He gives us what we really need. He is not content to make you feel good. Soothing words are not His to give. Sentimental nonsense never comes from His lips. He is a real Savior who saves real sinners. He didn't come into this world to be cute and adored. He came to us to be abandoned. He was born to die; not a noble death, applauded by the religious, but a death of loneliness surrounded in scorn and shame. And that miserable death has saved you. For it was your sin which He took, away.
Almighty and eternal God, because it was Your will that Your Son should bear the pains of the cross for us and thus remove from us the power of the adversary, help us so to remember and give thanks for our Lord’s Passion that we may receive remission of sins and redemption from everlasting death; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Collect for the First Sunday in Lent Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis