Real people. Real Savior: Perez : Part 8

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.


God is willing to be part of a family that includes the worst of sinners—including you and me.

Thomas D. Kock

Judah, fourth son of Jacob, went off to live with a friend named Hirah, an Adullamite. There Judah married a Canaanite woman, and had three sons. When his oldest son Er came of age, Judah got a wife for him. Her name was Tamar.


But God put Er to death because he “was wicked in the LORD’s sight” (Genesis 38:7).

So Judah asked Onan, his second son, to marry Tamar in order to provide a son that would be considered the son of Er, his dead brother. It was a proper request even if it seems strange to us. But Onan didn’t want to provide a child who would be considered his brother’s, so when he and Tamar had relations, “he spilled his semen on the ground” (38:9). What he did was also “wicked in the LORD’s sight” (38:10), and God put him to death too.

With two of his three sons dead, Judah told Tamar to live in her father’s house as a widow until Shelah was old enough to be married.

After a long time Judah’s wife died. After a time of grief, Judah went to where his men were shearing his sheep. Tamar was told that her father-in-law was going to visit the sheepshearers; she dressed up as if she was a shrine prostitute.

Judah saw her and wanted to pay her to have sexual relations with him. He promised that he’ll give her a young goat as payment; she wanted something to keep as a pledge. So he gave her his seal, cord, and staff, all of which would have identified him.

Later when it becomes obvious that she was pregnant, Judah wanted to burn her to death as a prostitute! He still did not know that he was the father of the child. She produced the evidence (seal, cord, staff), and Judah recognized his own sinfulness.

From that sinful alliance, Tamar bore twins, Perez and Zerah. Amazingly, Perez was one of the ancestors of our Savior.


If you haven’t heard that account before, perhaps you are surprised by its graphic sinfulness. But if we’re honest as we look at our own hearts, it’s not much of a surprise. Lent—spring and sheepshearing time—gives us that opportunity to examine our hearts. But Lent is so much more. It’s about the Savior who came for us. He was willing to be part of a family that included Judah, Tamar, and Perez!

He is willing to be part of a family that includes you and me too. That’s amazing! The holy God was willing to suffer and die so that you and I could be part of his family. That’s even more amazing! The holy God made sure that you and I heard about what he did for us, and he led us to trust it. That too is amazing! And thankfully, it’s also true.

So, goodbye to regret and sorrow. Hello to Jesus and his gracious victory for us.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This is the eighth article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.


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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 103, Number 3
Issue: March 2016

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