Jesus Is Not Ashamed of Those with an Embarrassing Past: The Story of Tamar

Universal Experience

Embarrassment is something that we can all relate to, right? Who hasn't been embarrassed? We might not want to tell the story of when we've been embarrassed, but we've all had that experience—whether it's on a small level like a slip on the ice or a trip in an airport or something like that. It could be something on a larger level that might haunt you in the night as you think about something you did or something that someone did to you.

So, we know what embarrassment feels like. And when that happens, we want to restart. We want a do-over. We just want a different narrative, and that's common. But what's so interesting with the Christian in relationship to Jesus is that while we may blush over our sin and our stories and our embarrassing past, we have a Savior who doesn't blush. He actually enters into the mess with us. And he not only enters into it, he actually uses it for his good. What starts out like a nightmare, actually, he uses it to fulfill all of our greatest longings and desires, sanctifying them in Christ, and then finally and ultimately keeping us for himself.

God Redeems Tamar’s Story

And so you can see this in numerous examples in the Bible. But one story that I think is really interesting is the story of Judah and Tamar. They show up in Jesus's genealogy.

He Is Not Ashamed

Erik Raymond

In He Is Not Ashamed, Erik Raymond takes a close look at the “family portrait” of God—filled with imperfect people throughout Scripture—and shows that God is not repelled by their shameful past, but delights to redeem and receive those who believe in him.

And you look at that and you say, Isn't this great that Judah then has a son through Tamar? And then Jesus comes. This is noteworthy. But you double-click on those names, and then you want to go read the story that corresponds with this. And it’s just an embarrassing story. When you look at it, you quickly realize that Judah and Tamar aren't married and they're in the same family. And that's a problem.

He actually enters into the mess with us, and not only enters into it, he actually uses it for his good.

Tamar was married to Judah's son, and they were bad guys. The first son, God takes him out because he's wicked. The second one comes along, and he's wicked and is also taken out. Then, Judah makes a promise to Tamar and says he's going to take care of her. It's not a promise he intends on keeping.

Finally, Judah basically casts her out of the house and she walks away into the wilderness, almost like one bearing the curse and left alone. But she takes matters into to her own hands. Hearing that he is actually going to a festival, she dresses up like a prostitute. He propositions, or impregnates her, and then she has twins. And that is the line that Jesus comes through.

Now, you look at that story and it's equal part sad, painful, and embarrassing. It's cringe-worthy. But that's one of the many embarrassing stories that Jesus enters into and comes into.

So if that's Jesus's past, certainly he wouldn't be ashamed of your past and of welcoming you into his family. If you have embarrassing stories, come into the family of Jesus. It's full of misfits like me and like you.

Erik Raymond is the author of He Is Not Ashamed: The Staggering Love of Christ for His People.

Related Articles

Related Resources

Crossway is a not-for-profit Christian ministry that exists solely for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel through publishing gospel-centered, Bible-centered content. Learn more or donate today at