The passage we reference today is one that I recall reading as a child and thinking it was the most ridiculous thing to have been included in the Scriptures. It is funny how some things change over the years, as this passage and the similar genealogy section from Matthew’s gospel are immensely interesting to me now years later.
Including today the opening two-verse summary of the baptism of Jesus, we have Luke giving us definition as to who Jesus is. He is first and foremost the divine Son of God. Beyond that, he is rightfully the heir to the Messianic title in that his lineage is fully Davidic and of the Abrahamic race. But beyond that, Luke – who is characteristically interested in demonstrating that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world – traces this lineage back to Adam.
So there are two family lines given to us in Matthew and Luke – one through Joseph and another through Mary. Chris Wiles yesterday in his message asked how many had used the Ancestry.com resource to do family history. I was one of those who raised a hand, having gotten much involved with that a few years ago as I tried to get a better mental handle on my mixed-up background. The end result was that I have two family trees – one through my biological mother and family of adoption, and another through my mostly previously unknown tree through the biological father I never met.
I have always said that doing such research may alternately reveal something very wonderfully fascinating, or it may reveal something dreadfully embarrassing in the skeletal closet of the family tree. I had the latter happen. Though I had the joy of connecting even personally with a cousin I never knew existed, I also found out that my great grandfather spent some time incarcerated in a federal prison for theft during his employment with the postal service. It seems that he learned his lesson and lived an honorable life after that, but I’ve never been able to push beyond him to his lineage – concluding that he was likely an orphan.
But I’m in good company with people who have some sap in their family tree! Jesus had some sketchy characters identified, particularly in Matthew’s version – prostitutes and folks with some serious life flaws. And the truth is that we all trace back to the same characters, particularly that fellow named Adam – the one whose failure caused the curse to fall upon us all. We are all condemned sinners as members of the same human family tree.
But the wonderful truth about Christ – about the whole celebration we commemorate at this season of the year – is that Jesus entered our family tree to pay the debt of the family curse. Having done so, he offers to us the opportunity of a new family tree, one that is spiritual and eternal. This is the family of the redeemed, the family of faith. It really is something worth celebrating!
Luke 3:21 – When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josek, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, 38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.