The Genealogy of Jesus
Topic: Genealogy Verse: Luke 3:23–3:38
“The Genealogy of Jesus”
Theme: The documentation of Jesus ancestry certifies His credentials and relevance as the Savior of the World.
Introduction: In many cultures, lineage is a very high priority (eg. Richard Richardovich). Often, in our modern American culture, because of our rugged individualism, lineage is dismissed - often considered a hindrance to independence. Perhaps this was caused by a rejection of royalty in the midst of democracy. Yet, in days of Jesus, the Jews highly prioritized lineage - tracing one’s parents back to Abraham as a source of pride. The various tribes inherited land specific to their forefather - and various rights were associated with which tribe they had the ability to be identified. This was absolutely essential for any claim to the role of the Messiah - it was absolutely necessary to be able to trace one’s lineage back to David, then to Judah, then to Abraham. In 70 AD, the temple where all of the genealogical records were kept was destroyed, rendering certification impossible for anyone making a claim. Hence, a Messiah could not be indisputably identified as there were no more records available or kept. Jesus is the only man who would claim the right to rule and this is demonstrated through the biblical record of His lineage and qualification.
I. Jesus’ Credentials Are Certified – 3:23
A. The Qualification of Maturity
- As Luke turns full focus on the life and ministry of Jesus, He begins by providing a certification of His credentials as the Messiah and Savior of the world.
- He begins by providing a statement that the subject is not the ministry of Christ and the propriety of Jesus’ patience and temperance in beginning - “When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age .”
- “thirty years of age” is was a customary age for men called of God to begin their ministries - cp. Ezekiel 1:1; Genesis 41:46; 2 Samuel 5:4; 1 Chronicles 23:3
- Thus any objection to Jesus being “too young” was removed by the patience exhibited by Jesus before beginning His ministry; yet another demonstration that He is not self-appointed, but submissive to the will and call of God.
B. The Qualification through Maternity
- Luke continues to provide certification of Jesus credentials by means of His genealogy - “… being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph …”
- This phrase “as was supposed” [ὡς ἐνομίζετο] - to form an idea about something, but with some suggestion of tentativeness or refraining from a definitive statement, think, believe, hold, consider
- In the time of Christ, legal status depended on the father, so Luke makes reference to Joseph despite the awareness of the fact that Joseph had nothing to do with the conception of Jesus.
- The common thought was that Joseph was Jesus’ father, but Luke’s priority is to show that Jesus’ sonship to Joseph is strictly a legal one - Matthew 13:54-56.
- Luke truly desires that we understand that Jesus is not the son of Joseph - not only by means of this reference to the “supposition,” but also by means of grammatical construction - all the other names are preceded by the definite article “the,” but this verse is the exception - calling attention to the distinction.
- It becomes evident, when consulting Matthew’s parallel genealogy, that Luke is providing the record of Jesus only biological offspring through Mary whose father, then, was “Eli”:
- a. The names do not align from Jesus to David, but take the lineage from a different son of David - Matthew traces Solomon; Luke traces Nathan - 1 Chronicles 3:5.
- b. Only Luke shares the names from Abraham to Adam; Matthew’s purpose is to demonstrate Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and thus traces Him back to Abraham.
- c. Luke, however, desires to emphasize that Jesus is the Son of God - and thus, traces Him all the way back through Adam to God.
- Luke’s placement of this genealogy here is a follow-up on God the Father’s announcement that Jesus is His “… beloved Son …” - cp. v. 22.
- Why did it matter that Jesus waited until He was 30 years of age before beginning His ministry? What lessons can his example provide us in an era of the veneration of youth?
- Why is it important to the Holy Spirit to note that Jesus was not actually the Son of Joseph? What relevance does the doctrine of the Virgin Birth have to you?
- What are some reasons that lineage can be valuable? What legacy would you desire to leave for your descendants?
II. Jesus’ Relevance Is Certified – 3:23-38
A. The Supposed Son of Joseph - (Savior of All Men) - v. 23
- As mentioned, Jesus’ lineage is provided through two genealogies - Matthew and Luke.
- Matthew gives the actual lineage through Joseph, emphasizing the legal right of Christ to ascend to the throne of Israel in fulfillment of God’s promises to David and Solomon.
- Luke however, provides the physical, biological lineage of Jesus through His mother, Mary, who conceived Jesus by means of the creative power through the Holy Spirit - cp. Luke 1:30-33
- This was in fulfillment of the eternal purpose of God to save men from their sin through a substitute who would come and save sinners - cp. Hebrews 2:14-18; Philippians 2:5-8.
B. The Son of David - (Heir to the Throne) - vv. 24-31
- This section deviates from Matthew’s list for the reasons that we’ve already discussed.
- There are two points of overlap - in the cases of Zerubbabel and Shealtiel - the explanation for which is something called a Levirite marriage where a brother takes his widowed sister-in-law as his wife to raise up seed in the name of his brother.
- This is included in order to demonstrate that Jesus biologically is the heir to the throne of David in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant where God promised that the seed of David would sit upon the throne in Jerusalem forever - cp. 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Luke 1:32-23.
C. The Son of Abraham (Seed of Promise) - v. 32-34
- This section provides an even greater application and relevance to Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise as He is traced back to Abraham Himself.
- It was to Abraham that God gave the promise concerning the intention to bring blessing upon the whole earth by means of His seed - Galatians 3:16.
- Whereas the seed promise given to David was with reference to the throne of Israel, the seed promise given the Abraham was that “all families of the earth shall be blessed” through him - cp. Genesis 12:1-3
- This is the sense in which Gentiles are included into the Abrahamic Covenant where God’s intention to bring Himself glory through Abraham and his offspring was communicated.
D. The Son of Adam (Humanity) - v. 35-38
- This section provides the awareness that Jesus is fully human - being the ultimate descendant of Adam without the same debilitation that mankind possessed because of sin.
- Jesus is the fulfillment of the very first promise given by God to men after the Fall into sin and depravity - that God would send a Deliverer who, while suffering, would crush Satan’s head - cp. Genesis 3:15
- It is interesting how this verse meshes with Luke’s genealogy - the “seed” of the woman, Eve, through the woman Mary.
- Once again, Jesus’ relevance is demonstrated as including all mankind - all the offspring of Adam and Eve (all inclusive) - cp. Romans 5:12-15.
E. The Son of God (Sovereign over All) - v. 38
- Finally, Luke concludes this genealogy by bringing the genealogy of Jesus all the way to God.
- This brings what Luke is saying “full circle” back to God’s announcement that Jesus was His beloved Son.
- The genealogy provides the data necessary to demonstrate how God sent His Son - the means by which His promise to send the Deliverer was fulfilled.
- How does Jesus’ genealogy demonstrate that He is at the center of all Scripture?
- His what ways do the people in Jesus’ genealogy encourage you in the midst of your struggles and failures?
- How does the main point of Jesus’ genealogy motivate you?