Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God for the blessing of the godly heritage he creates in families. Praise God for the covenant blessings that come from such a heritage. Praise God that we share in those blessings. Genesis 17:1-14, Galatians 3:29.
Confess the sin of struggling to make the most of our lives in Christ. Pray that we would make the most of the blessings God has given us, whether through a godly heritage or through a first-generation Christianity. Romans 7:17-25.
Let's read Luke 3:23-38.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
V23. Jesus begins his ministry.
What age was Jesus when he started his ministry? Why, given the knowledge he had at the age of 12 (remember how he interacted with the teachers in the temple and how they were amazed at his understanding and answers), did he wait until he was thirty to begin his work? We are not told the reason why, but the fact that a Levitical priest in the Old Testament had to be thirty before he could hold office is probably key to it. Numbers 4:47. While one would not want to be hard and fast about the age a man has to be before he can become a minister; nonetheless, there has to be some measure of maturity. Some men have that maturity before the age of thirty; sadly, some men never attain it, and the church must take care not to permit such men into the ministry of God's Word and prayer. Damage has been done to congregations by men who have lacked basic common sense, emotional intelligence, and spiritual maturity. Give thanks for the godly men we have in the RP Church in Canada. Men who possess these attributes, as well as the gifts of preaching and teaching. Men who are a blessing to the congregations where they serve Christ.
V24-38. Jesus’ Genealogy.
Why do we need a genealogy of Jesus? What's the point of this long list of names, and I am not going to comment on their pronounce-ability? Other than to say, I am just thankful that I am writing about this and not having to read the list of names. Now be gentle as that smile breaks out on your face. I have developed a game plan to help me pronounce such words. I have found a pronunciation website.
So why do we need this list? Because it shows that Jesus was a real man and not a demi-god like those in Greek and Roman mythology. The fact that it goes back to David points to his Messianic qualifications. That it goes back to Adam brings out his relationship to all mankind. And the fact that it goes back to the fact that he is the Son of God, v38, indicates that he is the Creator of all life. So, it may be a slightly difficult list of names to pronounce, but it is an essential and very significant list of names.
As we look at Luke's account of Jesus’ genealogy, it is important to note that it is very different from the one in Matthew's gospel.
- First, it's in a different place. Matthew's is at the very start of his gospel, and here we are well into the gospel by the time we find it in Luke.
- Second, Luke begins his genealogy with Jesus and works back to Adam. Matthew starts with Abraham and works forward to Jesus.
- Third, there are differences in content. As noted, Luke gives us the genealogy from Abraham to Adam; Matthew doesn't. There is nothing in Matthew's genealogy from Adam to Abraham. But that's not the only difference in content. While they are virtually the same from Abraham to David, they then diverge into two different lines.
How do we explain these differences, given the importance of whose genealogy this is?
Well, let's start with the last issue and work back to the first.
There are three explanations as to why the line is different from David on.
1. Some suggest that Luke gives the genealogy as it runs through Mary's line; Matthew takes it through Joseph's family. The response is that this is not how genealogies were recorded, i.e. they were not cited through the female line. The counterargument is that this is a unique genealogy given there was no natural human father, and so, it is reasonable to trace the line through Mary.
2. Another suggestion revolves around Joseph's father. In Luke's account, he is said to be Heli, whereas in Matthew's, it is said to be a man called Jacob. How could Jesus have two different grandfathers on his legal father's side, i.e. Joseph? Well, it is suggested that Heli died without fathering a child, so his half brother Jacob married his wife and he fathered Joseph. (A levirate or kinsman-redeemer marriage. See Deuteronomy 25:5-10, and the story of Ruth and Boaz. Ruth 4.) This would have meant that Joseph's natural father was Jacob, and his legal father would have been Heli. And so, tracing the line through Heli, Joseph's legal father, generates a different genealogy for Luke than for Matthew, who traces the line back through Jacob, Joseph's natural father.
3. The third suggestion is that Luke cites the descendants of David according to the line, which leads to Joseph the father of Jesus, whereas Matthew gives the legal descendants of David, i.e. those men who would have held the throne had it continued to exist. Therefore, you have two different lines.
Which one of these is the right option? I don't know, but what it does show is that there are legitimate reasons why the genealogy is presented in two different lines. This is important because some would point to things like this in the Bible and say, 'look it's inconsistent, it can't even get the birth line of Jesus right, how can you trust any of it!'
As to why Luke begins his genealogy with Jesus and works back to Adam, whereas Matthew starts with Abraham and works his way to Jesus? It is possible that Luke is setting up the context for the oncoming battle between Jesus and Satan in the wilderness. A battle where Jesus is meeting Satan as the 'last' Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:22,45. This is also the reason for the location of Luke's genealogy, i.e. immediately before the temptation of Jesus.
One final thought on this genealogy.
It speaks to the issue of mortality. We know very little about most of the names cited in this list. Men who would have lived their lives, having their fair share of joy and sorrow, hopes and fears, plans and dreams, but one thing they all shared is that they lived and they died.
Life is incredibly short; at best, it is held onto by a fragile thread. Many healthy people entered 2020 looking forward to all that it would hold for them, but now they are dead. It's not about being morbid; it's about facing the reality of the brevity of life. This season is giving us time to stop and think. Time to take stock of what is really important in this one short life that God has blessed us with. May your habit of communing with God get stronger daily for as long as he grants you life on this earth.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 119E. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Keep up the memorizing; it will be good for your heart relationship with the Lord.
"Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes; whence comes my aid?
The Lord's my help, the heavens and earth by him were made.
Your foot from stumbling he will always keep;
the One who guards your life will never sleep.
He who keeps Israel slumbers not nor sleeps By night or day.
The Lord keeps you, a shade on your right hand The Lord will stay"
Truth for the Mind and Heart. Shorter Catechism.
Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
Scripture proofs pdf - https://opc.org/documents/SCLayout.pdf
Thank God for the fact that Jesus, his Son, was a real man.
Thank God that we have a historical record of his lineage and that it can be traced back to Adam.
Thank God for the coming of Jesus into the world, and how, in God's grace, that has blessed our lives, and pray that those who are our descendants would be equally blessed.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley