December 5 - Genealogy, pt. 2

Friday, December 5, 2008

December 5, 2008 - Genealogy, pt. 2 - Luke 3:23-38

Luke's genealogy of Jesus is noticeably different in several ways from that of Matthew's. Luke begins with Jesus and traces it back from there while Matthew began with Abraham and traced it forward. Luke also adds all of the generations from Abraham back to Adam and finally, to God. Luke found that it was very important for him to establish Jesus' historical ancestry not only to the nation of Israel but to the Creator Himself.

There are several different scholarly reasons why the genealogy is so different from David down to Joseph in the two Gospels. One reason given is that Luke actually traced Mary's genealogy, proving that physically (since Joseph was, in essence, a foster father) Jesus could trace His line to David and to Abraham. Luke does not name any women in his list. He does not find it important to tell the history of the Jewish nation while writing this list. Mary would not have been a part of any genealogy, but the actual line of descent would come from her ancestry.

Another reason is that Matthew was offering a legal line of royal descent, while Luke gave us the human line. Even a foster father offers his son legal rights to an inheritance. In Jewish culture, the father's ancestry would have been much more important and that would have been important as well to Matthew.

While Matthew's genealogy proves Jesus' legal right to the throne, Luke's proves Jesus' natural right. Luke's focus throughout his gospel is to prove that Jesus Christ came as the Son of Man. Matthew was writing for the Jews and his gospel shows Jesus' jewishness and the importance of His royal lineage. This is why we will see that Matthew finds the story of the Wise Men visiting Jesus important and Luke finds the story of the simple shepherds visiting the new baby to be critical to the story of the Savior.

We don't know for sure why there are differences in the last part of the lineage, but what we do see is that as Luke processed through this and took us back to a time before the nation of Israel was created, he places Jesus in a position to be a savior to all of mankind, not just the Hebrew nation.

Luke placed his genealogy of Jesus well into the story. Jesus has turned 30 and his ministry has begun. The Holy Spirit has just descended on him while he was being baptized and God announced that Jesus was His son. It was time for Luke to prove who this man was to his readers.

As for us, we are just beginning to look at the Gospel stories. The genealogies are important to have as background and foundation to the greatest story every told.