Text: Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23b-38; Luke 1:26-35
Genealogies. Blah. Boring. You start reading these verses and you begin to doze off. Or do you? We said 24 verses but for the sake of seeing how these genealogies tie together, we will also look at who Jesus is according to the angel Gabriel.
Matthew and Luke record Jesus’ genealogy differently.
Matthew, (the famous tax collector also known as Levi) traces Jesus’ ancestry from Abraham to David, then from David to the Babylonian exile and finally from the Babylonian exile down to Joseph, Mary’s husband. Being the accountant that he was, he does this very symmetrically – 14 generations through each period and names about 40 people as Jesus’ ancestors (he skipped a few – just like saying you are the child of your grandfather). Luke, Theophilus’ investigative journalist/historian (remember Luke 1:3) and physician recorded more details (remember he was a doctor and historian) and traces Jesus’ genealogy in descending order from Jesus right through to Adam (whom he calls son of God) – naming over 70 people as Jesus’ ancestors. Absolutely fascinating!
Why these differences? They were both being true to professional type – and were writing for different audiences. Matthew’s record was for a Jewish audience – hence the emphasis on the Israeli and Jewishness of Jesus’ ancestry – although he does not neglect to mention the Gentiles in that ancestral line such as Rahab (the Canaanite prostitute from Jericho – see Joshua 2 & 6 for her story) and Ruth (the Moabitess – see the book of Ruth for her story). What Matthew hinted at for his Jewish audience (God’s inclusive plan of salvation for ALL peoples of the world), Luke explicitly stated for his wider Greek audience with his record going beyond Abraham all the way to Adam and God.
In both Jewish and Greek patrilineal societies where ancestry is traced through fathers, it is interesting that Matthew and Luke take pains to hint that Jesus was not directly seeded from Joseph. Luke says “Jesus was known as the son of Joseph” (Luke 3:23b) and Matthew explicitly says, “Joseph, the husband of Mary, Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.” (Matthew 1:16). Mary of course, was legally Joseph’s wife so her offspring would be traced from Joseph’s line. (For more on Mary’s lineage and the genealogies, see https://bit.ly/33fRMLX).
These genealogies affirm two prophecies and promises made by God to Satan and to Abraham. The first to Satan, from Genesis 3:15, “…And I will cause hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head and you will strike his heel.” The second in Genesis 22:18 to Abraham “…and through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed…”
These were fulfilled through the coming and birth of Jesus. Finally, the Angel Gabriel, sent by God to Mary gives further insight into Jesus’ person in Luke 1:
Jesus will be very great.
He will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
He will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end…
The baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
This prophecy is being fulfilled. Jesus is indeed very great – we have seen his impact for the last 2000 years as he has impacted our calendar, our world, transformed lives etc. He has been called and is still being called the Son of the Most High. We sing songs to him and revere his name. The Lord has given him the throne of David and he will reign over Israel forever – this is yet to be fulfilled in the physical although it has already been fulfilled in the spiritual sense as Israel and the whole world is subjected to Jesus’ authority and lordship.
Jesus is the Lord for all people, of all time, for all time – both for Jews and for the rest of the world – for all mankind and as we read this right now, Isreal and all the nations of the world are being prepared for Jesus’ return and coming kingdom and rulership.
So as we enjoy this day, let us confidently go in the knowledge that Jesus is King of the entire world – for all time, for all generations and transcends technologies, time, all plottings. He will reign. Forever. King. Lord. And those who seek Him have nothing to fear. This is Jesus. Of whom this hymnal verse is true:
Crown Him the Lord of years,
The Potentate of time.
Creator of the rolling spheres,
All hail, Redeemer, hail!