Luke 3:23-38: Children of God

Read: Luke 3:23-38

Two genealogies of Jesus appear in the New Testament: one in Luke and the other in Matthew 1:1-17. Genealogies can be boring, but usually within the genealogy there are little nuggets that the chronologist will inject into the in the genealogy to make a point. Luke does this as well First, he notes that Jesus is the “supposed” son of Joseph. This is a round about way of affirming the virgin birth of Jesus (as he was conceive d by the Holy Spirit), a nod to the fact that God the Father had just affirmed Jesus as his son (Luke 3:22), reaffirming what the angel told Mary (Luke 1:35), and also reaffirms what Jesus said when he acknowledge God the Father as his father when he was at the temple (Luke 2:49). But in keeping with tradition, Luke lists Joseph as his earthly father and traces the genealogy from there. Second, which is a curious thing, is that Luke calls Adam the the “son of God”. Adam was not divine, rather he was created (Genesis 2:7). John calls Jesus the “begotten son” of God (John 3:16). Likewise, Adam is the father of all those who sin, which results in death while Jesus is the one who brings life (Romans 5:12-19, 1 Corinthians 15:20-49).

An issue specific to the genealogies in New Testament surrounds the differences between the genealogies Matthew and Luke. Luke has Jesus as a Son of David by way of David’s son Nathan while Matthew has Jesus coming through the line of Solomon. A difference though does not imply a contradiction, but the reason for the difference is also unknown. Given what is known about the books, the difference may have to do with the purpose of each book. Matthew’s gospel was written to Jews, so it was important for Jesus to come from the royal line in order to be the rightful heir to the throne of David and the genealogy goes back to Abraham. Luke’s gospel was written to a Gentile so the emphasis was on the global aspect so he goes all the way back to Adam. Without more insight and evidence, the reason for the differences is likely to remain unresolved, but nevertheless it does not diminish the veracity or the points made in the genealogies.

What we can affirm from Luke’s genealogy is that Jesus is indeed the one begotten Son of God who came into the world by unusual means. His mission was to bring life by overcoming the death that had been brought into the world by Adam. For those that will believe in Jesus, they too can become “children of God” through adoption (Romans 8:14-23). While Christians have earthly parents, the parentage that one can claim is God the Father. It’s a good reminder that no matter how good or how bad one’s earthly parents may be, one can live in a loving relationship with God as Father. In the same manner, knowing how God loves his own children, parents ought to love their children too, looking to God as the model parent and be an advocate for those who don’t have parents.

Lord, I rejoice that am your child!

Hebrews 2:5-18: The Blessings of the Incarnate Jesus

Read: Hebrews 2:5-18

After telling his readers not to neglect their salvation, the author of Hebrews talks about the blessings that came from Jesus becoming a man, dying, and resurrecting from the dead. Continuing on the subject of angels, the author reasons that the angels were not sent to the world, rather Jesus was sent, to handle the matter of salvation, the “which we are speaking” in verse 5. He then goes to make two arguments interwoven together.

The first argument comes from Psalm 8:4-6 to establish that man was made lower than the angels. Psalm 8 talks about the majesty of God being displayed in all the earth, and yet in light of this, God takes note of man who “crowned with glory” from God and placed is given dominion over the earth. The Septuagint again translates the Hebrew word “אלהים”, (pronounced “el-o-heem”) here into the Greek word for “angels”, while most English Bibles translate it “God”. The author of Hebrews is talking about angels and using the Septuagint, so applies this to Jesus, who referred to himself as the “son of man” numerous times in the Gospels, being made lower than the angels as a man. In doing so Jesus died for everyone. But unlike man, Jesus had the power to overcome death and remove the power of death from the devil. The author reasons that those who receive salvation also receive glory because of what Jesus did. And all the more, because Jesus became a man, he becomes a “merciful” and “faithful” high priest who can sympathize with the weaknesses of man (this is expounded in chapters 4 and 5).

The second argument comes from a selection of verses from two places: Psalm 22:22, Isaiah 8:17-18. Psalms 22:1 is quoted by Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:46). The first half of the Psalm talks about a person experiencing great angst, yet the Psalm shifts in attitude when the psalmist recalls that God is not far off. In a manner of speaking, Jesus was reminding those who were witnessing his death that God was not far off. And after three days, Jesus rose from the dead and was with them again. Psalm 22:22 talks of the one undergoing angst proclaiming God in the midst of “brethren”. Isaiah 8 is in the midst of several messianic prophecies. The first one is of his birth (Isaiah 7:7), the second of his name Immanuel (Isaiah 8:8), and the third one of his titles (Isaiah 9:1-7). Isaiah 8 specifically is talking about the judgment to come to Israel from the Assyrians, but nevertheless there are a few faithful who put their trust in God. The author of Hebrews likens this to Jesus too. The common theme between Psalm 22:22 and Isaiah 8:17-18 is that is the presence of family, namely “brethren” and “children”. The author of Hebrews is arguing that Jesus, in becoming a man, makes family of man, such that he is not ashamed to call them “brethren”.

The tangible benefits new life, having a perfect high priest that can sympathize with our weaknesses, and having God as family are simply amazing blessings. Paul uses a very similar motif in Romans – before one is saved, one is destine to die. But what God does through Christ is raise one from a slave to an adopted son such that one is a joint heir with Jesus and also partake in his glory in God’s kingdom (Romans 8:11-17). Knowing Christians are adopted by the King should bring great comfort. God is not far off, and certainly Christians can know that they can take refuge in him, calling him “Abba”, which is analogous in English to “Daddy”!

Lord, your coming has made me alive and a part of your family!
Help me to draw comfort from you because you close by!