Both Matthew and Luke present to their readers a genealogical record of Jesus’ lineage. In the last post on this subject (Offspring (Seed) of David: Part II, Matthew’s Genealogy) we focused on Matthew’s emphasis in tying Jesus to Abraham and David. This time around we are going to look into Luke’s emphasis and see what we might learn from it.
Why does Luke point from Jesus to Adam?
“Okay, why does Luke’s genealogy differ in that it points to Adam, rather than Abraham or David?” you ask. Great question.
I think that one reason is related to Luke’s audience. Jesus is not just the savior of the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well. There are many passages in the Old Testament (Tanakh) that reveal God’s willingness and provision for those people who are not physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (e.g. Isa 65). The whole earth is God’s, so it makes sense that He would include the means to deliver others from their sin. As it is written:
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1John 2.2).
Therefore, one would expect to find this gospel hope in the beginning…
Quick look at Luke’s Genealogy…
Luke’s genealogical record follows immediately after the acts of John the Baptist at the Jordan River. He is baptizing the people, calling for repentance and a turning towards the rule of God. Thus, he preached the gospel of God, pointing his audience to God’s Anointed (Luke 3.16-17). While at the same time denying the charge of the people that he (John the Baptist) was the Messiah (Luke 3.15).
The Baptist also highlights a truth contained in the whole canon of Scripture which is for various reasons overlooked. Earthly status and outward behavior do not save a person from God’s judgment; rather salvation is an act of God’s grace (Luke 3.8-9). Demonstrated in the hearts of believer’s via faith; a gift of the Lord (Luke 3.10-14).
After these things, Luke finds it appropriate to record the family line of Jesus through Joseph, his supposed father (Luke 3.23). Again, the thrust of this “family tree” is in tracing Jesus’ roots all the way back to the beginning. If salvation (deliverance from sin and separation from God) is that which truly belongs to the Lord, then it makes sense that this would have been appropriated by God from the beginning…not the end. Therefore, Luke ends Jesus’ genealogical heritage as follows: “Jesus…the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3.38).
Commonalities shared between Jesus and Adam
Son of God…
There are a couple of points that we need to hit on here. The first being that both Adam and Jesus are unique in that they alone are identified as the “son of God.” This is tied to the biblical understanding of supernatural creation. Both Adam and Jesus were formed by unnatural means. God formed Adam from the dust of the earth, and God formed Jesus in the womb of Mary. The Holy Spirit is seen hovering over both instances as this is a work of God and not anything else (cf. Gen 1.2; Matt 1.18, 20; Luke 1.27-28). The emphasis on Adam, the first man, and the emphasis on Jesus, the last man is that they are unique in terms of their entrance into the world (1Cor 15.45-49; cf. Rom 5.14).
Due to their created status they were given specific authority in how they functioned and ruled in this world. Both Adam and Jesus were given dominion over the earth and over its creatures (cf. Gen 1.26-28; Matt 28.18; Luke 4.32, 36; 5.24; 9.1; 10.19; John 5.27; 10.18). This was due to their status as God’s image bearers. An image is a shadow or a reflection (a mirror) of that, which it images. Both Adam and Jesus were given instruction to exercise dominion in a godly fashion; reflecting God’s thoughts and therefore actions into daily activity.
As such they also served as representatives for their offspring. In the beginning God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Why? Besides children being a blessing from God, offspring serve another purpose. What is it? To follow in the steps of their father. Adam and Jesus were to follow in the steps of their heavenly Father as His image bearers. In the same way, their offspring after them was to follow in the steps of their father.
(NOTE: I am using the term “father” here as a functional word, which I shall explain in a few moments; so, please bear with me.)
Scripture speaks of offspring in the following manner:
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Psa 127.4-5).
An arrow is a weapon. A child is to be trained up in the ways of the Heavenly Father by their earthly father, so that when they grow old, they will not depart far from His ways (cf. Prov 22.6; Deut 6.7; 11.19). The offspring mirror their fathers.
Now you may question my use of “father” in applying it to Jesus. Understandable since we normally do not speak of Him in this light, but God in His Word does:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forever more.” (Isa 9.6-7).
If we are able to bear it, Adam was given authority to rule because he was designated a king (vice-regent) over creation, and his offspring were to walk in his steps after him. Similarly, Jesus was given authority as the Son of God to rule because he was designated a king over creation, and his offspring are to walk in his steps after him.
Differences Between Adam and Jesus
Son of God…Dominion Authority…Being Fruitful
Rather than treat his categories separately, I am going to tie them all together into one cogent thought. A son is supposed to be like his father. A son is supposed to rule, to govern, to exercise dominion like his father. A son is supposed to be fruitful to carry on his name, his heritage.
Adam rebelled against God in the garden. He disregarded God’s instruction and refuse to mimic his heavenly Father’s ways. Therefore, the free exercise of his dominion is unjust, unrighteous, and the ways of peace he, nor his offspring after him have not known.
Jesus on the other hand was obedient in the garden: “not my will be done, but thine.” He regarded God’s instruction and refused to depart from His Word or His Ways (Matt 4.4; John 5.19; 12.49). Therefore, the free exercise of his dominion was just, righteous, and the ways of peace he made known, freely giving it to his offspring (Luke 23.41; John 14.27. 1Pet 1.19).
One Final Observation…
There is one final commonality that Jesus and Adam shared when their first entered creation, and with it comes one marked difference. In the beginning when God created Adam, He made the first man upright, which is to say without sin. Now for some of you this may be a bit confusing, especially if you assume that “sin” is always just an action rather than a state of being.
Notice the difference between these biblical statements:
“See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl 7.29).
The phrase “God made man upright” speaks of status. It was the original state of “uprightness” that our forefather Adam found himself made in, in the beginning. Before the fall we would write the following sentence: Man is upright. However, after his rebellion we are told that he was placed in a different state.
“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5.19; italics added).
Here we see the similar phrase, but in the negative state: “…the many were made sinners.” This speaks of status, not action with “made” being the operable word. Why were “the many made sinners?” Because of Adam’s rebellion. The offspring became like their father (i.e., their representative head). Pay attention to the second half of the verse though, for it is equally important. Those found in the man Jesus Christ (i.e., his offspring) will inherit a different state of being. They will be made “righteous,” or upright.
Back to Luke’s Genealogy
Luke’s emphasis differs from that of Matthew’s primarily in the lineage that he traces ancestry from. For Matthew the focus while predominantly on Abraham and David, did settle on Jesus’ earthly father Joseph, whose own dad was Jacob (Matt 1.16). Luke goes the other route, he begins with Mary’s lineage by identifying her father Heli as the father-in-law of Joseph her betrothed: “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli” (Luke 3.23).
Why is this important? It really goes back to the conception of Jesus. As has already been noted Jesus, like Adam, is of supernatural birth. It was the action of God that brought both of these individuals about.
Importance of the Virgin Birth…
Some argue the importance of the virgin birth in different ways. Theologically, it is of primary importance, because of the doctrine of sin. All natural-born children of Adam are born in the state of sin; we are sinners. The only way to remedy this is for one to come untouched by sin. A lamb in the Tanakh (O.T.) had to be a year old and without spot or blemish. God was very serious about this regulation; anything less was viewed very harshly by Him (see Mal 1.6-2.3).
John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1.29, 36). Not possible if Jesus is a direct descendant of Adam (i.e., natural birth). Thus, we are told that “the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together [as husband and wife] she was found with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt 1.18). Of course, that sounds very strange to our ears. Children are the product of sexual union between opposite genders (male and female).
The first time Mary heard it she was a bit puzzled as well. She said, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1.34). In other words, “how can I have a baby if I haven’t been with a man?” “The angel answered here, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1.35; italics added).
You catch that? The status—state of being—of Mary’s child will be holy (i.e., upright).
Jesus is not from the seed of Adam, but rather from the seed of the woman (Gen 3.15). Adam was made upright, but in rebellion became a sinner. The result was that all of his offspring became sinners and followed in the paths of their father (i.e., sin). However, with the virgin birth we have a distinction provided between Adam and Jesus. Like Adam, Jesus was likewise made upright (i.e., holy) and therefore without sin. Therefore, it is rightly said that Jesus is the son of man and the son of God.
More will be said on this in the future, but for today I would like to wrap up with the following food for thought.
Of David it was that he was “a man after God’s own heart” (1Sam 13.14; Acts 13.22). However, in Jesus of Nazareth, we have one revealed as “the man after God’s own heart.” Unlike David or Abraham or even Adam—though Jesus is the true offspring of each—Jesus never strayed from the Father’s will. Of him it was said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3.17). And because He so perfectly imaged God we are told to “…listen to Him” (Mark 9.7).
To Him, we are told to bow the knee (Php 2.9-10). To Him, we are told to confess “Lord and Savior” (Luke 2.11; cf. Isa 45.21; Hos 13.4). To Him we are told to image, and in His image we—who confess Him and believe—are being conformed (comp. 1 John 2.6; Rom 8.29).
Next time this subject is visited we shall see in what ways David, as God’s man, shadowed Christ Jesus to come…
Image by <a href="http://Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay“>Gordon Johnson
Great post. I was just explaining the reason for the differing genealogies in the Gospels just the other day.
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