The Genealogy of Jesus
Testifying to God’s covenant faithfulness.
This is the first devotional in Ministry to State's Advent series: The Politics of Christmas
Genealogies in the Bible provide us with more than just a list of names. They tell us more than mere bloodlines and parentage. They do more than communicate generational facts. They tell a story.
Genealogies tell us about the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the person addressed. They are a testament to God’s covenant faithfulness.
The only two Gospels to feature a genealogy are Matthew and Luke. This makes sense since both gospels (unlike Mark and John) feature a nativity story. But whereas Matthew places his genealogy at the beginning of his gospel, Luke places it at the end of the third chapter. By the time he lists Jesus’ genealogy, Luke has already retold Mary’s Magnificat, Zechariah’s prophecy, Caesar’s decree, the visiting angels and shepherds, and Jesus’ baptism by his cousin John. What is more, Luke traces Jesus’ lineage back to Adam as the first “Son of God.”
By doing this, Luke is trying to capture our attention. He is trying to tell us that there is something special about Jesus and the work he came to accomplish. By taking Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam, Luke is telling us that we have a new older brother.
It was through the first Adam that sin, misery, and death came into the world. Disobedience and rebellion against God brought about all manner of suffering. And it was until the first Advent - until the coming of Jesus - that we were all held captive under Adam’s curse. In sin and darkness, he was our brother, the one with whom we shared a lineage.
But it was within this darkness that the light of the world was born. A birth that was sung about by his mother and foretold by the prophets of old. Caesar unwittingly helped fulfill those prophecies and the angels marveled at the way this curse was at long last being reversed. A tiny glimmer of light shining upon those once cursed.
Among the many things Advent celebrates is the coming of the Son of God to be our new older brother. He who is the firstfruits of the new creation has won for us an inheritance that comes to us as we are released from the chains of Adam’s sin; our sin.
Genealogies tell us more than genetics; they tell us about an inheritance. This genealogy in Luke is no different. This genealogy tells us who we are and what our rights and privileges are. It is this good news we have to tell the world. There is a new older brother in the world and he wants us to share in his genealogy.
Will Stockdale is a Ministry Associate and co-host of The Will & Rob Show.