In Luke’s birth narrative (Luke 1:4-2:52), Luke demonstrates that whether there is unbelief (the priest Zechariah) or belief (Mary, Elizabeth, Shepherds, Anna, Simeon), the Messiah has arrived who has fulfilled the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. The Forerunner John called the people to repentance and holy living according to the Scriptures (John 3:1-20). Now Messiah Himself arrives on the scene to both inaugurate his ministry with baptism and divine confirmation of his identity and also demonstrate his ancestral claim to Messiahship.
Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 3:21-38 to teach believers that Jesus’ baptism and genealogy confirm him as Messiah, King of Israel and Lord of the Nations.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about Jesus’ baptism and genealogy.
Pray and Read: Luke 3:21-38
1. Jesus’ baptism confirms Him as Messiah (Luke 3:21-23a)
2. Jesus’ genealogy confirms Him as Messiah (Luke 3:23b-38)
Exposition: Note well,
a. Jesus’ baptism marks the beginning of his public ministry. For Luke, the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus signifies his “anointing” as the Messiah and his empowerment to accomplish the task God had set for him (Luke 4:1, 14, 18). The voice from heaven is a divine confirmation that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11).
b. Luke 3:21 – Prayer is an important theme in Luke’s Gospel to watch. Luke portrays Jesus praying at significant points in his ministry: at baptism (Luke 3:21); after cleansing a leper (Luke 5:16), before calling the Twelve (Luke 6:12), before Peter’s confession (Luke 9:18), at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28), before teaching the disciples to pray (Luke 11:1), for Peter to be restored (Luke 22:32); in the Garden (Luke 22:41, 44), for his murderers from the cross (Luke 23:34), and with his last breath (Luke 23:46).
c. As a result, heaven opens, an image common in apocalyptic literature about the end times. The point here is that He is the Revelation and that the Jesus is the fulfillment of all of Scripture.
d. Luke 3:22 – Holy Spirit descended like a dove. Some interpret here a connection with Gen 1:2 and the hovering over the waters, making Jesus part of a New Creation. Others allude to Gen 8:8-12 where Noah’s dove represents God’s deliverance after judgment. Neither interpretation has strong verbal parallels. The main point is that Luke wants us to know that the Lord in Trinitarian fashion has publicly signified that this Jesus is the Messiah, the second person of the Trinity.
e. Luke 3:22 – “You are My Son, whom I love: The voice alludes to Psalm 2:7 (Messiah’s divine sonship and legitimate rule from Zion); Isaiah 42:1 (The faithful Servant is identified as God’s chosen one; and perhaps Gen 22:2, 12, 16 (where Isaac is described as Abraham’s only son, whom you love with Isaac being prophetic of Jesus and Abraham’s willingness to offer his son as prophetic of the Father’s willingness to offer His. If all three allusions are present, Luke is making an extraordinary statement about Jesus’ identity. He is the promised Messiah, who will fulfill the role of the Lord’s suffering Servant through his sacrificial death.
f. APPLICATION: The connections made here between the Old Testament and the Gospel of Luke give us clear confidence that Jesus is the promised Messiah to come whose sacrifice of his life on the Cross and subsequent Resurrection defeated death and brought the fulfillment of the covenants of Abraham and David to fruit. This is the hope of the Gospel, and it is available to all the nations, even you. Will you confess your sin to him and submit your life to this Jesus? He loved you enough to die for you. He is living now, sitting at the right hand of the Father. Will you make him your Lord?
2. JESUS’ GENEALOGY CONFIRMS HIM AS MESSIAH (LUKE 3:23B-38)
a. The genealogy that follows is not just space filler. It fits an important part of Luke’s Gospel to provide further confirmation that Jesus is the Messiah. Remember that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness. Some passages of Scripture are not “more inspired” than others.
b. Literally, verse 23b reads: “And Jesus himself was beginning about thirty years, being son, as was supposed, of Joseph, of the Eli, of the Mattat, of the Levi, etc. If Joseph is the son of Eli, then it contradicts with Matt. 1:16 which says Jacob was the father of Joseph, but both genealogies employ unusual language with respect to Jesus, both asserting that he had no human father in the ordinary sense. Luke distinguishes Joseph from Jesus’ direct ancestry by not including the word “the” before Joseph in the original Greek. By omitting the article, Joseph’s name is separated from the genealogical link and set aside on its own. Luke gives the geneaology of Mary, daughter of Eli, making Jesus the grandson “of the Eli” while Jesus’ relationship with Joseph is portrayed as “son, as supposed,” not actually.
c. What do the genealogies mean? Simply, Matthew’s genealogy is the genealogy of Joseph who was Jesus’ legal father (Luke 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42). Just as in Matthew’s genealogy, Luke traces Jesus’ ancestry back through David and Abraham, confirming that he is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, something we have seen in all the songs and angelic announcements of the birth narrative.
d. But how can Jesus claim David’s throne if he is not descended through the Kingly line of Solomon? Against him is that even if Luke’s genealogy is Mary’s and goes back to David, royal descent is not counted through the mother. If Jesus is not Joseph’s physical father, even if legally adopted, cannot satisfy 2 Sam 7:12’s promise to David. No?
e. First of all, inheritance could be passed through the mother under the Law as long as the daughter married within the bloodline (the daughters of Zelophehad, Num 27; 36:6-7). Mary did marry within the bloodline of Judah, of David, and possibly Jacob and Heli were brothers as well.
f. Second, we do know from the field of medicine the natural processes involved in fertilization cause the father’s mitochondrial DNA never to be passed on to his children. Mitochondrial DNA are passed only through the female from one generation to the next. Mitochondria enable the body to aerobically respirate and without mitochondria, human tissue would be unable to sustain its metabolic pathway – without the mother’s mitochondria, the new person’s tissue would produce so much heat that it would boil. Unless the Lord overruled this process then, Jesus carried Holy-Spirit-overshadowed, human mitochondrial DNA – what the theologians call human nature – from his mother.
g. So – did Jesus have Mary’s DNA, her genetic data? The short answer is yes, he did. There are two reasons. One is scientific. The more important one is Scriptural. He not only fulfilled 2 Sam 7:12, but also Gen 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring (seed) and her Offspring (seed); He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel.” Paul explains in Galatians 3:16, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ.” Galatians 4:4 “But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to the regulations of the Law.”
h. Jesus is the seed of Abraham through whom all nations on earth will be blessed and the seed of David who will reign forever on Israel’s throne. Yet there are differences with Matthew’s genealogy (Matt. 1). Matthew’s begins with Abraham. Luke goes all the way back to Adam, pointing to Luke’s point that Jesus is for all the nations, not just Israel.
i. Luke 3:23 – Thirty was viewed in Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures as an appropriate age to enter public service. Priests began their work at age 30 (Num 4:3). Joseph enter Pharaoh’s service at age 30 (Gen 41:46). Ezekiel was called as a prophet at age 30 (Ezek. 1:1). More significantly, David began his reign at age 30 (2 Sam 5:4), following in his father David’s steps.
j. Zerubbabel (Luke 3:27) – was appointed governor of Judea by the Persians after the Exile. He supervised the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 3:2, 8) and was exhorted by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to finish the rebuilding (Hag 1:1-15; Zech 4:6-10). He shows up in both the Matthean and Lukan genealogies.
k. Luke 3:31 - Nathan, son of David – The third son of David, born at Jerusalem (1 Sam 5:14). Mary is descended through him.
l. Luke 3:38 - The son of Adam, the son of God – Adam being the “son of God” means that he was directly created by God and not born of another person. There is an implicit comparison to Jesus, too. The first son of God failed in obedience to God. The true Son of God will succeed when tested (Luke 4:1-13).
m. APPLICATION: Jesus is the Messiah promised to Israel and the Jews, and the genealogy (that at first seems out of place, but in reality is placed exactly where Luke wants it to prove Messiah’s identity) is further evidence, corroborated with Matthew to the public Jewish synagogue records of the day. Any rabbi could have easily disputed Jesus’ identity based on their own public genealogical tables, but none did. Jesus is the son of David and the son of Abraham. What does this mean to you? It means He is the Promised One on whom the Hope of the Nations rests. Embrace Him as the One who saves you from your sins. Submit to Him as the Sovereign God who rules all. Hail Him as the King of the Nations. Receive Him as Lord.