“As he began his ministry, Jesus was about thirty years old and was thought to be the son of Joseph, son of Heli…son of Adam, son of God.”-Luke 3:23, 38
You probably don’t have many Christmas memories of gathering with your family to read Luke’s genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-28). That’s because somehow a list of 77 names just doesn’t feel very Christmas-y. In my opinion genealogies get a bad wrap, so let’s get Luke 3:23-38 back into the Christmas rotation.
Luke includes his genealogy of Jesus between Jesus’s baptism and his temptation, right at the beginning of his ministry. This might seem like an odd place, but Luke has important reasons for putting it there. The key takeaways from Luke’s genealogy are seen in its placement and uniqueness.
1. Luke winks at the virgin birth of Jesus in his wording in verse 23, “[Jesus] was thought to be the son of Joseph…” Luke acknowledges that people thought Joseph was Jesus’s father, but the reader already knows he was not (see, it is Christmas-y). The genealogy is therefore a legal lineage, not physical.
2. Luke’s genealogy runs backward from Jesus, though David and Abraham, all the way to Adam. This emphasizes Jesus’s connection to all of humanity. In other words, Jesus is related to all of us. Luke wants to show that Jesus is qualified to be our representative. We might feel far from Jesus, especially when we focus on our sin or our pain, but don’t forget that he is related to every person. He truly is God with us.
3. Jesus represents all of humanity as our savior. Luke’s genealogy shows us that Jesus fulfills the promises of God to David and Abraham for the sake of all of humanity. Jesus is not the savior merely of Israel, but of the Gentiles as well. Yes, he is the promised Davidic king, and yes, he is the seed of Abraham. But he is the Messiah for every tribe, tongue, and nation. Here we find a reminder of the global significance of Jesus’s birth.
4. Luke’s genealogy uniquely uses the phrase “son of God” when describing Adam. This is no mistake. Luke refers to Adam as the son of God, but just one verse before the genealogy in Luke 3:22 the Father calls Jesus his beloved Son. Luke here connects Jesus with Adam much in the way Paul does in Romans 5:12-21: Jesus is the better Adam. This is made clear in the next few verses after the genealogy where Jesus goes to be tempted in the wilderness. Where Adam, the first son of God failed, Jesus the Son of God succeeds. The Second Adam is our sure hope for forgiveness and restoration, and that’s one more reason to celebrate his birth, far as the curse is found!