23 As he began his ministry, Jesus was about thirty years old and was thought to be the son of Joseph, son of Heli, 24 son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph, 25 son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai, 26 son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda, 27 son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Neri, 28 son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er, 29 son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi, 30 son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim, 31 son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David, 32 son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Salmon, son of Nahshon, 33 son of Amminadab, son of Ram, son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah, 34 son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor, 35 son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah, 36 son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech, 37 son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalalel, son of Cainan, 38 son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.
Genealogies are often considered “difficult passages,” not because they are difficult to understand, but rather because they are not, on the face of it, all that interesting. How do you engage an audience with a list of names?
Fortunately, as Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” If genealogies are in the Bible, then they are useful for these purposes.
The Bible regularly teaches us about God’s providence. The timing and place of Jesus’ birth and work were not accidental. The world in His day had been “Greekified,” resulting in a common language and extensive trade routes that provided a perfect context for the spread of the gospel.
Luke traced the lineage of Jesus all the way back to God through Adam, first to highlight Jesus’ deity, and second, to show the universal extent of Jesus’ mission. The Messiah did not just come to save the offspring of Abraham. Instead, His redemption was designed to extend to all humanity. We must never limit the reach of God’s kingdom in our own ministry efforts.
This genealogy also corrects any idea we might have that mundane things don’t matter. Not everyone on this list was a famous hero of Israel. Yet each of them played an important role in bringing about the Savior of the world. God often works through simple things and simple people to accomplish His eternal purposes.
Even though our names aren’t in this list, through Jesus we are given the right to be God’s children by believing on His name (John 1). The genealogy is full of sinners who transgressed God’s law and often did not reflect God’s character, but despite their failings, we can see a thread of obedience that ultimately led to the birth of Jesus.
God’s providence is still at work now in ways we can’t even imagine. How is your simple obedience going to become a part of God’s grander work of expanding our kingdom family? Be faithful; be obedient; be like Jesus.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How does one become “like Jesus?” The Bible indicates that spiritual fruit comes from the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). What practices are you engaging in right now to become more aware of and sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life?
- We are commanded to make disciples by going to the nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all Jesus commanded. As you learn to obey in your own life, you will be better able to teach others to obey. Begin praying for those whom you might teach to be like Jesus.
- An interesting and hopefully edifying exercise would be to examine the stories of those in Jesus’ genealogy. Practice using your concordance and cross-references (or your favorite Bible Dictionary/Encyclopedia) to learn more about these people.
Plan to pray regularly for persecuted brothers and sisters in the church around the world in 2021. Ask God to help you think more often of the global church this year.