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The Baptism Of Jesus -- Luke 3:1-42.3.22
“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the Word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased”- Luke 3:1-42.3.22.
This passage brings before us the baptism of John, the baptism to which our blessed Lord Himself submitted.
Perhaps there is no person portrayed by the pen of inspiration less understood than John the Baptist. Our Lord Jesus said of him that of all those born of women there had never been a greater than he, but yet he that is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. He stood at the door inviting people to enter. He never got in himself. He did not belong to the new dispensation in its fulness, but he showed the way to others; so in the sense of privilege, those who are in the kingdom of heaven are greater than he. But Jesus said that of all the prophets none was greater than John. Abraham was not greater. Moses was not greater; David was not; neither were Isaiah nor Jeremiah greater. John the Baptist in some way outshone them all. He was chosen by the Spirit of God to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and to seek to bring men and women to an attitude of soul where they would be ready to receive the Saviour when He appeared before them.
In telling the story, Luke is very specific. He writes as a careful historian. He gives us dates that any readers of his own time would have been able to verify, and that we ourselves to some extent are able to verify today. He tells us exactly when John the Baptist began his ministry. It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberious Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod, tetrarch of Galilee. This was a grandson of the infamous Herod who was responsible for the slaughter of the babes in Bethlehem. His brother Philip was tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias was the tetrarch of Abilene. John got into trouble later on because of the fact that Herod lured away his brother Philip’s wife, and took her to himself. Then we are told that Annas and Caiaphas were high-priests in Judaea. We might ask, According to the Old Testament Scriptures how could there be two high-priests? There was to be only one high-priest at a time and then he was to be succeeded by his son. But at this time everything was out of order and the high-priesthood was a political plum bought and sold by the Roman conquerors who gave the office to the highest bidder. Annas was retired later on, and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, had the position. But they were both recognized as high-priests.
It was at this time, when Israel was in dire confusion, that the Word of God came to John the Baptist. Thirty years or more had gone by since his birth. We know nothing of his early training. We are not given any particulars as to how the Lord made Himself known to him, and gave him to realize that he was appointed to be the herald of the coming of the Saviour. Evidently for sometime he had been dwelling in the wilderness. Many of God’s servants had graduated from the university of the wilderness! Moses was given a post-graduate course there for forty years. Much of David’s training was given him in the wilderness. Take Elijah the Prophet-what lessons he had to learn out in the desert! And our blessed Saviour Himself spent forty days in the wilderness of Quarantana.
John the Baptist suddenly appeared in the region around Jordan, and we are told he was preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. He was not telling people that if they would be baptized their sins would be remitted. There is no such doctrine as that in Scripture. When we read of being baptized for the remission of sins it means that by baptism one confesses that he deserves to die. When John the Baptist called upon the people to be baptized confessing their sins, he was telling them that they were lost, that they deserved to die, that they could not make atonement for their own sins; but he told them of One who could. Some people imagine that John knew nothing of the grace of God. They forget that his real message was this: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Who said that? John the Baptist. That is the gospel of the grace of God. Did John the Baptist preach the gospel? Yes! He told men that only through the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, would their sins be remitted. He stood there in the Jordan valley and he drove home to the people their sins. We are told that those who believed his words justified God, and were baptized of him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. Their baptism was the outward acknowledgment of their lost condition. All this was in accordance with prophecy. We are referred to Chapter 40 of Isaiah where God says, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God.” The prophet looks up and asks, “How will I comfort them?” The voice of God says, “Cry that all flesh is grass and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.” If God is going to comfort men they must first own their utter good-for-nothingness in His sight. To bolster men up in their own self-righteousness by trying to make them believe they have ability in themselves whereby they may save their own souls, is simply misleading men, and those who so preach will be responsible for soul-murder. The true servant of God is to put before men their lost condition in order that they may see their need of a Saviour. So Isaiah tells us that one was coming into the world with a message like this: “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” There is beautiful poetry in the Bible. He means that God’s messenger was to go forth before the face of the coming Messiah as a leveler, to bring all men to one common plane, the recognition of their sinnership: “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” John was to bring this to the hearts and consciences of Israel in order that they might realize how badly they needed the Saviour who was about to come.
“Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” In the great audience he saw many who were really unreal. They were there sight-seeing. They had heard of the strange, weird, desert-preacher, and they wanted to find out what he was doing. So John turned to them and said, “All of you who have never been born of God, who are not honest with God, and do not want to be honest with God, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” John says, “If you profess to be the people of God evidence this in your lives. Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.” Do not misunderstand me. He was not saying they could be saved by anything they might do. They were in the place of covenant relationship with God. They professed to be the seed of Abraham, and yet their lives were bringing disrepute upon the very name they bore. Whatever you profess to be, evidence it in your lives. Repent. What is repentance? It is self-judgment. It is a complete change of mind and attitude. If you have repented, if you have faced your sins before God, if you know deliverance from them as shown by new lives, you are a truly repentant people. Do not fall back on natural relationship. It would be a small thing for God to raise up children from the stones unto Abraham. The mere fact that you are Israelites does not mean that you are children of God. It is just another way of saying what Jesus said to Nicodemus later on, “You must be born again.”
Then John adds, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” In many places today you will hear beautiful, eloquent sermons that really would amount to this: “The axe is laid to the fruit of the tree.” In other words, men are told, “Give up your bad ways. Give up your evil behavior. Everything will be all right and you will be saved by reformation. You will be saved by ethical culture. You will be saved by character. That’s all you need.” Imagine an orchardist trying to make a bad tree produce good fruit by cutting off all the imperfect fruit! The next crop will be just more bad fruit. The more you keep cutting it off the more bad fruit there will be. It won’t change the nature of the tree at all. The apple-tree isn’t an apple-tree because it bears eatable apples. It bears good apples because it is a good apple-tree. A crab-apple tree isn’t bad because it bears crab-apples. It bears crab-apples because it is a crab-apple tree. A man isn’t a sinner because he sins. He sins because he is a sinner. That’s the trouble with him. That’s why he needs to be born again. That’s why John the Baptist came saying, “Cut it down completely. Let there be a new thing altogether.” The axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that beareth not good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Nothing you can do as a natural man will enable you to bring forth fruit to God. The apostle Paul preached the same doctrine that John the Baptist preached. He told the Ephesian elders that throughout his ministry. He preached “repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Repentance means that the natural man takes God’s side against himself. God says, “All have sinned.” Man says, “I’m not a sinner.” The penitent confesses he is a sinner. He acknowledges his sin. He confesses his guilt. There is a Saviour for sinners. That’s the gospel. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” But it is only the repentant one who cares anything about his Saviour.
When men do not realize their lost condition, they do not care. But when the Holy Spirit of God awakens a man to see his need, he is ready for Christ. When John the Baptist’s ministry takes effect, and when men realize the axe is laid to the root of the tree, and they come down before God and take sides with God, they say, “Tell me about the Saviour,” and then the further message of John the Baptist fits in, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
When John saw the people were repentant he baptized them and they confessed their sins. He expected them, however, to give some evidence of their sincerity. “If you have two coats look around for a fellow who doesn’t have one, and if you have more food than you need, divide with somebody else.” There are many professing Christians who could not stand that test. One evidence that a man is truly repentant toward God is that he has real concern for his fellow-men who are in worse circumstances than he is himself. So John says, “Show yourself by your concern for others. To the publicans, that is, the tax-collectors, who inquired, “What shall we do?” He said, “You be careful now. Don’t you gouge the people. Don’t you take any more than you should-exact no more than is appointed you.” That would be the evidence of a repentant tax-collector. Even Roman soldiers came to John asking, “What shall we do?” He replied, “Don’t swagger so much, and don’t act as if you are so important. Don’t trample on the rights of any man! Do violence to no man! Serve your country, and try and let it go at that. Don’t lord it over other folks.” Understand, not as a means of salvation, but as an evidence of repentance. This would show that they were genuine.
The people were greatly interested and they wondered whether John himself might be the promised Messiah, but he said, “No, I am not He. I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost,” or, He is going to baptize you with fire. Do not make the mistake that some people do-as though the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost are the same thing. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is something which every believer enters into, but the baptism of fire is the baptism of judgment which all men must know who reject the salvation that God has provided. See what he says about that: “He will truly purge His floor. He will gather the wheat into His garner”-that is the redeemed- “but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire”-those are the unreal.
Herod heard about this. He wanted to see the strange desert-preacher. We are told he sent for him and he liked to hear John talk. There was something about that earnest man that appealed to the poor, wretched, godless Herod, and he was stirred. But when John spoke out plainly concerning Herod’s adulterous relation with his brother’s wife, Herod was angry. John said, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” Herod said, “I didn’t ask you to come and tell me how to live. I don’t believe in preachers interfering in personal affairs. Keep out of this.” But John refused to keep out of it. Herod said, “Off to jail with you,” and that was the end of John the Baptist, so far as his ministry was concerned. Herod liked to hear him preach as long as he did not touch the sin of Herod’s own life. There are many people like that. They can enjoy fervent, earnest preaching as long as it is directed to somebody else, but when it comes home to them it is too personal. They don’t like it.
Before John was put into prison something very important happened. When all the people were baptized it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized. He came to John, and He stepped down to the waters of Jordan. John drew back as he recognized Him, and said, as it were, “I cannot baptize you in repentance. You have nothing to repent of. I have need to be baptized by you.” But Jesus replied, in effect, “John, you baptize Me. I know that I am not a sinner, but I see these sinners being baptized, and I am going to take My place with them. I am here today to pledge Myself to fulfil every righteous demand of the throne of God on their behalf.” It was His pledge to go to the cross and die for sinners. So John baptized Him. When I see my Lord going down into Jordan I say, “There He is promising to go to the cross and die for me.” He came forth from the waters, and the Spirit descended like a dove upon Him, and a voice was heard saying, “Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.”
At the very time when He had pledged Himself to fulfil all righteousness on behalf of sinners which involved His being made sin for them God the Father signified His delight in Him and declared Him to be the Holy One who glorified Him in all His ways.
The Genealogy Of Jesus -- Luke 3:23-42.3.38
“And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son’of Eliakim, which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God”- Luke 3:23-42.3.38.
We come now to consider the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who read their Bibles with any degree of care have often noticed the two genealogies of the Saviour- the one given in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, introducing the New Testament record, and the other given here in the third chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
In the Old Testament we have a great many genealogical tables. In the Book of Genesis we have ten of them, and in other Old Testament books, notably First Chronicles, we have a great many. God had a purpose in preserving these lists. They may not seem very interesting to us. Oftentimes those of us who read our Bibles through regularly year by year, are tempted to pass them over as of no real spiritual value, and yet every little while we find some bright jewel flashing out in the midst of a chapter of the utmost unpronounceable names for some of us. We may be sure there was a very special purpose for preserving them, and it was this: God had said, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the peoples be.” Shiloh is a name for our Lord, Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah, the Prince of Peace, for Shiloh means “peace.” And God saw to it that the genealogical tables were preserved from Adam right on down through Abraham and on to David, and then from David to the coming into the world of our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that His title to the throne of David might be definitely-proven.
Now there are those who reject the Saviour as the Messiah, as many for instance in Israel do, who are still looking for a Messiah, and expect that sometime, perhaps very soon, perhaps in the more distant future, the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of Jehovah’s Anointed into the world will have their fulfilment. If Jesus is not the Messiah there are no records left whereby it would be possible for them to trace out the genealogy of any one who might come in the future professing to be the true Son of David, who was destined to fulfil the promises made to the people of Israel and to rule over the Gentile world. There is no way now by which they could prove that any future Messiah was really the promised Saviour. The genealogies have all been lost. We have nothing beyond that which is given us here in the Bible. After the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ no other records were preserved that would enable anyone to trace out the genealogy of a future Son of David, if He were yet to arise. So God had a special reason for preserving the genealogical lists until His Son should actually be born into the world of a virgin, as predicted. After that there was no special reason to keep the records, so they were lost.
When you turn back to Matthew’s Gospel you find that Joseph is the son of a man named Jacob, not Heli; and from Heli back to David you have an altogether different line from what you get in Matthew. Surely here is a contradiction in the Bible! Surely this proves that, after all, the Bible cannot really be inspired of God, that it only consists of mere human records and it is not trustworthy! That’s the way men have reasoned. When we look into it carefully I think the mystery is cleared up. It is remarkable that God has preserved the key to the mystery in the last book on earth in which we might have expected to find it.
After the fall of Jerusalem, the Jews, in order to keep before their people the great teachings of the past, combined many things in a series of volumes called “The Talmud,” and today the orthodox Jews give far more attention to the study of the Talmud than they do to the Holy Scriptures themselves, though I was very glad to see in a Jewish magazine that some of the leading rabbis of this country are urging the Jewish soldiers to familiarize themselves with the Old Testament, to read it carefully. We rejoice in this because we know that if people read the Old Testament carefully and thoughtfully, many of them will be brought to the Light of the New Testament. The Old Testament points people to the Christ revealed in the New Testament. In the Jewish Talmud, written just a few years after the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are told £hat Jesus was the illegitimate son of Mary of Bethlehem, the daughter of Heli. That clears the mystery for us here.
Women’s names are dropped out of this genealogy, but here we are told that Joseph was the son of Heli. This genealogy then is clearly the genealogy of Mary. Heli was the father of Mary, and Joseph by marrying Mary became the son of Heli. Married folks have two sets of fathers and mothers, do they not? You husbands speak of the bride’s parents as father and mother, and the bride speaks of the husband’s parents as father and mother. So it was in the old days in Israel. When a man married a maiden of a certain family, her father and mother were recognized as his father and mother. So Joseph was actually the son of Jacob, but through marriage to Mary he was the son of Heli, and Mary herself was the daughter of the house of David.
The reason for giving us the two genealogies seems to be this: In the first chapter of Matthew we have the genealogy of the King. Matthew deals particularly with the Messiahship of Jesus. It was written to prove that He was the promised King of Israel. Joseph, who married Mary before the actual birth of Jesus and took her under his protecting care, was himself lineally descended from David, through King Solomon; and had conditions been right in Israel, Joseph possibly would have sat upon David’s throne. Instead of being Joseph, the carpenter, he would have been Joseph, the King of the Jews, but on account of the failure and sin that had come in, David’s family had been set to one side and, we find, were in very poor circumstances. Nevertheless, the royal line ran on as God saw it, and Joseph was the last of the royal line of David, and by marrying Mary, her son Jesus, being born after she entered into wedlock, became the legal heir to the throne of David. That’s why we have this genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew-to prove that Jesus is the legal heir to the throne of David.
The blood of Joseph did not run in the veins of Jesus, and according to the prophets, the Messiah Himself is to actually come through David’s line. He is to be the Son of the house of David. He is called David’s Son. Luke shows that this too was fulfilled, for we find as we go down through this genealogy that Heli, the father of Mary, came from a Davidic line, but the line through which she came was that of another son of David. Heli was a lineal descendant of David’s son, Nathan. So the blood of David flowed in Mary’s veins. Therefore, when our Lord Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary and born of her, he was actually a son of David. Do I say a son of David? He was the Son of David, the One who transcended every other, the One who is to confirm the sure mercies of David, and bring in everlasting blessing for the world- “Great David’s greater Son!”
So God has been very careful here to give us these two genealogical lists, to show us that the Lord Jesus is the rightful King. Through Joseph He is entitled to the throne, and then through Mary He is an actual Son of David. There are no mistakes in God’s books. We may often come across things in the Bible that we find difficult to understand, but we can be very sure of this: If we only had a little added information, if we only had fuller knowledge, God’s Word would always be shown to be right. There are no mistakes here. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-55.3.17).
You remember, back in the Book of Psalms, the Lord speaks of one particular Person that would be before Him, He said, “It shall be said, This and that man was born in her, but the Lord shall count, when He writeth up the people, that this Man was born there,” and this Man is God’s Messiah, the Saviour of Israel and of the world.
When we come to look at these two genealogical lists as given in Matthew and Luke we are at once struck by their differences, and many have supposed that the one is contradictory of the other. In Matthew’s Gospel we have a list beginning with Abraham and culminating in Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus. We read, in the very opening of Matthew’s Gospel of the generations of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. Now, Matthew is the Jewish Gospel. Do not misunderstand me when I say that. I do not mean that it has no word of authority for the Gentiles, but I mean that it was written specifically for the Jewish people in order to prove to them that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. The Messiah was to be the Seed of Abraham, through whom all nations of the earth should be blessed, and He was to come in the direct line of David. So in this first chapter we have the generations of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham, and beginning with Abraham we go right on to Joseph. In verse Luke 3:16 we read: “And Jacob (that is, Joseph’s father,) begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Then the Scriptures carefully show us that Mary was already with child by the Holy Spirit before Joseph gave her the protection of his name and took her to be his wife. This table in Matthew’s Gospel is definitely the genealogy of Joseph. It gives us the line from Abraham to Joseph. It is divided into three parts of fourteen generations each. Actually, when you go back to the Old Testament you find that there were quite a number of other names that came in along the way, but for certain reasons God dropped out various ones. He dropped out three kings of Judah because they came of the race of that vile woman Jezebel. For other reasons He dropped different ones out of the list, and He focuses our attention on three groups of fourteen each.
In the last instance, however, we seem at first sight to have only thirteen names. We read in verse Luke 3:17: “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” Notice again in the 16th verse: “Jacob begat Joseph.” That’s the twelfth generation. “The husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus”-that’s the thirteenth generation. “Who is called Christ”-that’s the fourteenth generation, for when He comes the second time He will be recognized as the Christ, the Messiah of Israel.
In this list given by Matthew we have four women referred to beside Mary herself. Ordinarily it was not customary for the Jews to include any reference to women in their genealogies, and the four women mentioned in this list are the very four which one who was jealous of the purity of the Hebrew strain would have left out. There was Tamar, whose history was one of the most wretched stories in the Bible. There was Rahab, the harlot of Jericho. There was Ruth, a Moabitess, outside the covenant of promise altogether. There was Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah, with whom David sinned so grievously. Why are these four women’s names listed here? Surely to show us that “where sin abounded grace did much more abound!” All of these women, three of whom were great sinners, are found in the line from which our Saviour came. The other one was an outcast and a stranger of Moab, of whom the Lord had said, “The Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the Lord unto the tenth generation.” This outcast is brought in to tell us that Jesus is not only the Messiah of Israel, but He is the Saviour of all sinners, of all nations who will put their trust in Him.
Now, when we turn over to the Gospel of Luke and we look at the genealogy there, we find it is quite different. “Jesus began to be about thirty years of age.” A Levite was thirty years of age when he began to serve. With our Lord Jesus it presents a new dispensation. He has now reached the age when He is about to enter upon His public ministry, “being as was supposed, the son of Jeseph.” Notice that Luke has been very careful in the previous chapters to show us that the Lord Jesus was not the son of Joseph, that He had no human father. On the other hand, he recognizes that people supposed that He was the son of Joseph. So he mentions that here. Joseph, he says, was the son of Heli.
I said earlier that Matthew wrote especially for the Jews; therefore the genealogy tracing Christ from Abraham down-from Abraham and Solomon to Joseph.
Luke wrote for the Gentile world, and he is concerned not simply in proving that Jesus is the Son of David, nor yet that He is the Seed of Abraham, with all that implies, but He also undertakes to show that He has become, in grace, one with the entire human race. He is the Son of Man, and so the genealogy is traced back not to David or Abraham, but to Adam himself, and from Adam to God.
The Scriptures speak of the first man-Adam. There have been those who have suggested that there might have been some pre-Adamic race in this world, but God’s Word says, “The first man, Adam, was made a living soul.” Adam was not born into the world. He was created. God fashioned his body of the dust of the earth. Do you really believe that? I believe it, and in any case-if it was not in the Bible-I would believe it because of the fact that when the body dies it goes back to dust again. God took from the dust of the earth and formed the body of a man, and then God breathed into that man the breath of the spirit of life, and man became a living soul. So Adam could be called, in this sense, the son of God. God is the Father of spirits, “the God of the spirits of all flesh.” There is a sense in which it is perfectly right to speak of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. There is another sense in which it is wrong. As created originally, Adam was the son of God. God was his Father by creation, but sin came in and man became alienated from God. All men are now born in sin. There is a universal brotherhood of man, but it is a brotherhood of sinners. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” When people are born again, when they are regenerated, then they enter into a new relationship. They are in a new sense the children of God. God is their Father, and they that believe are all brethren in Christ. The heathen had the conception of man coming originally from God. They said, you remember, in the poem that Paul quoted, on Mars’ hill-“We are also His offspring.” But oh, how man has dishonored God. How far away we have gotten from Him! Therefore the need of regeneration.
It is not for us today to pride ourselves on being children of God by natural birth and to claim God as our Father simply by creation. We are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in us. In order now to be able to look up to heaven and call God our Father and in order to enter the new brotherhood that has been established by grace, we must be born again. How does that new birth take place? We are told of our Lord Jesus, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not; but as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name, which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” It is when we receive Christ, when we trust Him as our Saviour, that we become children of God. This does not mean that we are put back to the place that Adam was in before his fall-created in righteousness, created in innocence he fell into sin. In the old creation he was put to the test, and when he went down the whole creation went down with him. But now Christ, the last Adam, has met all the claims that God had against sinful men by His sacrifice on Calvary. He has been raised in triumph from the dead, and He has become the head of a new race, a new creation. Those who put their trust in Him are not put on trial as Adam was before he sinned, but they are now raised up together and seated together in Christ, in heavenly places. This is our glorious calling, and so for us there is no interest except an academic one in the matters of genealogy.
We are told in 1 Timothy 1:4: “Neither give heed to… genealogies.” We do not base anything on our earthly genealogy. We rest everything on the fact that we have been regenerated by the Word and Spirit of God. God has preserved the genealogies of His Son in order that we may have a clear and faithful record, and see His identification with David and Abraham, and with Adam as the Son of Man who has “come to seek and to save that which was lost;” as the Seed of Abraham, through whom all nations of the earth shall be blessed; as the Son of David, who shall yet sit upon the throne of His father David and reign in righteousness over all this universe when it has been turned back to God. How we can thank Him for the perfection of His Holy Word!
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Luke 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany