Luke 3: 21 – 38 The baptism and genealogy of Jesus

Luke 3: 21 – 38 The baptism and genealogy of Jesus

When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’

*       *       *

Luke 3:3 says that John “went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Luke 3:21 says “Jesus was baptised too.” But Jesus was sinless; he didn’t need baptism. St Matthew’s gospel explains this by saying, in Matthew 3:14 – 15, “But John tried to deter him, saying ‘I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me? Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then John consented.”

St Luke, though, is more concerned to show how the baptism of Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit. For him, the baptism of Jesus was not about repentance; it was the forerunner of the church’s understanding of baptism. When a Christian is baptised, they are filled with the Holy Spirit just as Jesus was in his baptism.

*       *       *

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias the son of Semein, the son of Josek, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubabbel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

*       *       *

Well, what’s this all about? A great list of names that purports to trace the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Adam, the first man. Would it really have been possible to construct such a list accurately?

Jewish priests certainly kept detailed records of heredity, which could have enabled the tracing of a family back many generations. Certainly, too, the list contains King David; the royal lineage would have been more likely to be preserved.

The really big difficulty with this lineage, though, is that it doesn’t agree at all with that given in St Matthew’s gospel.

These differences can be ‘explained’. Perhaps St Matthew gives us Joseph’s lineage, and St Luke gives us Mary’s. Or perhaps Matthew quotes the official royal line while St Luke quotes the physical line. Or perhaps Joseph was adopted by Mary’s father, if he had no brothers or sons and his name was therefore going to die out.

I don’t know the truth of any of these conjectures. My own personal feeling is that neither genealogy is a true record of the physical lineage of Jesus, but I could easily be wrong.

And that doesn’t matter to me. What this genealogy tells me is that Jesus is a human being, descended from other human beings. Tracing the line back to Adam says that Jesus represents the whole of humanity.


Heavenly Father

Thank you that Jesus was fully human, and knows first-hand what it is like to live a mortal life on this earth. Thank you that through the power of the Holy Spirit we can all know him and love him.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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