Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
(1/21) Now if you have been skimming ahead, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. The genealogy, the page of the phone book that made it into Luke’s Gospel. You’ve been waiting, anticipating it for weeks, just saying, "I can’t wait for that message. Seventy-six names, thirty-eight of which I can’t find anywhere in my Bible. Names I can’t
even pronounce... I can’t wait."
Well, if that’s you, today’s your day. We’re going to look at Luke 3:23-38, the genealogy of Jesus, a page out of an ancient phone book. And we begin with the assumption that everything in the Bible is from God and for our good. So we come with the expectation that there’s a little gold in there if we just dig for it. And I think there’s a lot there
One of the reasons why we tend not to get totally excited about genealogies is because they’re dead. As Christians we don’t even pray for the dead, because their destiny is sealed. Purgatory is a lie and Jesus said, I’m paraphrasing, "A great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to cross over from here to there cannot (Luke 16:26).
Another is that we live in a world that is culturally distinct and removed from the days of the Scriptures. In that day, you lived on the piece of land that your ancestors did. The Bible talks about boundary markers between different families, kin, and clan.
It’s the same thing in the countryside around here, there are stone walls, literally
stones stacked one on top of the other like the days of the Old Testament. And these were boundary markers between families as they cleared their lots. So on that side of the wall is your family’s land and on this side is my family’s land. And some of these walls had been there for hundreds of years, these boundary markers. And so you would live where
your parents lived, where your grandparents lived, where your great-grandparents lived, where your great, great, great-grandparents had lived. So the expectation was that your great, great, great-grandchildren would one day live in that land as well.
Not only that but the family would oftentimes share a trade. So if your daddy was a blacksmith, you were a blacksmith. If your daddy was a farmer, you were a farmer. So there was this deep historical connectedness between generations. And so tracing your ancestry and history was very important. It was very much an establishing part of your identity.
This was true up until, in large part, the modern era.
René Descartes came out with this philosophical Latin statement in 1644, "I think therefore I am."
And it’s about me and not we; it’s about I and not us. It’s about the individual and it’s not about the family, the kin, the clan, and the tribe. So individualism kicks in, and then there’s urbanization. People leave their family’s and they go into the cities, and then there’s modern travel and there’s war and educational and travel opportunities, and
so there is this fracturing of the family and divorce.
Millions now believe in things other than a God-centered story of family and mankind that inspires visions of a greater good and a commitment to others. Amidst conflicting arguments about history, science and religion there are dreams of liberation smoldering and stirring people to rise above their own turf and strike out. This era’s individualism
offers a motto that everyone can believably claim: "I’m the one who’s been wronged." And we’ve become a self-obsessed, entitled society, of spoiled individuals with unlimited online data, unlimited consumer options, unlimited technological expectations, and a smorgasbord… a buffet… of glamour and choices that stimulate us to exhaustion or even boredom with life.
And you know in the last fifty years not much has changed… and in December 1967, a few months before his demise in Memphis, Martin Luther King Jr. preached these timeless words:
"No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world… Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools."
The result of this self-entitled individualism is that people are scattered. And you don’t have a deep historical connection to a people or a place. For some, it leads to psychological displacement… A lack of identity... And some people don’t even know their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. I believe that’s why there’s a
resurgence on television for reality shows. People just want to know family that they’ve never met, they want to know something that’s real, and so there are whole shows dedicated to bringing a sense of reality to people who lives are often just broken and fragmented.
Of course not every broken family is necessarily a bad family. There are good reasons to relocate. Abraham’s family is one example. You’ll hear of him mentioned in the genealogy of Luke’s Gospel. God came to Abram and told him, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). He says,
"You’re going to start a new family and things are going to change in your legacy and lineage through your faithfulness and your faith in me."
Your family may have a similar story. Sometimes I wonder where are my people… where is our history… and what was our land like. And I think that’s been the case historically. So there’s this longing in our fragmented moveable world to be connected, rooted, to a people and to a place. And what Luke’s genealogy does is it helps us connect to a people and
1. What we can learn.
As we read Luke’s genealogy, we find that it’s connecting Jesus to people in places, to generations, and to historical establishments, traditions, or foundations. And we learn from genealogies in the Bible in general and the genealogy of Luke in particular, that sometimes the biggest contribution that you make is not your contribution at all, but it’s
the legacy and lineage of faith that comes through your family line.
As we read those seventy some names, about half of them we know nothing about. They’re like you and I. Some of you, if we Google you, you don’t come up. Others of you, if we Google, you do come up. Luke 3 is like that. If we go to the Bible, half of the people, we know nothing about. The other half, we know… some are famous, some are infamous in major
or minor ways. And the point is that sometimes its the less known people who raise the better known people, and those are the people that God chooses to pour out his grace on to be used for his kingdom purposes on the earth.
So what I’d like to do is to think with generational legacy and lineage in mind.
if you have a husband or wife that loves Jesus, then if the two of you served together, you could really serve Jesus. And if you have some kids who love Jesus and they serve Jesus, and their kids have kids who love and serve Jesus, you could end up with
hundreds of thousands of people loving and serving Jesus. You could be like Jacob’s family going into Egypt, right? Dozens of people, but by the time they leave it’s millions of people. So we’re learning to think generationally. Right?
Now sometimes Christians don’t want to or can’t have children. Sometimes they need to postpone it for health or economic reasons. I understand that, but children are gifts from God. And we want to raise children to love and serve the Lord. We want to be used for God’s purposes… we want to raise children who will be used for God’s purposes… so that
there can be generations… legacy…. and servants of God. Amen? That’s what we want.
And that’s what we see in Luke’s Gospel. Multiple generations that God used, some
people in a big way, some people in a small way. But even those that were used of God in a small way, they brought forth children and grandchildren that were used of God in a big way. And that’s all wrapped up in the genealogy here.
2. Why we should care?
That is the big idea. That is why we should care about the genealogy in Luke. But there is more, he tells us in verse 23 in the beginning of Jesus’ family tree: "He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph." Some supposed that Joseph was his biological father, but the truth is that they didn’t know his father. He didn’t have an earthly, biological
father. And he was from a messed up family. That’s not blasphemous, that’s the truth!
Now that being said, the genealogy of Jesus is a list of people who were sinners that died. The genealogy of Jesus includes people like Terah who was an idolater… Abraham, who was an adulterer and a liar… Jacob was a cheater and a thief… Judah traded slaves and enjoyed prostitutes… David was an adulterer and a murderer… So we can’t let the genealogy be
reduced to some sort of Baptist fundamentalist Sunday school where the people in the pages of the Bible get lifted up like superheroes. You see, the genealogy of Jesus includes a lot of people who God loved and pursued… people who had a relationship with God… but their lives were a mess.
And here’s what happens. So many Christian families are fakers. You know everything is great. We’re Christians. Right? We’ve got it all together. You want to see our T-shirts, our bumper stickers, our home school curriculum? We’ve got it all together.
And what happens is it sets us up for this Christian culture of inauthenticity. And what I love about Jesus’ family is that it’s like… Well, here’s this guy and here’s that guy. And you look at the names and you’re like, "These are not the best people. I mean, there are some real sinners in here. This is a messed up family." And maybe you come from a
messed up family. The good news is that Jesus knows, loves, and is willing to get involved in messed up families. Maybe you come from a family that’s got a lot of skeletons in the closet. Jesus is the one who’s willing to bring them out and deal with the sin… the hypocrisy… the religiosity… and really make a difference in a family.
And yet some of you wonder, "Is my family fit for Christianity? But you don’t know my Dad!" Well the bottom line is that there is no hope for your family apart from the man Jesus Christ. And what I love about the genealogy is it includes some of the worst people. Yet God loves them. He pursues them. Jesus joins their family. And he redeems their
That’s exciting because Jesus in his grace has decided to get involved in my family and your family. So we can’t begin to think it was our doing. It was grace that brought us here. And I can tell you I’ve seen family and friends meet Jesus… I’ve seen some amazing life transformations… And that’s Jesus. He’s not looking for good families, he’s looking
for honest families, and he’s the one who jumps in and does the work.
3. How we connect.
And as we read the genealogy of Luke, it’s really about God’s covenant faithfulness, generation to generation, to an undeserving people. God reaching out and connecting with messed up families. That’s what we see in Luke 3. That’s what we see in verse 38.
Others in this list are more famous and infamous. But here’s what God says about Adam and his relationship to Jesus. He is "the son of Adam, the son of God." And in declaring Jesus to be a son of Adam, he is saying that Jesus is fully human, that God became a human being. Not a sinner, but a human being. Just as Adam was created without any sin, so
Jesus was without any sin. So here’s the connection between the humanity of Jesus and Adam.
But the son of Adam, the son of God, distinguishes Jesus as altogether unique and different. You see so-and-so was the son of so-and-so, but Jesus is the Son of God. This is not just a difference in degree, but in kind. He is not just a man, he’s the God-man. He’s the Son of God, kind of God. He is full humanity, like Adam was originally, without sin.
He is fully God and fully man. That’s what he’s saying.
Now, what this means is that there are really only two families. There are two family lines, two genealogies, and two family trees. Adam and Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15:45
Paul says, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit." So it’s Adam and Jesus; and Jesus is the last Adam. Those are the two clear-cut, uncompromising, unconditional, categorical groups of humanity. We have races and nations and cultures and genders and socioeconomic backgrounds and religions, but the truth is
there really only are two categories: those who are in Adam, and those who are in Christ.
So let me put this together for you as we close. Adam is a sinner and Jesus is sinless. In Adam we inherit guilt and in Jesus we receive forgiveness. In Adam there is condemnation, in Jesus there is salvation. In Adam there is death, and in Jesus there is eternal life. Where Adam has failed, Jesus was victorious.
As we close I must ask you, are you in the family line of Jesus?
Let me explain… For us to connect with God… for us to enjoy the covenant benefits, we must acknowledge that we like Adam, as his sons and daughters, are all sinners. We must, like Noah, receive and respond to the grace of God given us in Jesus. We must, like Abraham, respond to God by faith, trusting in the person and work of Jesus. And we must receive
Jesus as David did, as our King of kings and Lord of lords. And in doing so, what happens is that even though we were born in Adam, we’re born again in Jesus, and our names are actually added to the family line of Jesus.
It’s called the Lamb’s book of life and when we pass from this life to the next… when we stand before Jesus, that book will be opened and the list of names will be read just as Luke’s list of names has been read, and if you’ve received grace from, and have faith in the man Jesus Christ as your King, it won’t be just a boring list of names. It will be
your friends, your family, your children, and your name read, as those who have been adopted into the family of God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That is exciting isn’t it?
So when we read Luke, we read of people that God was faithful to. And he invites us to respond, to connect with him, that he would be our God, and that we would be his people. So my great invitation to you today is, if you’re not a Christian, if you’re not born again, this is where you give your life and your sin to Jesus, and you enter into an eternal
covenant relationship with God.
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