Let’s start right out of the gate with controversy- the geneolgy of Jesus. Before you automatically get bored, let me assure you this is pretty interesting stuff. Both Matthew and Luke give a list of names of Jesus’ ancestors. The problem? The two lists don’t match. Check it out for yourself Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38. Matthew’s traces Jesus’ lineage as far back as Abraham and Luke’s goes back all the way to Adam. So why don’t the two match at least as far back as Abraham? Well, the answer most Bible scholars agree on is that Matthew traces the maternal line through Mary while Luke traces the paternal line through Joseph. Why would Matthew and Luke even bother to include these lists? I think one reason is to show fulfillment of some pretty big promises that were made way back in the day. There were certain covenants made between God and his people and these covenants forshadowed or were prophesy about the Messiah who was to come. Let’s take a look at some of these Messianic covenants, or promises about Jesus that God made with the people found in the genealogy of Jesus.
Adamic Covenant- the covenant between God and Adam
Luke goes all the way back to Adam. Why? Because in a way Adam forshadowed Jesus. Romans 5:12 & 15 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned…For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” Because of one man (Adam), all are condemned to die, but because of one man (Jesus) all are given a chance to live. Also, Luke says in 3:38 that Adam was the son of God, this is also forshadowing of Jesus because he too, is the Son of God. This does not mean that Adam is God, for Adam was created by God. Jesus is God and therefore Creator.
Also, after the sin of Adam and Eve, God makes this promise/curse to the serpent (it doesn’t sound so good for us humans on the surface but read it carefully):
“And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel,” (Genesis 3:15)
The woman’s offspring here refers to Jesus. So you can read it like this:
“And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and Jesus;
Jesus will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel”
The promise here is that even though the serpent’s offspring may hurt Jesus by striking them with a non-lethal wound, Jesus will crush Satan’s head (a lethal wound).
Abrahmic Covenant – the covenant between God and Abraham
Abraham was an old guy and Sarah, his wife, was old too- well beyond childbearing years. Yet God makes the following promise with Abraham,
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
To your seed I will give this land.”
So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:1-3, 7)
This was a significant promise not only because Abraham and Sarah were not likely to have children, but also because of the line, “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” You probably guessed it… he’s referring to Jesus here. You can read the this line to say, “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you because Jesus will come from your lineage.” Galatians 3:16 further gives evidence of this when it says, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.”
Pretty cool how this genealogy works shows God working throughout history, eh?
Davidic Covenant – the covenant between God and David
God makes a promise with King David establishing the royal line through David forever:
“When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever,” (1 Chronicles 17:11-14)
God is speaking two-fold here. First he is speaking about David’s immediate successor, his son Solomon, and second, he is talking about Jesus when he promises that he, “will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.” This is why Jesus is referred to as the Son of David. It is acknowledgement of fulfilled prophesy.
These are just very basic overviews of some of the major covenants found in the Bible. Do you want to know what I find amazing about God and these covenants? Even though humanity has failed God over and over and over… God remains faithful to his promises. These covenants are not based on our fulfillment of obligations; they are upheld through God’s faithfulness alone! This is not to say that all covenants are given unconditionally. God has given us promises with conditions that we must keep. For example, 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This promise is given in this format, IF you do A, THEN I will do B. But the covenants we discussed today are not given like that. Instead, God says, I will do B regardless of what you do.
Next time we will look at what I believe to be another reason the genealogy of Christ is added in the Bible. Spoiler Alert- it has to do with prostitutes, liars, cheaters and the like! I hope that whets your appetite to come back with me and enjoy some more of God’s word.
Thank you God for your unfailing love for us. Thank you for your faithfulness in keeping your promises even when we fail. Help us to learn more about you, give us a thirst that can not be quenched except by your word. Amen.