Text: Luke 3:23-38
Date: Sunday October 1, 2023
Opening Illustration High School Reunion
We come today to a passage that many people would just skip over if they were reading the Bible straight through, the genealogy of Jesus. But today I want to breath life into this genealogy. I want to show you that every text of Scripture has truth to be gleaned from it. We want to answer the question, “Why did Luke include the ancestry of Jesus?” And, “What impact should this text have on my life?” And so, I will offer us three insights from Luke’s genealogy of Christ.
Meaning & Application
I LUKE DEMONSTRATES THAT JESUS HAS A LEGITIMATE CLAIM TO DAVID’S THRONE
First, Luke’s genealogy demonstrates that Jesus has a legitimate claim to David’s throne. Now if this sounds snoozeworthy, I assure you its not. Jesus is the Messiah. The word Messiah is a Hebrew term that means Savior. In fact, the word Messiah in Hebrew is translated as Christ in the Greek. And so Jesus “Christ” means Jesus the Savior, or Jesus the Messiah.
A What Was the Messiah Supposed to Be & Do?
In order to fully understand why this is important, I want to help us get into the minds of Luke’s readers. What were they expecting of the Messiah?
Common Expectations: Throughout the Old Testament there are hundreds of passages that seem to point towards indicators of who the Messiah would be and what he would do. Ultimately, he would be a Savior, and many, especially during the days of the Roman Empire, believed that the Messiah would come and liberate Israel from Roman occupation. But that’s not what the Old Testament revealed. Here are a few things that God revealed. In Isaiah 7:14 we read the Messiah would be born of a virgin and would be called “Immanuel, God with us.” in Daniel 2 we read that the messiah would come during the reign of the Roman Empire, which is precisely when he came.
Messiah a Suffering Servant: Third, the Old Testament was clear that the Messiah would suffer. Many passages demonstrate this, but Isaiah 53 is the clearest.
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
This language is clearly speaking of a crucifixion event. Later on in that same passage it would speak of his being killed and laid in a rich man’s tomb. Jesus was laid in the tomb that Joseph or Arimethea puchased. It then reads in verse 10,
Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
Most people interpret this to say that after the Messiah was to be killed, he would resurrect from the dead. All of this is remarkable language about what the Messiah would accomplish.
B Messiah Must Be a Descendant of King David
The Throne of David Forever: But there was one very particular requirement that the Messiah had to meet. He had to be a descendent of King David. There a few passages that make this very clear. The first is 2 Samuel 7:12-13 where God promises to establish the throne of David’s descendent forever.
2 Samuel 7:12–13 ESV When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
King David had a son, Solomon, who did indeed build a house for God, the Temple. But Solomon died, his throne was not forever. The Jews of Jesus day were waiting for a descendent of David to establish the throne of David forever.
Righteous Branch: The prophet Jeremiah says,
Jeremiah 23:5 ESV “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
So Jeremiah clarifies, that the righteous branch from the line of David will be a good king who will establish justice and righteousness. The people of Jesus’ day were waiting for a descendant of David to claim the throne of David and rule forever.
C Jesus Saved Us From What?
If you observe our passage today, you will see that in verse 31, we have listed King David. This means that when Jesus made a claim to that throne, he was not an imposter, but a legitimate heir. And our King Jesus, has taken up that throne, where he is seated at the right of the Father.
A Greater Tyrant: The people of Christ’s day thought Jesus had come to rid them of Roman occupation. Jesus did not come to save the wrath of Rome. He came to save them from the wrath of God. Our sins are laid up before God. Every one of them is counted, is inventoried. Our sins are no small thing in the eyes of God. We are full of sin. Sins of commission—those wrong things we do and think and say. Thinks of ommission—the good things we fail to do that God has placed before us. We are even guilty from our Orginal Sin, the blood which flows through our veins is set incorrectly, it is positioned towards rebellion to God. O Christian, this is why it is so good to lay yourself underneath the law of God to see your sin in all of its filth.
An Objection: But some will say, “Is not our sin a lighter issue than deserving an eternity of wrath? Is hell not too severe a consequence for simply behaving as most humans do? To this objection I offer three thoughts.
First, does not the Scriptures warn us with clarity of wrath of God coming for unrepentant sinners. Matthew 25:41 ““Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Jude 7 “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
Second, your sin is before an eternal, holy God. If you were to steal harm me there would be consequences. But if you were to harm the president of the United States, the consequences would be more severe. God is perfectly holy and eternal. And when you sin against that holy God whether in action, inaction, thought or movement at all, that is an eternal injunction worthy of an eternal wrath.
Third, consider Christ on the cross. If God did not spare Jesus the bloody terrible death he endured for the consequences of our sin, what do you think will happen to the unrepentant sinner? No, God is a just judge. There will be an equal punishment for every sin.
Allegiance: O Christian, now that you have seen the depth of your sin, see the legitimate heir David’s throne, and all he endured to rescue you from that wrath. Grant him your unwavering allegiance.
II LUKE DEMONSTRATES THAT JESUS IS A GLOBAL SAVIOR, NOT JUST A JEWISH SAVIOR
Second, Luke’s Genaology is unique, in that it demonstrates that Jesus, the Messiah, is a Messiah for the whole world and not just for the Jewish people. For our ears, that might sound obvious, but it wasn’t for first century. In fact this is one of the great themes of Luke and Acts, that the good news of Jesus is good news for all people.
A Backstory on the Jewish Hope
Abraham: Once again, a little backstory is important. The Old Testament reveals the story of God’s dealing with humanity from creation, all the way through the present. The origin of Israel is a very important piece of the story. After the Tower of Babel incident in Genesis 11, the nations were scattered over the face of the Earth, disobedient to God. But God chose from among the nations, one man, Abraham. In Genesis 12, God says to Abraham,
Genesis 12:1–3 ESV Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Notice the language at the end of verse 3. In you “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This was the role of Israel. Israel was to be a light to the nations, the hope of the world. As the nations looked in on Israel, with their God, and their laws, and their righteous standards, they would get a glimpse of how good and how wise and how righteous God is.
Israel Failed But the Mission Didn’t: If you know your Bibles, you will know that Israel largely failed at this task. There were wonderful seasons, but eventually they began to look a lot like all the other nations. Their ethics were not much higher than the ethics of the pagan nations around them, and they were eventually overthrown, scattered among the very nations they were supposed be a light to. But, God never lost sight of His original mission to bless the nations through Israel. The hope was that one day the messiah would come, and fulfill the original mission, to win the nations, not just Israel, but the nations back to God.
B Luke’s Genaeology Goes Back to Adam
In our passage today, Luke gives a genaeology of Jesus. His genaeology is different than the genaeology that Matthew gives. Matthew wrote particularly to a Jewish audience and was really aiming to prove from the Old Testament that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. And so, his genaeology goes all the way back to Abraham, the start of the nation of Israel. But look with me at Luke’s genaeology. He goes further. Luke goes beyond Abraham, all the way back to Adam, the Son of God. Why? The reason is that Luke is going to show in this Gospel, throughout the whole book, that Jesus has come for the entire world, people from every nation. Jesus is not only the Jewish Messiah. But he is the savior of every nation. RC Sproul comments on this and says,
“Luke is showing the universality of the mission of Christ. Jesus Christ is not just for the Jews, but for the Gentiles, for the Romans and the Greeks. Jesus is the new Adam, the author of the new humanity, the one who comes to redeem and to reconcile men from every tribe and nation, not merely giving himself as a ransom for the lost sheep of Israel, but pouring out himself as a substitute for the sinful children of Adam’s race.”RC Sproul
C Response: You Have Been Grafted Into To This Heritage
How ought we respond to this as Christians? How does this impact our faith? Christian, learn to cherish your heritage. What do I mean by that? We have to identify with the great story we have been grafted into. In our family, I have three daughters, two of whom are adopted, African American precious girls. When they were very little before they understood anything about race or culture or anything. All they knew was that their Dad was Italian and English. So, they were Italian and English. One day in school their teacher was asking about family heritage, and one of my daughter said, “I’m italian.” And of course the teacher had a chuckle. Church—this childlike faith is to be yours as well. You who were outside of God’s covenant. You who were from the nations. You who had nothing to do with King David, or with Moses, or with Abraham, or with Isaac. You who were an enemy to God and to His dealing with people. God has grafted you into that story. This is your heritage. Learn to cherish it. Soak in the stories from the Old Testament for they form the very foundation upon which all our faith is built.
III LUKE DEMONSTRATES THAT GOD USES BROKEN STORIES FOR HIS GLORY
Third and final insight from Luke’s Genaeology is that God uses broken stories for his glory. Many of the names in Luke’s genaology are unknown outside of this particular passage. But not all. Some of the men who are listed in this passage we know very well who they are and what their stories were because they are recorded in the pages of Scripture.
A King David (31)
Let us consider King David in verse. King David was a King of Israel who is known as a man after God’s own heart. David had extraordinary highs to his life and ministry. On the whole he was a good King. And yet, he was an unbelievably flawed man, who had seasons of his life that were miserable, that were full of sin. And not just on one occasion, but David continually made mistakes.
David & Bathsheba: Perhaps you know the story of David and Bathsheba. One day, when all the men were out at war, David had decided to lazily stay home and rest and let his men do his fighting for him.
2 Samuel 11:2–3 ESV It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
David looks and sees something he shouldn’t see. But rather than stopping at that sin, repenting, and asking God to remove the temptation from his mind. He orders his men to bring her up to his bedroom, where he sleeps with her, and impregnates her.
David & Uriah: David then seeing the fruit of his sin tries to cover it up. First he tries to bring Uriah the Hittite, her husband, home from the battlefield assuming that Uriah will sleep with his wife. But Uriah refuses to sleep with his wife while his men are on the battle field. So David resorts to another sinful scheme. Keep in mind, Uriah is one of David’s thirty mighty men, a guy who was his close friend, someone who they had camped under the stars togehter and fought for their life together. Eventually he writes to Joab his commander
2 Samuel 11:14–15 ESV In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.”
In David’s mind, if Uriah’s dead, he can marry Bathsheba, and it will look like the child was not conceived out of wedlock. Which is exactly what happens. David murdered his friend. David had an affair.
God Used David: And yet, despite this, God still used David mightily. David’s story wasn’t done when he commited sin, even heinous sin.
D What They Have In Common
While we don’t know every person’s story in this list of names. We know many. Boaz was the husband of Ruth, a Moabite woman, from the forbidden side of the tracks. Jacob was a deceiver who lied throughout his whole life. Abraham doubted God’s promise and tried to force God’s hand by taking a second wife. Do you know what each of the people on this genaeology have in common. They were sinful men, who lived in a sin filled world, and faced all kinds of difficulties as a result. They were people who at times made great and godly decisions, and at other times failed to keep that standard true in their life. They were people who faced all sorts of pressures and challenges, and didn’t always navigate them faithfully, in fact sometimes navigated them wickedly. They made mistakes. And often repented for those mistakes. And God did not cast them out. This is our story, if our faith is in Christ.
E Christians Have A New Nature
I’d like to linger here for a moment because we are approaching the very center of the Gospel, and I fear that we get this center wrong in some significant ways. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 has these incredible words.
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 ESV Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The beauty of the Gospel is in those five precious words, “Such… Were… Some… Of… You…” Not one person is off this list. Like David You have fallen short. Like Ruth and Naomi, I have fallen short. God’s law remains as the standard by which our lives will be judged on that great day when he returns. And if we stand on our own, we will fail, as quickly as Goliath failed when he stood before the Lord’s anointed. But if you stand upon the rock of Christ, you will live. Christ grants you a new nature, not like the old. He changes you from the inside out.
E Mistake 1: Shame & Regret
There are two separate but problematic mistakes that people often make when they consider this remarkable work of the Gospel in their life. The first has to do with shame and regret. This shame and regret comes in two forms, both of which the gospel addresses.
Shame Over Former Sins: Some carry with them exhorbitant shame and regret over the sins of their former life before they knew Christ. They find that their mistakes of the past cripple them from every really engaging, from ever really growing with Christ. They carry their mistakes from their former life like a ball and chain, lumbering around behind them, causing all kinds of havoc. O friend, “For freedom Christ has set you free.” Your sin may have been heinous! It may have been dispicable. You may have outshined David in your wickedness. But see David, when he was confronted over his past sins did not hide in shame, wallowing in past errors. He confessed his sin openly.
2 Samuel 12:13 ESV David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
David prays and fasts and seeks the Lord and worships. If you are in Christ, do not live as one who still carries that shame of your former life with you.
Shame Over Current Sins: Still others carry with them ongoing shame about their current struggles with sin. Their preacher says that they are born again, that they have a new nature, but they still experience those same old lusts, those same old desires, those same old struggles. And internally they have no assurance of faith, no internal confidence that they truly are in Christ. They are like a soldier who lines up with his other ready to storm the battle field. But when the moment comes he is overcome with battle-fright. The men rush out to fight valiantly and he cowers in some hidden spot unable to join, ashamed of his own cowardice.
Christian, you must not be that man. If you are in Christ, you have a nature. Yes, your old nature will wage war against you, but you have Christ, your victor, who marches before you and behind you. When Satan, the Father lies mocks you for your cowardice and lies to you and convinces you, that you have no right to the throne of grace, you are to claim the blood of Jesus Christ, and send that serpent back to his nest.
F Mistake 2: Our Own Sins & The Sins of Society Don’t Bother Us
There is another mistake though. I believe a much more grevious mistake. This is the mistake of assuming we are those who have aquired the new nature, while bearing none of the hallmarks of the transformation, namely a new conscience that burns at the sight of sin. This is the mistake assuming the title Christian while being at ease about one’s ongoing sin, having no grief over godlessness in us, or around us. Authentic Christians battle with sin, yes! But they never become complacent with it. O my heart burns for those who have become complacent with sin. The Apostle Paul wrote,
Romans 6:1–2 ESV What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
When Jesus became Lord of your life, you gave Him your allegiance, body and soul. In a city like Chicago it is far too easy to grow callous and immune to the sin that pervades the culture around us. We must awaken our sleepy consciences to point godward again, to grieve over sin with a godly grief that leads us to repentance. This is a hallmark of a Christian, we love God and we hate everything that dares to stand against him, even when we see it in ourselves.
G Scan Your Heart
And so, permit me to give you a short inward test to scan your heart, to see where you stand on this. Remember the point is that God uses our broken stories for his glory. These are markers for you, of whether the true Gospel has taken root in your life.
Complacency: Are there any areas of your life where you are complacent with sin. Where sin just has a foothold and you are not battling it at all. This is dangerous. Christian—make war with your sin. Crucify your lusts.
Soul, take thy lust, thy only lust, which is the child of they dearest love, thy Isaac, the sin which has caused most joy and laughter, from which thou has promised thyself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever thou lookest to see my face with comfort, lay hand on it and offer it up: pour out the blood of it before me; runt he sacrificing knife of mortification in the very heart of it.”William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armor
Only in Christ is this possible.
Shame: Do you carry shame around with you about former sins? Are you fearful to share with other brothers and sisters in Christ about the mistakes you have made? Christ has set you free from that shame. He has given you a new life. I am always humbled and grateful for Christians who speak with clarity about all that God has delivered them from.
H Close This Section
These are markers of the Gospel in your life, fruit of the Spirit of God at work in you. Markers of the Gospel of Grace that uses our weaknesses, our insecurities, our mistakes, and our broken stories for his glory. In all things, we are to point the world to Him who loves us, and forgave us of all of our debt. Yes indeed, in all things we are more than conquerers.
And so, this seemingly boring genealogy of Jesus Christ teaches us three vital truths. 1 Jesus meets the requirements of the law to be the messiah. 2 Jesus is a Global savior, not just a Jewish savior. 3 God uses broken stories for His glory.