Luke 3:23-38

Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph, son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai, son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda, son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Neri, son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er, son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim, son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David, son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Sala, son of Nahshon, son of Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni, son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor, son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah, son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech, son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleel, son of Cainan, son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.

Genealogies bore most of us.

Not all, of course. Some find family trees fascinating, even those of others. But most of us get lost in the names, confused by the various connections, and end up wondering what all this information tells us or why we should care.

Two gospel writers include a list of Jesus’ ancestors, so they obviously thought this information mattered. Luke does so here, and Matthew actually begins his story with such a list, though it moves forward to Jesus rather than backward from him (1:1-17). Each does so to make a particular theological point. Matthew, writing for a primarily Jewish audience, starts his genealogy with Abraham, father of the faith, traces it through David, Israel’s mightiest king, to Jesus. Matthew therefore writes with a concern to demonstrate that in Jesus God is both fulfilling prophecy and keeping the covenants God made with David – that one of his descendants would always sit on the throne of Israel – and with Abraham – that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand along the sea and be a blessing to the world.

Luke writes for a slightly different audience, likely one made up of Jews and Gentiles. He writes aware that the immanent return of Jesus has not yet happened and may not for many generations. And he writes believing that the future of the Christian movement lives outside of Jerusalem in the Gentile world. (Indeed, the second half of his work – The Acts of the Apostles – will trace the development of the church from Jerusalem to Rome and beyond.) And so while Luke also wants to connect Jesus to David and to Abraham, he goes back even further, tracing Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam, the first human.

Why? Because Luke wants to show that Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, is savior of the world, the whole world, going all the way back to Adam…and all the way up to us.

Prayer: Dear God, We give you thanks that no one escapes your notice or concern. Seeing that, stir our hearts with compassion for all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.