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Son of God and Son of Man

August 20 2023

Book: Luke

Scripture: Luke 3:21-38

When we last saw Jesus, at the end of chapter 2, he was 12 years old. 18 years have now passed. We have no record of what Jesus was like in his teens or twenties, but we are left to assume that He had a very normal life – living in a small town, working with Joseph, having dinner with his family, attending synagogue.

And then, at age 30, Jesus visits his cousin John at the Jordan River.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened,

22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

We should start by asking a question. Why was Jesus baptized?

For everyone else, baptism was an act of repentance. But Jesus didn’t need to repent. So, why was He baptized?

The Gospel of John tells us that this moment was when Jesus was revealed to Israel. It was the beginning of His public ministry. The voice from heaven and the descending of the Holy Spirit makes it really obvious – there’s something special about Jesus.

But His baptism also symbolized something. When the other people went into the water, it symbolized being cleansed by the water – as if their sins were being washed away.

For Jesus, it was the opposite. He was already clean. Jesus, then, was baptized into water that had been symbolically polluted by the sins of the people. This is why Jesus refers to a second baptism in Luke 12 – thinking of the cross. That was the moment when Jesus literally took on the sins of His people and fell under the curse of God.

And so, the baptism of Jesus preaches the Gospel to us. We go in the water to become clean, but it only works because Jesus went in the water to get dirty. The baptism of Jesus demonstrated His commitment to take our place.

And notice, it’s after Jesus does this – symbolically identifying with His people through baptism – that’s when the Father speaks and blesses Jesus.

Jesus came to do the will of His Father. And you get a sense of the relationship they had. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – all together in this moment – and when the Father speaks, what does He say? You’re my son. I love you. I’m proud of you.

These are the best words a son can hear from his father… words he needs to hear.

You’re mine… you came from somewhere. I claim you. You belong to this family.

I love you… I’m committed to you. I will never leave nor forsake you.

I’m pleased with… I’m proud of you. I’m delighted in you.

In an imperfect way, this is how I feel about my children. But with the Father and Jesus, it’s absolutely perfect. Their relationship is perfect and eternal.

And this is how Jesus began his ministry – with the perfect blessing of His Father, immediately after Jesus committed Himself to the mission of reconciliation.

23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, (thirty was the age of public service) being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,

And now, we’re going to cycle through these names on the screen – but I’m not going to read all of them, because I’ll butcher half of them! But this is the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Luke traces it back from Joseph to David.

24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,

25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,

26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda,

27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,

28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,

29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,

30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,

31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

There’s David… and now it goes back from David all the way to Adam.

32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon,

33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,

34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,

35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,

36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan,

38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

It’s worth mentioning that Luke’s genealogy is a little different from Matthew’s. There are several good explanations for that – but they are both accurate. Jesus could actually trace his lineage to David two different ways, leaving no doubt He was the promised Messiah.

And Luke takes it further – all the way back to Adam, showing that Jesus was the promised Savior of Genesis 3.

In more ways than one, Jesus was both the Son of Man and the Son of God. There are exactly 77 names listed from beginning to end. This is a perfect number of generations.

It is also significant that Luke begins with Jesus and works his way backward all the way to Adam. That’s how the chapter ends, and then immediately in chapter 4 is the story we will read next week – the temptation of Jesus by Satan.

Luke wants us to see the connection between Adam and Jesus, whom Paul later calls the Second Adam. Just as the first Adam became the representative head of all mankind in our sin, Jesus is the Second Adam, the representative head of the new covenant of grace.

Luke, then, is explaining the mission of Jesus in two ways – His connection to humanity and God through His baptism and His connection to humanity and God through His genealogy.

I know this is all fairly technical and that looking at a bunch of names is sort of boring.

But this is incredibly significant and think about what it means. God did not choose to save us in some disconnected way. He embedded His salvation right into the fabric of humanity. He wrote the story of our world with Jesus right in the middle of history. Jesus was born into an actual family tree.

Some of you may know a lot about your family tree. Some of you may know very little. But there’s something we all have in common. If we knew all the stories of our ancestors, we would find some who did great things and some who did terrible things.

We would be shocked and embarrassed if we knew some of those stories. And perhaps our ancestors would be shocked and embarrassed if they knew some of the things we have done.

But consider the family tree of Jesus! Among those names, there were cowards and liars, murderers and adulterers, criminals, and scoundrels. Yes, some of them did great things. But these were all sinful men.

Consider also that God chose this family tree. None of us has the opportunity to choose the family we are born into. Jesus was the only person in history who had that choice.

It should be amazing to us that God chose to do this at all. We should marvel at the fact that the God who created the universe chose to be born into the fabric of humanity. He had a family. He had parents. He had siblings. He had grandparents. They had stories and a home and a culture and traditions.

But He also had a perfect connection to His Father in heaven, because Jesus was fully human and fully God. Luke shows us this by placing the baptism of Jesus and the genealogy of Jesus side by side.

We call this the Incarnation. And it’s one of the greatest mysteries of our faith.

Some of you know that we have chickens in our backyard. We have 10 beautiful birds – 9 hens and 1 rooster. We have Americanas and Easter Eggers and Silver-Laced Wyandottes. I love watching the chickens. They’re funny birds. The way they walk. The way the scratch. The noises they make. They way they jerk their heads around when they look at you.

I enjoy watching the chickens. We raised them from baby chicks. We do our best to protect them and care for them. But I would never consider giving up my humanity to become a chicken! I would never trade my air-conditioned house for a smelly chicken coop. I would never give up steak and pizza and tacos for chicken feed.

And yet, me trading places with a chicken is far less of a downgrade than God becoming a human. Jesus gave up heaven to become one of us. And that’s not the worst of it.

To paraphrase Jonathan Edwards, Jesus had been living for all eternity in the perfect, loving presence of the Father and He left it to be cast into a furnace for people who wouldn’t love Him back. He yielded Himself to the crushing weight of God’s wrath for people who had no love for Him… people who were His enemies.

We deserve no union with Christ, and never did, and never will do anything to earn that kind of relationship with God. We can’t earn the right to be part of God’s family any more than a chicken can earn the right to be human. Our only hope was that Jesus would choose to do something that makes no sense. He became like us, for us.

And there are several reasons why this matters.

First, it means God is accessible. He’s not just up there, somewhere. He came down. Jesus made God accessible to us. And as we study the life of Jesus, we are seeing God. It’s the best way for us to know what God is like.

Second, it means that God understands us. We should never have doubted that. He created us, after all. But God is apparently patient and humble. He was willing to show us how much He understands the human experience.

I love this quote by Dorothy Sayers:

“God can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He himself has gone through the whole of human experience—

from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death…

He was born in poverty and suffered infinite pain—all for us—and thought it well worth his while.”

Third, it means that Jesus is the only way you can get right with God. There is only one Mediator between God and man. It’s Jesus because He’s both. If you want a relationship with God, you have to know Jesus.

Finally, consider what that means. When you become united to Christ, you also become a child of God. And what that means is that how God feels about Jesus is how God feels about you. What the Father said to Jesus in the Jordan River is what the Father says to you. In Jesus, He loves you. He claims you. He’s proud of you.

And this, brothers and sisters, this is what we are hungry for in the deepest part of our soul. We want to know that we are loved by our Creator… that He claims us… that He’s proud of us. And that can be true of you – but only in Jesus.