When I first read through Luke 3 earlier this week, I had a moment of excitement that the last 23-38 verses were all just names. That meant that I would only have to look at the first 22 verses and give a summary of them. I hate to admit that I like to take the easy way out when possible. Well, now that I have studied this passage for 4+ days, I realized how important that list of names really is and want to walk you through the verses leading up to the genealogy:
1) The chapter opens up listing all the powerful leaders of this time, but John the Baptist has been chosen above them all to “prepare the way” for Jesus.
2) John the Baptist prepares the way for the coming Messiah. John reminds the people that when you believe, you need to produce fruit. He told them to do 5 things:
*If you have two coats, give one to the poor.
*If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.
*To the corrupt tax collectors, he said, show your honesty, make sure you collect no more taxes than the Roman government requires you to.
*To the soldiers, he said, don’t extort money, and don’t accuse people of things you know they didn’t do.
*And be content with your pay.
3) Jesus was then baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. This baptism represented the official start of His ministry. He began his ministry at 30 years old. He patiently waited all those years and trusted the Lord for his life and his ministry to begin.
4) The main reason for the baptism of Jesus was when the Lord came up from the water, the Father spoke from heaven and identified Him as the beloved Son of God. The Spirit visibly came upon Jesus in the form of a Dove.
But…what really caught my attention were the final 16 verses filled with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. These 16 verses are filled with 77 names of family genealogy. Luke takes a different approach and begins with Jesus and moves backward to Adam. He gives us the lineage through His mother Mary (which is unusual for this time) but used Jospeh’s name. It was known that Heli (verse 23) was Mary’s father, so when people read this, they knew that they were reading Mary’s genealogy. Luke wants to show that Jesus was a man and fully human. By putting the genealogy here, Luke reminded us that the Son of God was also the Son of man. This reminds us that Jesus truly identified with the needs and problems of all mankind.
God knows all these names that led to the birth of Jesus and His ministry on earth. God tells all the people that this is His Son! I think we all need to be reminded again and again that Jesus walked this earth and experienced life just as we do today. God put this list here for a reason. God foretold of John the Baptist and the Messiah coming, just as He had all of these names and that Jesus would come from these families many years ago. He knows our name and has a plan for our lives too.