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TEXT: Luke 3:21-38
SUBJECT: Luke #8: Baptism, Genealogy
Today, with God's blessing, we'll continue our study of Luke's Gospel. Luke wrote it to increase our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and to deepen our faith in Him.
Before we go any farther, let me ask you an impolite question: Is it having that effect on you? Do you know the Lord better now than you did last week? And are you trusting Him more than you were? If you are, thank God-you're growing in grace! But, if not, please remember, "It is not hearers of the Law that are justified, but doers."
We must recall that with the privilege of reading and hearing the Word of God, we also have a responsibility to act on it in faith and obedience. That's why Luke wrote his Book and why the Lord has preserved it for you and me.
Today's passage is made up of two parts: First we have a short story about the Lord's baptism; then we have a long list of names that trace the descent of our Savior back to Adam, and of course, the One who made him.
At first glance, the two seem to have little in common. But, in fact, they're put together for a good reason-one that's suited to cheer the heart of every believer and give hope to every sinner. We'll get to the lessons in a few minutes, but first, the stories.
Luke's story begins at the Jordan River, near the end of the ministry of John the Baptist. For many years, the man had lived quietly in the wilderness. But then, on receiving the signal from God, he burst onto the public scene with the light and the heat of a supernova.
He suddenly appeared preaching the Kingdom of God is near and that men must prepare for it by submitting to a baptism of repentance for the remission of sin. Thousands flocked to hear the man, and many obeyed the prophetic call and turned to God with eagerness.
Four or five months into his ministry, John is met by a Man seeking baptism. John had never seen Him before, but he knew there was something different about Him. While other men had sins to confess and to symbolically wash away in the Jordan River, this man was clean inside and out. John thought he himself was a better candidate for baptism than this Man, yet the Man insisted on it. And John complied.
The Man was baptized in the River, and on coming out of the water, He began to pray. In answer to His prayer three incredible things happened:
"The heavens opened". If you've read the Old Testament with any care, you know what this stands for: God breaking into the world of men-either in judgment or salvation.
"The Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove". Other men were anointed with oil-prophets, priests, and kings. But this Man is anointed with the Holy Spirit.
That too looks back to the Prophecies of the Old Testament. Though God had chosen many servants in the past, now He was singling out One Man for the greatest work of all.
"A Voice came from heaven which said, "You are My Beloved Son, in You I am well pleased".
Scholars say that by the grammar of the verse, this is the thing Luke is emphasizing to us. Though the baptism and the Dove are important, he wants us to think most of all about the Voice-and what it said about the Man Who was baptized.
The Man, of course, is our Lord Jesus Christ. And what God wants us to know about Him is this: He is God's Son.
THE MEANING OF "GOD'S SON".
But what does this mean?
Some commentators say it affirms the full Divinity or Deity of Jesus Christ; that our Lord is the Second Person of the Trinity. In other words, that He is God.
From the bottom of my heart, I agree with their doctrine. Jesus Christ is God, and no less Divine than the Father or the Holy Spirit. He accepts worship because He deserves worship.
But even though I agree with their doctrine, I don't think they understand the verses before us. What they say is perfectly true, but it is not what Luke is getting at here.
Here-it seems to me-"Son of God" means the Messiah or Christ. Psalm 2:7 uses the term in that way, and I think it fits an anointing very well, indeed.
Thus, in calling our Lord God's Son, Luke wants us to know that Jesus is the Christ and that He's going to redeem His people by an act of almighty power and grace.
In doing the work of Messiah, the Lord Jesus will assume three offices: Prophet, Priest, and King.
As a prophet, He will teach the Word of God. But as the Prophet He will do more than that. He will also give His people the ears to hear the Word of God and the hearts to love and obey it. Moses was the greatest prophet of the Old Testament era. But the most He could do was deliver Words engraved on tables of stone. But our Lord would write the Words of God on tables of the heart. The work of Moses and the prophets was very great, but Christ is God's Final Spokesman.
"God who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days, spoken unto us in the Son".
As a priest, He will offer a sacrifice in our place. But as the Priest, He'll offer a sacrifice that will result in full and eternal salvation. Aaron and his sons were priests and their work was valuable. It averted judgments on Israel and won many favors from God. But there was something lacking in the offerings of old. The thoughtful Hebrew knew that because-after all-they had to be offered over and over again.
But the sacrifice of Christ would be so great that once would be enough to satisfy God's justice forever! And to wipe our sins clean for good!
"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the most holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption".
As a king, Jesus Christ will rule His people and defend them from their enemies. But as the King, He will do it successfully and forever. The best kings of Israel only ruled their subjects outwardly. While Hezekiah lived, the people "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord", but as soon as Manasseh took his place on the throne, the nation returned to its disobedient and idolatrous ways. The best kings rule their people from the outside in. But Christ rules us from the inside out. He makes us-not only to obey Him-but to love holiness and to pursue it from the heart. As for defending His people? There is no comparison: David killed Philistines, but Christ slays the devil, the world, and our remaining sin. And again, the best kings died, but this One lives forever,
"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom". "Your people shall be willing in the day of Your power".
Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He's everything Israel anticipated-and a whole lot more.
That's the baptismal story and what it says to us.
Following the short story we have a long genealogy. It starts with the baptism of our Lord (c. 30 A.D.) and works its way back to the first Friday morning in the history of the world. It was on that day, of course, that God created Adam.
There are 77 names on the list. Some have found the number deeply symbolic. Symbolic of what, I'm not sure. And it seems awfully subtle to me-especially for Gentiles who didn't catch the symbolism of 7's and 12's and 40's as the Jews did.
The big problem with Luke's list, of course, is that it doesn't match the other one in the Bible, found in Matthew 1. A few of the names are the same, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Judah, David, and so on. But the great majority are not.
Right after David, for example, Matthew names Solomon, but Luke says Nathan.
How do you explain the differences? While being open to other answers, I'm of the opinion that Matthew traces the Lord's line through His adopted father Joseph while Luke takes it through His mother, Mary.
But whatever we make of the two genealogies, Luke's goal is not to confirm Matthew's list or to correct it. He's getting at something else.
In taking us back to Abraham and David, Matthew was telling the Jews that Jesus Christ is the Promised Seed and the King of Israel.
But in taking us back to Adam and God, Luke is linking Jesus Christ, not only to God, but to all His offspring as well, that is, the whole human race.
That's why Luke gave the Lord's genealogy. Unlike the Jews, the Gentiles don't care much for family trees. But we have to know that Christ belongs as much to us as He does to the Jews! He's not only the Messiah of Israel, He's "The Savior of the world".
Because our Lord is related to everyone, He can identify with everyone. He knows your sorrow. He knows what it feels like to
Suffer physical pain and discomfort. Some of you have chronic illnesses. You ought to pray for healing and the Lord may well grant it. But He may not. And if He doesn't, you have a lifetime to live with a pain or a weakness that will only get worse. That's a scary thought. But it's made bearable because your Savior knows what it is to hurt.
Think of the hunger that gnawed at Him in the wilderness as He fasted for forty days and night. Think of the demands of His public life and how exhausted He must have been at the end of the day-only to face another day even more exhausting. Then, of course, you think of His last hours, so full of sharp pains of body and soul. Sweating great drops of blood in the Garden; beaten in the courtroom; flayed in the Praetorium; crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross to die by suffocation. Though the Lord may not have had the same ailment you do, He knows its pain. And more.
Disappointed with friends and family. When the Lord was twelve, His parents misunderstood Him and bawled Him out in public. Later, His brothers thought of having Him committed to an asylum. His friends were no better: they didn't listen to Him, they didn't follow His example, they slept when He needed them most, they ran off when He was in troubled, and one of them denied three times with an oath.
Some of you-I know-have family issues: your kids are breaking your heart, maybe; your parents are divorced; your mom's not saved, and so on. It hurts you so badly you just want to cry. And when you do, remember, family problems broke your Savior's heart as well.
Or for you, maybe it's not your family, but your friends who have let you down. People you counted on were not there for you. They lied about you, talked behind your back, or jilted you for other friends. The Lord knows what it means to be let down by His friends.
Have no money. The economy is bad right now; some have been laid off already and others may be. Money is not your god, but you still need it. When you don't know what to do, just remember that while
"Foxes had their holes and birds had their nests, the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head".
He's felt the concern; He's seen the worried looks; He's wondered where His next meal was coming from. He knows what it is to have no money.
Lose a loved one. The deepest and iciest waters you'll ever go through is the loss of a loved one. If you've never lost anyone, it's hard to explain what it feels like. It's a cocktail of sorrow, anger, loneliness, pain, and numbness. Everything will remind you of the one you lost-where he used to sit at the table, the funny things she did. You'll see people in the store and you think, "That's.oh, no it's not". You'll dial the phone number and then remember, she's not there any more.
Well, the Lord lost one He loved very dearly, so dearly that He cried at the tomb so that others noticed and said, "Behold, how He loved him!"
Forsaken by God. Every Christian knows what it means to feel forsaken by God. You pray to Him with all your heart, but He doesn't give you want you ask for. And, more than that, He doesn't even seem to be there! When you need Him most, He's not there for you. At least that how it feels.
But that's only a feeling for Christians-He is there, whether we feel Him or not. And He hears our prayers, whether He grants them or not. But what is a feeling for us was more than a feeling to the Lord Jesus Christ. God not only "seemed" to forsake Him, but He really did. And not when He was relaxing on a warm beach, but when He hung from a deadly cross. It was there that He cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
And got no answer.
The list is not complete. Hebrews 4:15 says "In all points, He was tempted as we are".
Underline the word, "all"-not some, most, or all but one. It is all without exception. Every weakness you've felt, He felt; every pain you've suffered, He suffered; every temptation you've faced, He faced. And a whole lot more.
The pains and heartaches haven't made Him hard or demanding. No, they've made Him perfectly sympathetic.
PUT THEM TOGETHER
If you put the two parts of the sermon together, you've got the punch line: If Jesus Christ is the Messiah, He has the power to save and comfort you. If Jesus Christ is the fully human Messiah, He's got the compassion to save and comfort you.
So why don't you look to Him? He's got the power and the grace to help you out of your problem or to help you while you're in it. Why don't you look to Him right now?
The love of God be with you. Amen.
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