Friday, February 1, 2013

Luke 3:19-38

21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (full text here)

The act of accusing Herod of an unlawful marriage and other sins would eventually lead to John's arrest and beheading. Nevertheless he was willing to risk his life to proclaim the good news and do God's will in calling people to repentance.

Much ado is made of Jesus' baptism. For example, why would he need to be baptized if he were not in need of repentance? Was this a symbol of him entering the royal priesthood? Was he being baptized for the sins of all people or as a model for all of us to follow? All of these ideas are conjecture that must be read into the text. Jesus simply told John that he must baptized "to fulfill all righteousness". John certainly did not feel qualified for such a task, but he did as the Lord commanded. And the Trinity danced in the waters of the Jordan - the voice of the Father expressing his pleasure, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and Jesus beginning his ministry in humility as an example to us all.

Luke the historian gives us the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam and God himself. Perhaps tracing back to Adam  implies that through Jesus salvation is offered to all mankind. Several of the names jump out as men of the Old Testament - King David, Boaz, Abraham, Noah, and Adam among others. Reading these names brings to mind stories of mighty feats done for God, redemption, a chosen people, and even how God uses flawed people to carry out his purposes.

Although the men are mentioned, we know from Old Testament history that some interesting woman are on this family tree. It contains a woman (Tamar) who dressed as a prostitute to convince her father in law to fulfill his duty and produce an heir for her dead husband, an adulteress (Bathsheba), a foreign prostitute (Rahab) who is eventually mentioned in the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11, and a Gentile Moabitess who left her family to care for her mother in law in a land she did not know (Naomi).

The names we know from the historical record give depth to the our knowledge of the heritage given to Jesus from the human side of his being. But I always wonder about those we know nothing about - Melchi, the son of Addi and the like. Were they righteous? Did they raise their children to fear the Lord, or were some generations lost to the paganism of the surrounding culture? Regardless it is clear that by the time of Jesus' birth, Mary and Joseph families were upright followers of the Law and loved God with their hearts souls and minds. All the times we skip the biblical genealogies or rush through them in our yearly Bible readings we are missing an opportunity to ponder how the generations fly by, leaving only a legacy that either leads those who come after us to repentance or draws them away.

What legacy will you leave today?

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. - Psalm 103:17-18

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