The Baptism of Jesus
(Matthew 3.13-17; Mark 1.9-11)
21While everyone else was being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. Then as he prayed, the sky opened up, 22 and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.”
The Ancestors of Jesus
23When Jesus began to preach, he was about 30 years old. Everyone thought he was the son of Joseph. But his family went back through Heli, 24Matthat, Levi, Melchi, Jannai, Joseph, 25Mattathias, Amos, Nahum, Esli, Naggai, 26Maath, Mattathias, Semein, Josech, Joda;
27Joanan, Rhesa, Zerubbabel, Shealtiel, Neri, 28Melchi, Addi, Cosam, Elmadam, Er, 29Joshua, Eliezer, Jorim, Matthat, Levi;
30Simeon, Judah, Joseph, Jonam, Eliakim, 31Melea, Menna, Mattatha, Nathan, David, 32Jesse, Obed, Boaz, Salmon, Nahshon;
33Amminadab, Admin, Arni, Hezron, Perez, Judah, 34Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Terah, Nahor, 35Serug, Reu, Peleg, Eber, Shelah;
36Cainan, Arphaxad, Shem, Noah, Lamech, 37Methuselah, Enoch, Jared, Mahalaleel, Kenan,
Luke traces Jesus’ lineage through the paternal line (unlike Matthew, who traces it through the maternal line, with some startling surprises). Luke produces a pedigree of fathers and sons. The single dominant refrain of the entire passage: “he was the son of….”
Maybe nothing locates us as quickly and precisely in the human story as that little prepositional clause, the son of…. So much distils into that. It is, variously, a story of hurt and betrayal, or of trust and belonging, of courage or cowardice, of integrity or duplicity.
Jesus’ lineage includes an adulterer-murderer (David), a con-artist (Jacob), a blood-thirsty avenger (Lamech). Some of these forebears, even several generations removed, are hard to live down. All this heredity, even many centuries diluted, still runs in the veins.
But Luke begins Jesus’ family tree with a paternity that trumps all: “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
What son or daughter does not long to hear such words from their father? This is the voice of extravagant love, of unhesitating acceptance. This is the voice of one who beams with pride over his child.
But there’s more. This Father’s genetic imprint and moral influence overrides all others. The Father’s love redeems all the brokenness that otherwise we might inherit. His voice speaks above all the silences or curses we otherwise might have lived under. This Father has the last word. And the word that begins all others.
John says whoever receives Jesus Christ, the Son, likewise inherits all the son’s rights (John 1:11-12; Romans 8:16-17). In him, we can cry, “Abba,” Because of him, we can hear the voice from heaven: “You are mine. I love you. With you I am well pleased.”
I thank you that in Christ Jesus I can call you that. May I continue to hear your voice of love. May it be the voice that speaks loudest. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen