Here are four lessons from the genealogical list in Luke 3 that can deepen our appreciation of the Christmas story.
1. Jesus’ story is linked to the Bigger Story
Unlike Matthew, Luke doesn’t include Jesus’ genealogy at the beginning of his Gospel. He inserts Jesus’ genealogy as he begins the account of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 3:23-38). It’s his way of reminding us that Jesus’ story does not happen in isolation from the larger, biblical story. In fact, Luke’s placement of Jesus’ genealogy is a reminder to us that we cannot really understand Jesus’ story unless we see it in the context of the entire biblical story.
2. Jesus’ story was a long time in coming
There are 76 names included in the list in Luke 3 (77 if you include God’s name). While this list may be abbreviated, it’s still long, and it reminds us that Jesus’ arrival was a long-time in coming. The wait for Jesus’ birth is not measured in the months Mary carried him in her womb. The true wait is measured in centuries and millennia. That gives new meaning to the Christmas carol, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”
3. Jesus’ story is a story of God’s plan
As we read through the list of names in Jesus’ genealogy, we meet some who were given a glimpse of God’s plan for the coming Saviour. Adam (3:38) was promised that one day the “seed of the woman” would come to crush the power of the Serpent (Genesis 3:15). Biblical scholars sometimes refer to Genesis 3:15 as the “protoevangelium” (the first gospel). Abraham was told his “seed” would bless “all peoples on earth” (Genesis 12:3, 7). David was promised an enduring kingdom, a throne that would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16). While the plan unfolded slowly from our perspective (2 Peter 3:8-9), God was relentlessly working His plan—generation after generation.
4. Jesus story is a story for all people–including you and me!
By tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to Adam, Luke reminds us of a key truth: Jesus is God’s gift to all people. By presenting Jesus’ genealogical record, virgin birth, sinless life, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection, Luke introduces us to the One who is our world’s only, true hope. All people need a Saviour; Jesus is the Saviour we all need. If you haven’t linked your story to Jesus through believing and following Him, you can do that this Christmas. He’s the best gift you will ever receive.