Genealogy is half the battle in sports. When you look at the parents of many high level athletes it just makes sense. The Manning brothers and their NFL father epitomize this. When two really good lifters get married, we anticipate the prestige and accomplishments their offspring will bring to the platform, such as Sydney Goad. “The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance” by David Epstein explores the science behind this.
In Luke 3, we get a really awesome look back at the genealogy of Christ. While Christ really is the fulfillment and shining star from that lineage, we get a clear picture of why He was such a big deal to the Jews at the time. Luke's Gospel chose to draw Jesus' lineage all the way back 77 generations for a specific purpose. First of all, Luke was a physician and a man focused on details. Literally his whole point for writing the Gospel is stated in the first chapter: to write an “orderly account.” Luke loved details and specifics! What's more he chose to draw the lineage back to Adam because he wanted to show Jesus as the fulfillment of the hope they had all been waiting for. Matthew only went back as far as Abraham because he was writing to a Jewish audience who cared most about Jesus' Jewish heritage. Luke was writing to a much broader audience and as a result, intended to show Jesus as the Messiah, the ultimate fulfillment of the hope they had been longing for.
I talked last week about Advent and how this particular season is designed as a time to set our hearts and minds on the reality that Jesus had come once (and rejoice in that), but also to stir our hearts in eager longing for His return. That feeling of waiting and anxiousness is one the Jews in the Intertestamental Period and in the New Testament would have been very familiar with. God had been silent for 400 years! The next time He spoke to His people? In the form of the newborn Christ!
Furthermore, there had always been a sense in which the Jews of the day were longing for this Messiah BECAUSE the Bible promised He would come. In Genesis 3 we see the first Adam, God's first created human, fall. We see Adam, in his failure, fall out of perfect intimacy with God and into a new form of life plagued by sin, toil, pain, and death. The Jews knew this story all too well. They also knew Genesis 3:15 where God promises that one day another Adam would come. Another man of the offspring of the woman would come and crush the head of the serpent and in so doing, crush sin. The Jews knew that one day the perfect fulfillment of Adam, the perfect Messiah would come to save them! They longed for this day. They looked at the genealogy of Adam and followed the prophecy. Not only would the Messiah come from Adam, but also through the line of Abraham (Gal 3:14) and later Jesse (Isaiah 11:1). This genealogy and line of men meant far more to these Jews than we can understand.
This list of 77 generation also represents two massive measures of our hope this Christmas season. First, it represents the important parallel between Adam and Jesus. Adam was perfect, but then he sinned. Adam was in perfect harmony with God in a perfect world designed for intimacy and joy, and then he watched Eve eat the apple. Adam brought sin into this world. Jesus remained perfect and never sinned despite intense temptations presented to Him. Jesus brings back the means for perfect harmony with our God and is the object of our hope for a new heaven and new earth in which believers will sit in perfect intimacy and joy with God. Jesus will destroy sin and deliver us from it for good. Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the broken picture of perfection that Adam once was. Jesus is the ever-faithful, uncompromised, God-man who will never fail us. This lineage shows how through so many men there was always failure and sin and yet 77 generations later, the perfect Messiah did in fact come, and God did in fact fulfill His promises through our Savior Jesus Christ!
Secondly, this lineage reminds us that we can trust in God's faithfulness. For thousands of years mankind waited and longed for a Messiah that would save them. Sadly most did not recognize Him for who He was, BUT His appearance in Bethlehem as a baby is the mark of God's faithful love to His people. He did come! What's more He will come again! Just as the Jewish men had to trust through so many generations that God would fulfill His promise, we find ourselves in anxious waiting for His return, TRUSTING that He will come again. Trusting that all the prophecies will come to fruition. Trusting that our God is a faithful God who keeps His covenants as He always has! (Deuteronomy 7:9) These 77 generations stand as one of MANY marks of God's faithful love and compassion to us. He has never left us and never forsaken us. He won't start now!
Jesus is coming again, and this Christmas season as we find ourselves celebrating His birth, the end of 77 generations of lineage, I pray we also would find ourselves longing for His return. I pray we would be overjoyed in God's faithfulness to send His Son to earth in human likeness that we might be saved from our sin, but also be encouraged that God's faithfulness doesn't stop there. He's coming back to make all things new! (Revelations 21:5)