Who Defines You? (Luke 3.23-38)

How much do you value the connections in your life? You have heard it said: “It is not what you know but who you know.” Usually that is spoken with contempt. But all would likely agree that we neglect important relationships to our own hurt. Connections to parents, spouses, siblings, friends and community leaders strengthen our lives. Even deceased relatives teach us about things about ourselves. No doubt you have heard the recent news about the five year old discovered to be living with a couple who were very obviously not her parents. Without paperwork showing an adoption, the authorities have begun an international search for someone or something that will tell them who she is. What does life have in store for that little girl? As I write, she has no connections. I hope she will be able to enjoy the connections that a loving family brings.

Many go to a great deal of work to discover their genealogical records and find their distant family. We have enjoyed the fruit of several new relationships because of such work. It doesn’t always turn out so well. One man, as the story goes, paid five hundred dollars to discover his distant relatives and then paid a thousand to keep them secret. For most of us genealogical research and the study of tombstones is not enticing. What benefit is really gained? Even so, the Bible contains ancestral records. In both the Old and the New Testaments, biblical writers gave valuable space to detailed records. These are there to teach and instruct.

Luke included the genealogy of Jesus in his gospel account as Matthew did. It wasn’t ‘filler.’ No, the fact is that Jesus can be rightly understood only when he is rightly identified. Luke, even though writing for a non-Jewish audience, was fully convinced of that. The story of John the Baptist, the baptism of Jesus and the genealogy of Jesus fit together like pieces of a puzzle designed for that arrangement. God’s affirming voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism leads logically into the details of His ancestry.

The key is that you read the Gospel of Luke like you are listening to a friend. Luke designs to pull you into all he has learned so that you will want to know Jesus. Luke is not ambivalent about your conclusions. He is determined to be sure you have all the necessary information needed to know Jesus rightly. You can trust that fact. The author clearly desires to set Jesus’ incredible victories, amazing miracles and powerful sermons in a light that will enable you to view the whole magnificent reality of His life and death. Who is this that can do what He does and say what He says? Who can say to a paralytic: “Your sins are forgiven.” and then tell him to get up and walk? To answer that, you must understand Jesus in the light of His connections as a son. He is the Son of God and the son of Adam. Jesus is like us. Jesus is very different from us.

Jesus’ connections matter. Your connections do too. Luke is prodding you and me to think carefully. Ponder the question: “Who is this Jesus?” But you also need to ponder: “Who am I?” Look at your connections. It really is true that what you know is not as significant as who you know. I know I am a son of Adam and I grasp some of what is implied by that. “Sin and want and sorrow” have been the lot of all who descended from him. In a very real sense my life is defined by that relationship. But I am very thankful for Luke’s gospel. I have come to know and love the Jesus that he loved. By faith we have a relationship. The trials that my relationship to Adam brings are transformed by my relationship to Jesus. He is the one you need to know.

 “I belong to Jesus, I am not my own; all I have and all I am shall be his alone. I belong to Jesus, he has died for me; I am his and he is mine through eternity.”  (Hymn by M. Fraser).

Roger G. Collins, Grace Presbyterian Church, Byram; *English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. Exported from Logos Bible Software; Originally published in the November 2013 Byram Banner, Byram Mississippi.

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