By Paul Tautges
Yesterday morning, in our worship service, we learned from Luke’s genealogy of Jesus Christ and ended by focusing on the final two designations: son of Adam, son of God. Why is it significant that Luke ends his genealogy this way? God’s gracious work of redemption for sinners like you and me is dependent upon a non-negotiable. The one sent to rescue sinners from judgment and restore us to fellowship with our Creator must be both fully divine and fully human. A true mediator must be truly concerned about the well-being of both parties, or he does not qualify. Therefore, it is said of our Savior “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5-6). Herein lies the importance of Luke’s genealogy. What may at first appear to be just a long list of mostly-unknown men is in reality an essential part of Luke’s presentation of Jesus Christ as the one-and-only Savior of mankind.
Luke has already adequately presented Jesus as fully divine.
- He did this by informing us that Jesus was conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit in the virgin’s womb (1:31).
- He did this by informing us that His name would be the Son of the Most High (1:32).
- He told us that the unborn John—the one sent to prepare the way for the Messiah—leaped in his mother’s womb when he first came into the presence of the unborn Jesus.
- In Chapter 2, Luke describes the scene of Jesus’ birth. Though it was humble it was celebrated by the angels.
- We also witnessed his reception at Jerusalem when he was 8-days old. There the Holy Spirit revealed to an elderly man named Simeon and an 84-year old woman named Anna that the infant Jesus was the long-awaited, promised one.
- In Chapter 3 we witnessed the baptism of Jesus. John submitted to the one who was mightier than he and God declared from heaven that Jesus was His beloved Son (3:22).
The full divinity of Jesus is now clearly established in the mind of Luke’s readers. But what about His humanity? Just who is the Jesus anyway? The first-century mind would not merely going to accept the historical reality of a man who came out of no-where. He must have a reliable, reputable-to-the-Jews ancestry, or nothing else about Him is believable.
Son of Adam: The humanity of Jesus is traced all the way back through Abraham and Noah to Adam, the first man.Adam, of course, is most famous for being the father of sin. It was through one man that sin entered into the world (Rom 5:12). By tracing Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam, Luke shows how Jesus legitimately identifies with sinners. Every man named in this genealogy died. That’s what they had in common. Every one of them was a sinner. They were just like us. Philip Ryken writes,
[T]hese men were people like us, with the same kinds of ambitions that we have, the same joys and sorrows. They suffered the things that we suffer and celebrated the things that we celebrate. They were also guilty of the same kinds of sins. All of these men were sinners. It is nice to think that our ancestors were noble and good, that they did something heroic. This is one of the reasons why people like to study their family trees. But whether they were heroic or not, the people who came before us were as deeply flawed as we are. We could infer this from the pages of the Bible. Consider some of the skeletons in this family closet, as recorded in the Old Testament. Terah was an idolater. Abraham was a liar. Jacob was a cheater and a thief. Judah traded slaves and consorted with prostitutes. David was a murderer and adulterer. We usually remember these men as heroes, but they were also scoundrels—all the way back to Adam, at the taproot of the family tree. Like any genealogy, the one in Luke’s Gospel records a long line of sinners.
The only way for God’s messiah to rescue sinners was for Him to become like them—not in sinfulness—but in the fullness of humanity, experiencing every temptation but never giving in to any of them, and knowing every aspect of what it means to be fully human. Therefore, Luke makes it clear that Jesus is the son of Adam.
As the son of Adam, Jesus Christ is the Second Adam, the Last Adam, the man who came to undo the evil done by the first man. This was to demonstrate God’s grace toward sinners. As Paul writes in Romans, “For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many” (Rom 5:15). It would be impossible for Jesus to be our Savior if His ancestry could not be traced back to Adam. He is the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of Adam, and also the son of God.
Son of God: “Son of God” is not only Luke’s way of again stressing His deity, but this designation also reminds the reader of Jesus’ unique birth. He was not conceived by normal relations of a man and woman. No, God was His Father. Mary was the only human component in His conception. God gave His only-begotten Son to be the Savior of the world (Jn 3:16-17). God loves sinners and He desires for you and me to be restored to fellowship with Him.
When God created man and woman in the Garden of Eden, He did so with the intention that they would know Him, love Him, and walk with Him forever. But something changed that. They sinned. Adam and Eve deliberately chose to rebel against God’s good sovereignty over them. They rejected Him as their king and established themselves upon the throne. By doing so, they declared themselves sovereign. But God’s great love and grace was extended to them in the depth of their rebellion. He killed an animal to provide coverings for their sin—the foreshadow of the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of mankind. God would not leave them in their rebellion…separated from His love and blessing. Instead He chose to send a mediator to restore the relationship. But that mediator had to legitimately connect both sides. He had to be both God and man.
He had to be divine—He must be God.
But He also had to be human—He had to be made of the same human DNA as you and I—going back all the way to Adam.
This is Jesus Christ. He is the God-man. He is a son of Adam. He is the Son of God. Believing in Him is the only pathway to eternal life. The Gospel of John concludes with these words, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:31). God says you can know that you have eternal life.
And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. – 1 John 5:11-13
Do you know this Jesus?
Dr. Paul Tautges serves as pastor of Immanuel Bible Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and has authored the books Counsel One Another, Comfort Those Who Grieve and The Discipline of Mercy. Dr. Tautges also blogs at Counseling One Another and Biblical Counseling Coalition.