Gospel Message & Recording
The genealogy recorded in the Gospel of Luke, (Luke 3:23-38), as well as the genealogy recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, (Matthew 1:1-17), have similarities and differences, much of which we are not able to explain here, due to brevity, and scholarship that is beyond the scope of this sermon. However, for matters that are relevant, let me list some key points:
- Luke begins with Adam but Matthew begins with Abraham.
- Both genealogies are similar from Abraham to David but from there the divergence begins.
- In Matthew, the genealogy after David is Solomon but in Luke it is Nathan.
- A general understanding of both genealogies is that Matthew is the line of Joseph and Luke is the line of Mary; but this is not conclusive; there have be varying view concerning this point.
- The extreme divergences (stark difference) in both genealogies exist because the objectives are different. In other words, it’s not a mistake, but rather, purposefully written. St. John of Damascus has written the following concerning Luke’s genealogy, “One ought also to observe this, that the law was that when a man died without seed, this man's brother should take to wife the wife of the dead man and raise up seed to his brother.” Therefore, Luke is the legal genealogy, that is, a list of the legal airs that reflects the quote above. Matthew is thereby the biological genealogy. Both are accurate.
In the life of the Church, the genealogies have been viewed as historical as well as spiritual. Here, I want to expound on the spiritual aspect.
Luke’s genealogy begins with Adam and ends with Jesus. Luke is presenting a narrative in addition to a genealogy, which means, his goal in writing the genealogy is both historical and spiritual. Luke is demonstrating that the lineage of Jesus goes back to Adam, that is, Jesus is the new Adam. Further, Luke is saying that the fall of Adam is being restored by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the New Adam. Hence, another reason why the list is from Adam to Jesus.
In both genealogies, but particularly in Matthew’s, there are names listed that are morally questionable. For example, Judah sleeps with the woman engaged to his son. David, even though he is a prophet and king, reminds us of how susceptible a man’s passions can become. In other words, Jesus’ lineage is not clean or prefect. It’s filled with people who are sinners---the rejected, the hopeless, the homeless, the murder, and the adulterer. And it seems that there is an ardent-deliberate attempt by Luke and Matthew to accentuate this part of Jesus’s lineage. Rightfully so, because the writes are attempting to demonstrate Jesus is “really a human being.” Being a human is to be sinful and messy, and if Jesus is really a human, then he is a part of this sinful messy human lineage.
There is even a greater message: that in being a “true” human (and true God) Jesus understood the “nature” of a human, that is--the emotions, the feelings, the hurt, the sorrow, the pain, the agony, the joy, the love, the happiness. He himself felt and understood what we as humans go through in life. For example, he wept at Lazarus tomb. (John 11:35) He cried out in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 14:33-34) He loved his parents, Joseph and Mary. As a child I am sure he laughed and played with his friends. He was happy and had a good time at Matthew’s house partyJ. (Matthew 9:10-12) Therefore, we can say without any doubt that now, at present, Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, (Hebrews 13:8) understands what we are currently going through in our life. We have a God who feels our pain and wants to help us through it. That is an extraordinary/amazing reality that Jesus felt, and can feel, what we are feeling. No other religion has this particularity in regard to its founder—only Christianity.
In addition to that, the Gospel writes in including the “good” and the “bad” in the Lord’s lineage, demonstrate to us that everything in our life, the mistakes, the difficulties, the trials, as well as the victories and joy, are all part of our salvation. In other words, we should not only speak of the victories in our life but also the hardships. Everything converges together to make us who we are. Rather than being ashamed of our trials or problems, we should embrace, using them as a way to witness the mercy, grace, forgiveness and love of God. We can, therefore, say that the so-called “good” and “bad” converged to bring about the God-Man, who is Himself the embodiment of mercy, grace, forgiveness and love.
As we prepare for the birth of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, let us reflect on all that has happened in our life, and Praise God for His love, which endures forever.
- Do you often feel ashamed of your past? If so, what have you done about it? Have you gone to confession? Have you asked forgiveness from people that you hurt?
- What are some ways that you can overcome the tendency to be ashamed of the past? How can we, or what are the methods we can use, to embrace our past, and use it to fulfill God’s plan in our life?
- “Everything converges together to make us who we are. Rather than being ashamed of our trials or problems, we should embrace them, using them as a way to witness the mercy, grace, forgiveness and love of God. We can, therefore, say that the so-called “good” and “bad” converged to bring about the God-Man, who is mercy, grace, forgiveness and love.” Discuss. Comment.
- “We have a God who feels our pain and wants to help us through it. That is an extraordinary/amazing reality that Jesus felt, and can feel, what we are feeling. No other religion has this particularity in regard to its founder—only Christianity.“ Discuss. Comment.