Gordon-Conwell Blog

Advent Devotional Day 13: Our Genealogy in Christ

December 15, 2017

2017 Gordon-Conwell Advent Devotional

Day 13 | Our Genealogy in Christ

Luke 3:21-37


When reading through the Bible, many likely skip over the sections in our passage today: the genealogy of Jesus. Generations upon generations—so many unusual, even odd names. Why are all these names even included? Remarkably, these detailed lists of ancestors were recorded by virtually every family in Israel. They functioned as legal documents, providing evidence of a person’s authentic status as a true Jew, all the more important after the exile when mixed marriages created ambiguity of lineage. However, far more significant was the sense that these documents validated their family’s connection to the past, thus providing understanding of one’s present identity.

How different our perception of our historical significance is today.  Contemporary studies suggest families are being replaced by communities of friends, with those communities being neither stable nor long-lasting. Not so with the Scriptures, where one’s lineage is critical in defining a great deal of one’s identity. This reality has not ceased in our time, although it may be consistently denied. 

Why is this genealogy of Jesus so important in Luke’s gospel? It is the museum of human history for Luke. It reveals (confirms) Jesus was the son of Adam and also the Son of God. It reminds us that Jesus really is fully human and fully divine. It is also our genealogy if we are “in Christ.” Though we are fully human, and not divine, nonetheless this is our story and our lineage by faith. We have been ingrafted into the very family of God when the Spirit of God works in our hearts to embrace Jesus. Our adoption is good news indeed.  

Years ago, I remember flying into Johannesburg, South Africa. Sitting beside me was an African American friend of mine, tears running down his face as he visited the continent of Africa for the first time. He was overwhelmed by the sense of loss—most acutely the loss of knowing where he had come from and the tragic break in his family line due to the history of the slave trade. However, they were also tears of joy as he sensed a “coming home” to a place where his genealogy might have been rooted. May you have that sense of “coming home” this Advent season as you discover your true lineage in Christ.

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     Dr. Richard Lints
     Vice President for Academic Affairs;
Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Theology


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