Are You the Son of God?
UKE’S Gospel includes the most famous passage about the Incarnation thanks to Charlie Brown’s friend Linus. Luke then gives precious few details about Jesus’s childhood, mainly an anecdote about Jesus getting left behind in a Temple. The next logical step is for Luke to trace out Jesus’s genealogy. I’m kidding. It kind of doesn’t make sense why he does it that way.
Mathew’s gopel begins with Jesus’ genealogy. Mark’s gospel begins with John the Baptist and Jesus’ baptism. What is Luke doing giving us a description of the birth of Jesus, a brief reference of Jesus in childhood, and only then moving to a genealogy. What is this guy thinking? It seems backwards.
Luke’s genealogy goes through who was the son of whom over and over again until you get to Adam, the first man. Unlike Matthew, Luke goes in reverse order beginning with Jesus and going backwards. Also, unlike Matthew’s genealogy, Luke doesn’t mention any women. For every generation listed, Luke says they are the son of so-and-so man. There’s some earthly father referenced, some proud dad smoking a cigar outside the delivery room. But Luke ends the third chapter of his gospel by saying that Adam was “the son of God.” That’s different.
Enter chapter four. Luke gives us a description of Jesus’s temptation by the devil. The first thing the devil says to the Messiah is, “If you are the son of God . . . ” (Luke 4:3). Now we can see that Luke provides a genealogy of Jesus in reverse order to get us back to Adam, the son of God. Luke is giving a backdrop for the temptation of Jesus.
The devil is about to tempt Jesus’s divinity by appealing to his humanity. Adam had a unique relationship to God, different from everyone who followed. How was Jesus different than all his forefathers? What connected him in a unique way to Adam? Did Jesus have a unique relationship with the Father? Was it possible Jesus was both the “son of man” and the “son of God?”
This is the critical reality of the Incarnation. This is what the Apostle John begins his gospel with, “In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word became flesh.” This Christmas we celebrate the one who was the son of Joseph and the son of Adam. But he was also the son of God. And he proved it by not giving into to the carnal temptations of the devil and not being subject to the authority of death.
Joy to the Word, a child is born: the son of Adam, and the son of God.