Jesus in Bible Genealogy

When you were a kid, you probably just glossed over the “begats” of genealogies, but as an adult, you know it wouldn’t still be in the Bible if it wasn’t important! But do you know why? For this week’s Bible Reading Challenge, we’re going to tap into how you can see Jesus in the genealogies…

Genealogies in the New Testament

There are two genealogies in the New Testament. Both belong to Jesus. The gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, each record Jesus’ genealogy in their gospels. However, their genealogies are not identical. Matthew traces Jesus’ family history back to Abraham; Luke goes all the way back to Adam. Neither writer lists all the individuals in the family. These writers include only key names, but they don’t always select the same names.

Two Genealogies

The two gospel writers Matthew and Luke, who include Jesus’ genealogy, were writing to different audiences. The differences between their genealogies may reflect the differences between the audiences they were trying to reach to give the good news of Jesus.

Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience. It was an audience that wondered whether Jesus was really the promised Messiah (see Jer. 23:4; 33:15). Matthew wanted to assure new Jewish believers, or Jews interested in the message of Jesus, that Jesus was a true Israelite, had descended from David, was the rightful King of Israel, and was the promised Messiah. Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus traces Jesus’ legal descent from King David.

More than the other gospel writers, Matthew focuses on the many ways that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament promises about the Messiah and God’s plans to bring salvation to the world. Matthew presents Jesus as the true Israel in whom God’s promises are being fulfilled.

Luke, on the other hand, was writing primarily for a Gentile audience. Luke wanted to show that the good news of Jesus is meant for the whole world, both Jews and Gentiles. Because the message of the gospel is for all peoples, Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam. Although in Luke’s account Jesus is the King of Israel, Luke also presents Jesus as the Savior of the whole world. Jesus’ coming is both a consequence of Israel’s history and the entire history of the world. In addition, Luke shows how Jesus’ mission is handed over to the church, Jesus’ followers.

Both genealogies arrive at the same conclusion: Jesus is Lord and Savior. However, by emphasizing two different sides of who Jesus is, they present us with a fuller picture of the life and ministry of Christ.

Jesus’ Identity and the Gospels

As humans, our identities as individuals are shaped in a large part by our families. In traditional societies, families extend beyond the immediate relatives of the clan; the larger community plays a defining role in developing the identity of each individual. Similarly, the society and history of those around Jesus shaped the way Jesus revealed himself as a human. This human identity of Christ is deeply rooted in the history of Israel in particular and in human history in general.

The two genealogies in the Gospels reflect Jesus’ identity in Israelite history and in human history. By looking back to the stories of those ancestors, we can better understand the reasons Jesus revealed his humanity the way he did. Such a study will illuminate his identity and enrich our understanding of his ministry. Just as the Gospels affirm a single conclusion, no matter which direction we take in this study, we will also conclude that Jesus is the Lord of history, the Redeemer of humanity, and the Restorer of all things (Acts 3:21).

This excerpt is from Jesus’ Family Tree.

Jesus’ Family Tree: Seeing God’s Faithfulness in the Genealogy of Christ

Enjoy Covering 30 Key People from Jesus’ Family Tree!

The remarkable heroes and heroines in the ancestry of Jesus teach us a lot about God’s faithfulness over the centuries. Each character in Jesus’ family tree gives us a glimpse of how God works all things – even the tragedies and missteps – together for good.

Packed with reproducible pages, timelines, family trees, and simple summaries, this incredible reference book gives a fantastic overview of 30 key people in Jesus’ ancestry. Perfect for students, pastors, Bible study teachers, and those interested in seeing God’s faithfulness throughout the Old and New Testament.

Bonus Item – Genealogy of Jesus Diagram: A fold-out family tree from Adam and Eve to Jesus Christ. Shows every person in the Bible who is listed in Jesus’ direct ancestry.

Reproducible! Just photocopy up to 300 copies for your Bible study, class, or Sunday school. Size: 8.75″ x 11.25″

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