by the Gospel Writers
MARK'S ACCOUNT BEGINS SIMPLY,
beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
introduces the reader to the good news about Jesus the Christ which is about to
be told. That good news is beautifully summarized by John in a prologue to his
account. It begins, as does the first book of Old Testament Scripture, with the
creation of man, and shows that the Word (a designation for God as Christ) was
not only the source through which all things were made, but also came into this
world in human form as the man Jesus. It also shows that, through Jesus,
mankind has received the grace of God unto salvation, as attested to during
Christ’s ministry by John the Baptist, a special messenger of God.
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was
with God in the beginning.
him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In
him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the
darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to
testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He
himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true
light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
He was in
the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not
recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive
him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave
the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband—s will, but born of God.
became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory
of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I
said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before
me.’” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one
blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth
came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only,
who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
own introduction, Luke writes to a man by the name of Theophilus in order to
provide a more complete narrative of the life and work of this incarnate Word,
Jesus the Christ, and of the things accomplished by Jesus’ followers.
Luke points out that, prior to his own account, other writers had already
undertaken to record the events surrounding Jesus’ coming and the work of
his disciples during his ministry. Thus the records of Christ began to be
compiled soon after his death and resurrection.
undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among
us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were
eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully
investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write
an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the
certainty of the things you have been taught.
The Genealogies of Jesus
account has no formal introduction, but rather begins with a genealogy tracing
the descent of Jesus from his ancestor, Abraham, through the royal lineage of
David the King. Matthew lists 42 of the known generations and divides these
into three groups of 14 each. The genealogy is traced through Jesus' legal
father, Joseph, as the husband of the virgin Mary, to whom Jesus was born.
genealogy contains several happy surprises. Back in Jesus’ early roots
are not only such notable righteous men as Abraham and David, but also several
who stand out in history as being particularly unrighteous, including wicked
King Manasseh. Not only are there Jews, as would be expected, but also
Gentiles, including a Canaanite and a Moabite, whose respective countrymen have
been notorious enemies of God’s people. Also somewhat surprising, in view
of their social status at this time, is the listing of women as well as men.
Furthermore, at least two of the women are known best for sins which they had
of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus,
who is called Christ.
there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from
David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the
provides a genealogy of Jesus, but his account traces the lineage directly
through Jesus’ mother, Mary. This explains the difference in ancestors
from Heli (assumed to be the father-in-law of Mary's husband, Joseph) to David.
Luke's genealogy also goes beyond Abraham, all the way back through Noah,
Enoch, Seth, and Adam to God himself, who created the human race.
the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,
the son of Heli, the son of Matthat,
the son of Levi, the son of Melki,
the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,
the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos,
the son of Nahum, the son of Esli,
the son of Naggai, the son of Maath,
the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein,
the son of Josech, the son of Joda,
the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa,
the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,
the son of Neri, the son of Melki,
the son of Addi, the son of Cosam,
the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,
the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer,
the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat,
the son of Levi, the son of Simeon,
the son of Judah, the son of Joseph,
the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,
the son of Melea, the son of Menna,
the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan,
the son of David, the son of Jesse,
the son of Obed, the son of Boaz,
the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram,
the son of Hezron, the son of Perez,
the son of Judah, the son of Jacob,
the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham,
the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
the son of Serug, the son of Reu,
the son of Peleg, the son of Eber,
the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan,
the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem,
the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch,
the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel
the son of Kenan, the son of Enosh,
the son of Seth, the son of Adam,
the son of God.
the most significant aspect of these genealogies is the connection between
Jesus and his ancestor, King David. The prophets of old had repeatedly foretold
that the Messiah would be of the house of David, and a branch of Jesse,
David’s father. Therefore, from the Jews’ perspective, Jesus is of
the royal lineage and worthy to be King of Israel. While this brings comfort to
many, it brings confusion to others, who are expecting the Messiah to be the
same kind of political king as those who reigned before him.
remember the exact words you first spoke to a friend or loved one? Chances are
those first words were less than memorable. Even if you do remember the exact
words, was there nevertheless a feeling that nothing particularly special was
about to happen? Sometimes in human relationships the first words are quite
insignificant, hardly noteworthy. Beginnings are often inconsequential.
contrast, however, our relationship with God is laced through and through with
important beginnings. First, Christ comes to us as the Word, to assure us that
the God of creation wants to communicate with us. He cares so much about us
that he wants to reveal himself to us on the most intimate level
possible— through a person we can know and love. A person to whom we can reveal
our deepest feelings and darkest secrets. A person with whom we can share joy
and triumph as well as sorrow and tragedy.
Christ comes to us as a light which illuminates the darkness of our
understanding. It is through his example that we gain the richest insight into
how we can best live our lives. And shouldn’t we want to follow his
light? Can we possibly know our universe—or even ourselves—better
than the One who was with God in the beginning and the One through whom we were
made? Intelligent though we may be, we’re not so bright as to know what
is best for our lives on this earth. We need his guiding light.
Christ comes to us as flesh and blood, just as we are flesh and blood. Christ
wasn’t just some illusion of deity, or an academic concept, or a cold
belief system with which we could never possibly identify. Far from it. Jesus
Christ was a descendant of Adam, the same as you or I. He was not only the Son
of God, but also the Son of man. And the fact of his humanity is as important
as his deity, because it is only through his fleshly humanity that he can be
for us an example, an intercessor, a brother, and a friend.
universe itself began in much the same way. In the beginning there was
darkness, until God said, “Let there be light.” Through his spoken
word the worlds were framed, and from his word came light and life. This was
his first creation, by which we have our very existence. But Jesus has come
that we might become his new creation—through
the written Word, which is “a lamp to my feet and a light for my
path,” and through the incarnate Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, who is
the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
light, and flesh. Through these characteristics of Christ we have great beginnings
in our relationship with God. Through Christ we have communication, insight,
and companionship. Through Christ we have God within us.
written Word reflects the light, but Jesus himself is the Light. Which Word do we know best?