Luke 3:21-38

21When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

23Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,
the son of Heli, 24the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, 38the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (NIV)

(Parallel accounts: Matt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11)

Main Points

1. Jesus was baptized (v. 21).

-NOT because he needed repentance, since he was without sin (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15). So why was he baptized?

a) “to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:13-15), i.e. since baptism was one of the last things required by the Law (Lk 16:16), Jesus underwent it to fulfill the law in our stead (Mt 5:17) so that his perfect record of obedience (i.e. righteousness) could be ours by faith (Rom 5:19; 2 Co 5:21).

b) to identify himself with humanity (v. 21) so that he “might be a merciful and faithful high priest”, satisfying God’s justice on behalf of sinners (Heb 2:14-17).

c) to signify the beginning of his mission, as this was the moment that he received the Father’s approval and the Spirit’s power and presence (see v. 22).

2. Jesus gave himself to prayer (v. 21).

Luke loves to show Jesus in prayer, especially at pivotal turning points in his ministry (5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 22:41; 23:34)

- since a servant is not above his master (Jn 13:16), if Jesus showed reliance upon the Father by praying constantly to Him, how much more must we (Mt 26:41; Col 4:2; Eph 6:18; 1 Th 5:17)!

3. Jesus’ mission is ultimately not His alone, but has the full involvement and blessing of the Holy Trinity (v. 22).

- the Holy Spirit came upon Him, and the Father spoke with great approval.
- These actions are understood best when we realize that the Father sent the Son (Jn 6:37-39; Heb 10:5-7) and the Holy Spirit serves the Son by empowering Him (Acts 10:37-38) and taking Christ’s words and making them known to the apostles (and, by extension, to the church) (Jn 16:14-15).

4. Christ’s genealogy can be traced all the way back to the first (in a sense) “son of God”, Adam (vv. 23-38).

What does Luke hope to show? Possibly that

a) by not stopping the genealogy at David or Abraham – but going all the way back to Adam (v. 38) – Luke shows how Christ aligns Himself not just with Jews such as Abraham and David (compare to Matt 1:1ff), but with all men and women.

b) by referring to “Adam, the son of God”, Luke might be inviting a comparison between Jesus (who was just called “my beloved Son” by the Father in v. 22) and Adam, in order to demonstrate how Jesus succeeded where Adam failed (see especially next week’s passage – Luke 4:1-13; compare and contrast this passage with Genesis 3! See also Rom 5:12-19).

Discussion Question:

How does this passage help you appreciate who Jesus is and what He came to do?