Caution: As you read through this week's passage, you may be tempted (chapter four is all about temptation) to breeze right past Jesus' genealogy and chalk it up with those passages we often ignore in the Old Testament book of Numbers. Instead, take some time this week to turn to Matthew chapter one and read Matthew's genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17). Afterward, spend some time reading Luke's genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-38). The key question to ask about both of these genealogies: why does Matthew and Luke list the names they do? Could there be theological reasons?
Without delving too deeply into all of the differences we see in Jesus' genealogies, allow me to give you a few hints to look for as you read both accounts:
1) Matthew starts with Abraham and moves forward in time to Jesus.
Luke starts with Jesus and moves backward in time all the way to Adam. Frank Beare in The Earliest Records of Jesus says that Luke goes all the way back to Adam to show us that Jesus' mission embraces the entire human race.
2) Matthew tells us the Joseph's father was Jacob (Matthew 1:16).
Luke tells us that Joseph's father was Heli (Luke 3:23). A.T. Robertson and other scholars tell us that Luke's genealogy of Jesus could be through the line of Mary. Although Joseph is listed, Heli was believed to be Mary's father.
3) Matthew tells us that Jesus was born of David's line through Solomon (Matthew 1:6).
Luke tells us that Jesus was born of David's line through Nathan (Luke 3:31). Some scholars suggest that Luke is interested in telling us Jesus' priestly lineage through David rather than Jesus' royal lineage through King David and King Solomon.
The most interesting thing to consider about Luke's genealogy of Jesus, perhaps, is the fact that he ends the genealogy with Adam and picks up in Luke chapter four with the story of Jesus' temptation which reminds us of the temptation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.
There are several allusions to the Genesis 3 story in Luke's telling of Jesus' temptation. The serpent in Genesis 3 plants doubt in the mind of Eve (Genesis 3:1), and the devil tries to plant doubt in the mind of Jesus about his divinity in Luke 4:3. Adam's sin in Genesis 3 is eating the fruit he was forbidden to eat. Jesus conquers the temptation to turn a stone into bread and eat.
There are also important parallels with the temptation story in Luke 4 and the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy whose theme is worship of God alone. Each of Jesus' responses to the devil are from the Book of Deuteronomy. If you would like to look them up, here are the quotes: Luke 4:4 is equal to Deuteronomy 8:3. Luke 4:8 is parallel to Deuteronomy 6:13. Luke 4:12 is equal to Deuteronomy 6:16.
Most of all, the temptation story in Luke foreshadows the conflict of the passion and Jesus' victory over evil on the Cross of Calvary that we will see again later in Luke.
Temptation is something we all face in life. Jesus faced the temptations of humanity without sin. His victory over evil and the temptations of the evil one give us hope that through His Spirit alive in us, we too have power to overcome the temptations we face. We overcome these temptations by knowing the truth of God and living by it. The evil one will tempt us to doubt God's truth and make up our own truths. When we know the truth and live by it, the truth of Jesus Christ will set us free from temptation. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." - John 8:31-32