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of December 1997
Next up-date: 5th January1998 (God willing).
Why do we have the story of Jesus in four different books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? And why do they contain two apparently different family trees for Him? Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38.
The four gospels
We require four versions of the life of Jesus in order to comprehend some of the depth of His character.
Matthew writes of Him predominately as one should of the King of kings, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Matthew 2:2; 21:15; 25:34; 27:11; 27:29,37.
Mark pictures Him mainly as a Burden-bearer, an ox or Worker, who invites us to share the load with Him. In a short, vigorous text, and using picturesque words he shows us a Man of action performing many miracles. Mark 1:23, 31,41; 2:11-12, 3:5 etc.
Luke, the Greek doctor, sees Him most clearly as a Man, the Son of man, a fellow servant who shows us the way of righteousness. Luke 5:24; 6:5; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 12:10 etc.
John, the blessed disciple, lifts Him up as the Son of God, an eagle flying high between the two worlds. John 1:34, 49; 3:18; 9:35; 11:27.
These four representations were first noted by Ezekiel when he saw the cherubims who accompany Jesus on His travels as the Son of God. "As for the likeness of their faces, they four [each] had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle". Ezekiel 1.10.
Later, he applied this symbolism to earthly creatures as well. "As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, 'O wheel'. And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle". Ezekiel 10.13-14. Here the face of the ox has changed into the face of a cherub but the characterizations remain.
It requires all four of these just to show the extent of sinlessness.
The two genealogies.
The two lists of the family of Jesus are set out in Matthew 1 and Luke 3.
In Matthew the emphasis is on Kingship. He starts his family tree with the words, "Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham". Chapter 1:1. The father of the faithful is here set out as the main ancestor of Jesus, then the tree descends to David the king in verse 6 with the significant words, " ... and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias [Bathsheba]..." The line then follows the descendants of that son until it reaches "Jacob [who] begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ". Verse 16. Thus the legal claim of Jesus to the throne of Judah is established. Although He was NOT the son of Joseph the marriage of Joseph and Mary legalized His position.
Luke, on the other hand, is not concerned with Jewish legal niceties. He desires to take his readers back to Jesus as the Son of God. Verse 38. To this end he concentrates on "Jesus... being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son [son-in-law, margin] of Heli..." Luke 3:23. Here Luke follows the line of the father of Mary instead of the father of Joseph. By doing this he assures his readers that even though Jesus was the natural son of Mary, she also was related to Abraham through another of David's sons, Nathan, and through him he traces His line back to Adam the son of God. Verse 31.
Thus both genealogies serve the same purpose. To establish His right to the throne of David as it had been prophesied in Ezekiel and also His connection to the Living God. It had been written in the days of the last king of Judah, "Remove the diadem, and take off the crown. This shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is and I will give it [to] Him". Ezekiel 21:26-27.
It requires four books with four different emphases to lay out before us some of the depths of Jesus' character which is the standard or norm of Christianity.
It requires two genealogies to perfect the claim of Jesus to the throne of David, both legally and naturally.
King of kings:
Jesus is the "Son of David" and therefore heir to the throne, naturally through His mother and also legally through her husband. Revelation 19:16.
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