In a previous article I discussed a certain Jechonias in the genealogy of Jesus Christ according to the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel. God cursed his lineage and Christ could not have been born from his bloodline. In fact, he was the last king to sit on the throne. Joseph, Mary’s husband was from this lineage, but could not be Jesus’ father by blood. The virgin birth was God’s way of keeping his promise to David. Furthermore, it also showed He was serious about His judgements.
The genealogy of Jesus Christ according to Luke
There is however, another remarkable twist in this tale. This we find in the genealogy of Jesus Christ as Luke recorded it (Luke 3:21-38). A quick reading of this genealogy would create the impression that Matthew and Luke are contradicting each other big time. But, we have to see that the focus of Matthew was the Jews, whereas the focus of Luke was the gentile world. Although both follow the patristic rule of genealogy, Matthew is following the true lineage of Joseph, while Luke is in actual fact following the lineage of Mary.
The patristic rule stated that the genealogy was always recorded from the father’s bloodline and not the mother’s. To this both writers adhere. Now in Luke 3:23 we find the so-called confusion:
“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.”
The Greek term translated “as was supposed” can also be translated “as was recorded by law”. The idea behind this term is not so much the “supposedness”, as it was the practice by law to follow the patristic system in genealogies. Luke was by law forced to to this, but in actual fact was following Christ’s bloodline through Mary.
The bloodline of Mary
A careful investigation into the two genealogies, show that in Luke we are in actual fact following a different bloodline from the one in Matthew. To see this, we have to trace both genealogies up to a common ancestor. And lo and behold, we find that common ancestor in none other than King David! Luke 3:31 and Matthew 1:6 gives us this point where the two bloodlines split.
Whereas Joseph’s line is then traced through Solomon, we see that Mary’s line goes through Nathan. (I wonder if God did not do this to show His control of history. He sat back smiling I think at the sheer marvel of what happened here. Remember that Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba and he had the privilege of building God’s temple. He was thus the perfect candidate to have the Messiah from his lineage. But, this is the humour in it, it was the prophet Nathan who came to David to expose his sin with Bathsheba. I know there is no Scriptural evidence and also do not present this as dogma – it is a piece of humour I find in God’s dealings in history).
The point under consideration here, is that although Jesus could not have royal blood from His earthly father, He in actual fact did have it from his mother’s side. Although Nathan’s line was not the official royal line, i.e. they did not reign as kings on the throne, his dad was the king to whom an offspring was promised who would sit on his throne forever. There was thus more than enough evidence to the royal bloodline of Jesus. He was a king because his mother had royal blood traced to King David. Furthermore, He was a king because his “stepfather” accepted Him as son and cared for Him as his own and by Jewish law this was enough to be regarded as a true son and inherit all the privileges a son had.
A double royal bloodline
Thus God secured His Son’s bloodline by bringing together two people from the same common royal ancestor to whom He made an everlasting promise that He was not willing to break or compromise in any way. Paul picks this up in a certain sense when he writes that in the fullness of time God sent His Son “made of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). This cuts both ways, namely the virgin birth as well as the royal bloodline.
Truly, God is exalted far above what we can dream or think or imagine or understand. There is no way that coincidence could have bring all of this to fulfillment. As the song goes:
“Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above with wisdom, power and might, Our God is an awesome God.”
The next time someone tells you that the virgin birth was not needed and we do not need to hold to it any more, that Jesus Christ was but a man with a strong sense of morality and doing good works, you need only look at the genealogies and stand in awe of God’s wisdom and sovereignty.