Luke 3:21-38

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

July 12, 2000


We’ve seen the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist.

His message was “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”, or, telling people to get baptized as a sign of their own repentance, the repentance leading to the forgiveness of sins.

As the people wanted to know more about what this all meant, he gave them ways of putting God’s Word into their life.  He told them what “repentance” looked like.

To the “publicans”, Jewish tax collectors who worked for the Roman government, John told them to stop trying to get rich off their own people, but only collect what was appropriate.  To the soldiers, it meant being content with their wages and stopping the practice of manipulating or extorting people.

When some people began to wonder if John the Baptist was the Messiah, his response was,

(Luke 3:16-17 KJV)  John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: {17} Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

I understand that there was some kind of TV special about Jesus a few weeks back.  I’ve heard just a little about it, but I’d like to warn you not to learn your theology from TV.  Learn what you know about God from His Word.
I understand that one of the claims was that Jesus was just some kind of “assistant” to John the Baptist.  That’s backwards.  John considered himself unworthy to even tie Jesus’ shoes.

Last week we saw that John would be put in prison and eventually killed by Herod Antipas because John reproved Herod, reminding him of his sins.

:21-22 Baptism of Jesus

:21  Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

On the day that Jesus showed up to be baptized, He was just one of the crowd.

Sometimes we can get all starry-eyed when “crowds” show up, but the most important thing John would ever do was about to happen, and it only involved this one person.


Don’t lose the “one” in the crowd.

Sometimes we can get to thinking that God only works with the “crowd”.  But God works with the “one”.
Dwight L. Moody's conversion
As a young man of 18, he found himself placed in a Sunday School class, let by a man named Edward Kimball.
On Saturday morning, April 21, 1855, he “decided to speak to Moody about Christ and about his soul.  I started down town to Holton’s shoe store.  When I was nearly there I began to wonder whether I ought to go just then during business hours.  And I thought maybe my mission might embarrass the boy, that when I went away the other clerks might ask who I was, and when they learned might taunt Moody and ask if I was trying to make a good boy out of him.  While I was pondering over it all I passed the store without noticing it.  Then, when I found I had gone by the door I determined to make a dash for it and have it over at once.”
He found Moody in the back part wrapping up shoes in paper and stacking them on shelves.  “I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, and as I leaned over I placed my foot upon a shoe box.”  Looking down into Moody’s eyes he made what he thought afterwards a very weak plea.  Neither could ever recall the exact words, but “Kimball asked him to come to Christ, who loved him and who wanted his love and should have it.”  There were tears in Kimball’s eyes.
“It seemed,” Kimball recorded, “that the young man was just ready for the light that broke upon him, for there, at once, in the back of that shoe store in Boston, Moody gave himself and his life to Christ.”
Kimball slipped from the store a few minutes after he had entered.

from pg 27 of Moody Biography, John Pollock

Mr. Kimball was concerned about the one.
We might say that it was a “very important ONE”.  But to God, EACH one is important.  Is there a “one” in your life?

:22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him

bodilysomatikos – corporeal, bodily; having a bodily form or nature

shapeeidos – the external or outward appearance, form figure, shape

like ahosei – as it were, (had been), as though, as, like as, like

John the Baptist saw a vision of something descending upon Jesus that was in the form of a dove.

There are some people that have the strange idea that Jesus didn’t become the Messiah until His baptism.  Others hold to a similar idea that Jesus didn’t become the Son of God until the baptism, when the Holy Spirit came upon Him.

A.T. Robertson –

“We are not to understand that this was the beginning of the Incarnation of Christ as the Cerinthian Gnostics held. But this fresh influx of the Holy Spirit may have deepened the Messianic consciousness of Jesus and certainly revealed him to the Baptist as God’s Son.”


Ministry begins with the Holy Spirit.

This would fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah, describing the Messiah’s ministry:
(Isa 61:1-2 KJV)  The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; {2} To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

We’ll see this on Sunday morning (Isa. 61), but the point is that it’s the Holy Spirit that “anoints” us, that qualifies and equips us for the work that God has for us.

Even Jesus didn’t start His official ministry until He had the Holy Spirit come upon Him.

One pastor found out what it was like to not have that “anointing”, that “unction” –

It was the new pastor’s first sermon at his new church.  Following the service, he was standing by the door shaking hands when a man came up to him and said, “That was a very dull and boring sermon, Pastor.”

Well, he shook it off and didn’t think too about it until a couple of minutes later he noticed the same guy in line again where he said, “I didn’t think you did any preparation for your message, Pastor.”

A bit exasperated, the pastor was determined to not let it bother him when he looked up and saw the same guy approaching him the third time: “You really blew it.  You didn’t have a thing to say, Pastor.”

This time it really bothered him so he spotted a deacon nearby and thought he had better ask him about this strange fellow.  “Oh, don’t worry about him, Pastor. He’s a little off.  All he does is go around repeating everything he hears others say.”

From E.M. Bounds, “Power Through Prayer” in the section titled “14. Unction (Holy Spirit Anointing) a Necessity”.
This unction is the art of preaching. The preacher who never had this unction never had the art of preaching. The preacher who has lost this unction has lost the art of preaching. Whatever other arts he may have and retain—the art of sermon-making, the art of eloquence, the art of great, clear thinking, the art of pleasing an audience—he has lost the divine art of preaching. This unction makes God’s truth powerful and interesting, draws and attracts, edifies, convicts, saves.  This unction vitalizes God’s revealed truth, makes it living and life-giving. Even God’s truth spoken without this unction is light, dead, and deadening. Though abounding in truth, though weighty with thought, though sparkling with rhetoric, though pointed by logic, though powerful by earnestness, without this divine unction it issues in death and not in life. Mr. Spurgeon says: “I wonder how long we might beat our brains before we could plainly put into word what is meant by preaching with unction. Yet he who preaches knows its presence, and he who hears soon detects its absence. Samaria, in famine, typifies a discourse without it. Jerusalem, with her feast of fat things, full of marrow, may represent a sermon enriched with it. Every one knows what the freshness of the morning is when orient pearls abound on every blade of grass, but who can describe it, much less produce it of itself? Such is the mystery of spiritual anointing. We know, but we cannot tell to others what it is. It is as easy as it is foolish, to counterfeit it. Unction is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless. Yet it is, in itself, priceless, and beyond measure needful if you would edify believers and bring sinners to Christ.”
We may have a lot of ideas of what it means to be under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Many of them may be wrong.
Yes, the disciples had “tongues of fire” on their heads, but Jesus had a gentle dove come upon His head.

Be careful not to turn away from anything that the Father wants for you.

(Luke 11:9-13 KJV)  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. {10} For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. {11} If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? {12} Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? {13} If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

God gives GOOD gifts to His children.  The Holy Spirit is a good gift.

:22  and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Note the trinity here.  The Son is being baptized.  The Holy Spirit descends.  The Father speaks.

There is a heresy that says that there is only one God who has changed at various places in history to manifest himself in different ways.  In the Old Testament he is the “Father”.  In the New Testament he becomes “Jesus”, and after the resurrection he becomes the “Holy Spirit”.

NOT SO!!!  What is happening here if that’s the case?  Is Jesus talking to Himself like a ventriloquist?  No.


God loves you.

We can look at Jesus and say, “Sure Jesus is “beloved” by God, after all, He’s Jesus!”  But did you know that God loves you as much as He loves Jesus?
(John 17:23 KJV)  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

:23-38  Genealogy of Jesus

:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age,

(Luke 3:23 NKJV)  Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli,

The phrase “His ministry” isn’t in the original.  He just “began” at age thirty.

This was also the age at which a “Levite”, or a priest, became eligible to perform his ministry in the temple (Num. 4:3).

:23-38  being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

We’re going to find that the genealogy that is given here is very different from the one that Matthew gives us. 

Matthew starts at Abraham and ends up with Jesus.

Luke starts with Jesus and goes back to Adam.

From the time of Abraham to David, they’re in agreement, but between David and Jesus, they’re pretty different.

How can this be?

Matthew gives us the genealogy of Joseph, showing his link to the kings of Judah, giving Jesus the legal right to the throne of David.

Luke instead gives us the genealogy of Mary, giving us the physical link to David.

The phrase “as was supposed” is the tip-off.  Luke has already shown us that Joseph wasn’t the real father of Jesus.  Luke has also had a GREAT deal of emphasis on Mary, giving us stuff that only Mary would have known of.
This genealogy actually fulfills several great purposes.
It was promise David that the Messiah would come from his lineage (2Sam. 7:11).

(2 Sam 7:11-14a KJV)  And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. {12} And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. {13} He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. {14} I will be his father, and he shall be my son.

Yet there will be two problems to overcome.

1.  The Messiah was also prophesied to be born of a virgin (Is. 7:14), and the “seed of the woman” (Gen. 3:15).

How could the Messiah be a descendant of David, but without a father?

It happened two ways.  Mary, the only human, physical parent of Jesus was a descendant of David herself, showing a physical connection with David. Joseph, the “adopted father” of Jesus was also a descendant of David and gives the legal right to the throne.

2.  There was a problem in David’s kingly line.

One of the last kings, Jeconiah, was cursed by God, and was promised not to have any descendants sitting on the throne:

(Jer 22:30 KJV)  Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

Jeconiah was one of those listed in Matthew’s list (Mat. 1:11-12).

How could both be true?  How could Messiah come from David, yet not through Jeconiah?

Because Jesus physically came through Mary’s line, which didn’t include Jeconiah.

:31 which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David

Whereas the lineage of Jesus through Joseph went through the kings back to Solomon and then David, Mary’s lineage also goes back to David, but doesn’t go through Solomon.

(1 Chr 3:1-5 KJV)  Now these were the sons of David, which were born unto him in Hebron; the firstborn Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; the second Daniel, of Abigail the Carmelitess: {2} The third, Absalom the son of Maachah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur: the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith: {3} The fifth, Shephatiah of Abital: the sixth, Ithream by Eglah his wife. {4} These six were born unto him in Hebron; and there he reigned seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years. {5} And these were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shimea, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, four, of Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel:

David had at least seven wives (1Chr. 3:1-5), and at least ten concubines (2Sam. 15:16).

Both Solomon and Nathan were sons of the same mother, Bathsheba.


God’s great grace.

We all know about David’s sin with Bathsheba, committing adultery with this woman who was the wife of one of his own “mighty men”, and then how he went and had this man killed.
We know that even though the child that was born from the adultery died, Bathsheba’s son Solomon would eventually become king in his father’s place, despite having many older, more powerful brothers.  We think of Solomon being in the line of Jesus, and he is through Joseph, but there’s more.  Solomon’s older brother, Nathan, was also a son of David and Bathsheba.  It was through Nathan that Mary traces her lineage.  It’s as if there’s a “double portion” of David and Bathsheba in the lineage of Jesus.
That’s grace.  Getting what you don’t deserve.
You may feel like you’ve totally lost any ability to be used by God because of your great sins.  But God isn’t finished with you yet.  God can make gracious things come out of great wickedness.