Luke's insertion of this genealogy after Jesus' baptism and prior to His temptation is designed to help us understand the right answer to the question: "What do you need to know about Jesus in order to fully appreciate the gospel?" You see, in this genealogy Luke manages to do five things all at once.

First, He marks Jesus out clearly as the Son of God. Secondly, he is showing you that Jesus is the second Adam. Third, this genealogy will show you that Jesus is the seed of Abraham, in whom all of the Abrahamic promises are fulfilled. Fourth, this genealogy will show you that Jesus is the Messiah: He is the heir of the Davidic throne.

Finally, this genealogy also marks out Jesus as a real man - flesh and blood. He is no Greek demigod ascending in some sort of spiritual form and only appearing to be fleshly and coming into this world. He's flesh and blood, just like us; and, therefore, there's a whole string of "son of... son of... son of... son of..." stretching back 75 generations.

About nine years ago, a Wycliffe Bible translator was in New Guinea translating the New Testament into a new tribal language, and he experienced in that work the power of a genealogy. The way Wycliffe works is that they train a person for a couple of years in a new language, and then they send that person into the culture to learn even more about that language in the culture and to start immediately translating the Bible into the language of that particular tribe or culture.

Well, this translator had just moved into this tribal setting in New Guinea, and he thought, "Well, I'll just start with the Gospel of Matthew." And he opened up Matthew and what did he see in the very first chapter? A genealogy. And he said, "I just can't do this to these people. I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to start translating with chapter two, and we're going to skip chapter one." And he started translating and he worked with the men in the village, and they translated all the way from Matthew 2 to Matthew 28. And at the end of all that translation time, they were still not believing the gospel that he kept explaining to them as they translated chapter after chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. And finally he said, "Well, we've translated all of Matthew. I guess I'm going to have to do back and translate chapter one now." And so they started in chapter one, and by the time they got to the fourth, the fifth, the sixth begat - "So-and-so begat So-and so; So-and-so begat So-and-so..." - he saw the men around him getting excited. Their faces lit up! Their eyes were wide; their voices were beginning to show agitation, and they began interrupting him as they were translating this genealogy in Matthew 1. They stopped him and they said, "You mean to tell me that this Adam was a real person? And that this Abraham was a real person? And this David was a real person? You mean that these people are not just stories that you white men made up, that these are real people?" And he said, "Yes! I've been telling you that all along as I've translated the rest of the Gospel of Matthew." And they said, "We believe you now! We understand this! We can tell you our ancestors fifty generations back, by name. We can tell you about them! We learn these things. We now know that everything that you have been telling us is true about this man Jesus, and that He had real ancestors and that they were real people, and that God had really done these things - these are not just stories."

The genealogy had confirmed to them the truthfulness of the historical account of the Gospel of Matthew. We perhaps cannot understand that in modern cultures, but in most cultures, the power of genealogy is palpable. Those tribal folk in New Guinea said, "We didn't know that Abraham was real and that David was real, but now we believe."

Now I want to draw your attention just to two things.

1. What Does Jesus' Genealogy Say About Us?

What does Luke show us in Jesus' genealogy that we need to learn about ourselves? He shows us Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, and some of the great heroic figures of the Old Testament. These people did amazing things, heroic things, and many of them believed against all hope in the promises of God. But you also learn that they are sinners. Adam plunged us all into sin with his rebellion. Noah was a drunkard. Abraham was a liar and a coward. David was an adulterer and a murderer. And when you study this genealogical tree - yes, you find heroes, but you especially find sinners. This family tree teaches us our sin and our need for grace.

And the Apostle Paul says the wages of sin is death, and so we die.

2. What Jesus' Genealogy Says About Him

And here's our only hope, my friends, Luke is reminding us even as he shows us this family tree that we are sinners, and we're not the answer. We are not the ones we have been waiting for. We cannot look to ourselves. We ourselves are sinners. We need to look away from ourselves and we need to look to God for grace. And that is the second thing that this genealogy so beautifully displays in Jesus.

This genealogy tells us at least six things about Jesus.

First of all, it identifies us with Him. Luke is telling you that Jesus - though He was perfect, though He was sinless - came from a long line of sinners. He was connected and identified with sinners.

Second, this genealogy makes it clear that Jesus is a real person. His humanity is emphasized in the very record of the genealogy. He's not a story. He's flesh and blood and human. He had a father and a grandfather and a great-grandfather. And you can go on back for 75 generations.

Third, this passage teaches us that Jesus is the Messiah, and David's heir. In verse 31, He's called the son of David. He's the one that we're looking for! He's the one who's going to reign on His father David's throne. And in verse 34, He's called a son of Abraham. He is the heir of Abraham. All of the promises of God to Abraham are yea and amen in Christ.

Fourth, in verse 38, He's called the son of Adam. He's the second Adam. Whereas the first Adam failed, and sinned and fell and plunged us into sin and misery, He did not fail.

Fifth, He is the Son of God. Verse 38 ends the genealogy with the assertion that Jesus is the very Son of God. He's not just a great moral prophet. He's not just a great philosopher. He's not just a great leader of men. He is the very Son of God.

In other words, Luke is saying the sum total of everything that you need is concentrated in Jesus, and it's not found anywhere outside of Him. You can find all your hope in Him alone, and live. That's what this great genealogy teaches us about ourselves and about our Savior.