The following is a reflection on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, the Gospel lesson for the first Sunday after the Epiphany Year C, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
Of course this incredible Divine statement is made in the context of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. But, it’s also important to keep reading on for a verse or two.
For no sooner is Jesus proclaimed to be God’s Son, than Luke launches into his genealogy of Jesus. Unlike Matthew’s genealogy, which is a list of “begats,” Luke’s is a telling of who is who’s “son.” And, while Matthew’s genealogy runs from oldest ancestor (Abraham) to the Holy Family, Luke does the exact opposite. He starts with Jesus and Joseph and moves back from there.
Doing the genealogy in this direction is startling I think especially because of where Luke ends Jesus’ family tree, not at Abraham, but with: Adam, son of God.
This whole Lukan genealogy is brimming with “sons” and is dramatically bookended by two of God’s sons—Jesus and Adam.
Both genealogies serve to ground the story of Jesus into the ancient story of God’s people—the saints and the sinners of Israel. But, Luke’s version also serves to ground the story of Jesus into the story of creation and the fall.
Jesus and Adam are the sons of God. Jesus is the new Adam.
Of course, Luke isn’t the only one to make this connection. John the Evangelist does it in his prologue. John the Divine does it throughout the Book of Revelation, but especially in the final chapters. Paul does it in Romans 5 and First Corinthians 15.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 1st Corinthians 15:22
We could go deep into the rabbit-hole, looking at the mirror-image counterpunches of Adam and Jesus.
But, I think, especially in this season of Epiphany, it’s important to just remember that the story of God’s love for us—the story of God’s intimate involvement with His Children—goes back deep, so deep, into the molten center of cosmic history. From that moment God spoke “light” and it was so. From that moment when we were drawn out of the primordial mud and formed into the Divine Image. From the moment when we were cast out of the Garden, brining the Tree of Life so far out of our reach. From the many moments when patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets were called forth to do God’s work.
To the moment when God became flesh, and dwelt among us, living as one of us, living for us. And dying for us.
And right up to this moment. Now.
For in Baptism we are counted as God’s Sons and Daughters too, through adoption. That long list of fathers and children in Luke’s Gospel is not just a dead family tree, but a living one, that stretches not only backward but forward. To us.
We are part of the story of Redemption, and we are recipients of it.
Beloved of God.