Luke 3:21–38 . . . Bible Study Summary with Videos and Questions

The Baptism and Genealogy of Jesus

In this week's lesson, we'll try to learn the importance of our Lord's baptism, as well as the significance of his genealogy. We'll also look for the meaning of our Lord's baptism and genealogy in our lives today. Perhaps surprisingly, the best resources we have today for both elements are found in the Old Testament.

The Meaning of “My Son" in the Old Testament

Starting with vv. 21–22 of today's passage (shown below), we'll first look closely at the phrase "my Son," as found in 1 and 2 Samuel. The key to understanding our Lord's baptism lies in the meaning of that expression. It's directly related to God's designation and appointment of Israel's king. Let's see how this concept of "sonship" is developed in the Old Testament.

Israel's first king  In spite of being forewarned by God of the high price of wanting a king, the Israelites demanded one, like all the other nations had (1 Samuel 8). God granted Israel's request. It was the task of Samuel, the priest, to designate who'd become king. In 1 Samuel 9 and 10, the entire process is described in detail. In short, Saul and his servant were looking for his father's lost donkeys. Eventually they came upon Samuel, who anointed Saul with oil, designating him as Israel's ruler (1 Samuel 10:1). Shortly thereafter, the Holy Spirit came upon Saul (10:6–13), empowering him for this task.

King Saul rejected by God  Due to his disobedience, Saul was rejected as God's king; another was destined to become his replacement. Because it wasn't only Saul but his dynasty that was rejected, it was necessary for God to designate, again through Samuel, Israel's new king (1 Samuel 16). After viewing all of David's older brothers, and learning that none of them was to become king, David was sent for, then anointed in the presence of his brothers, as Israel's new king, at which time the Holy Spirit also came upon him (16:13).

God's covenant with David  Later, God would make a covenant with the house (dynasty) of David, known as the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7). Note that the relationship between Israel's king and God is described as a relationship between a son and a father: " I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men . . ." (v. 14). Luke's use of "You are my Son" becomes an expression that designates Israel's king. You can see it also in Psalm 2:6–9.

“With You I Am Well Pleased"

The expression "You are my son" in Psalm 2:7 designates Jesus as the king of Israel, Israel's Messiah. At the announcement of his birth, this was promised (Luke 1:32), and now God has declared it so. In addition, the expression "with you I am well pleased" is also significant, underscoring the same truth. The words are intended to recall this passage in the prophecy of Isaiah 42:1–4. In that prophecy, Israel's Messiah, God's Servant, is the One in whom God delights; he's also the One on whom the Spirit will come (v. 1).

The evidence is more than sufficient to indicate that the Father's declaration, along with the Holy Spirit's descent, designated Jesus as the King of Israel, empowering him for the task set before Him. Like Samuel, John the Baptist was privileged to play a part in identifying the Lord Jesus as God's King. As our Lord Jesus commenced his public ministry, he revealed that he was, in fact, the King of Israel.

The Genealogy of Jesus (vv. 23–38)

The genealogy of our Lord immediately follows Luke's brief account of our Lord's baptism. When we compare Luke's report of Jesus' genealogy with Matthew's, we find considerable differences. Not only placed in different locations in their gospels, Luke's genealogy index runs from Christ back to Adam, while Matthew's runs from Abraham to Christ. The biggest difference is that after David, many of the names differ when viewing Luke's genealogy as tracing the physical ancestors of Christ through Mary, while Matthew's genealogy traces the kingly line of Christ through Joseph.

Luke's genealogy of Jesus ends with Adam, the "son of God," as the first ancestor. In one sense, Adam and Eve were to serve as "kings" over the creation, for they were created to "rule" over God's creation (Genesis 1:26). The two sinned; their "rule," similar to Saul's, was greatly diminished. As the "second Adam," Christ would come to reign over God's creation as Israel's king.

Luke will soon tell us of Christ's being tempted by Satan, for it's after our Lord's victory over his temptations that he's shown to have the "right to reign." Christ's baptism identifies him as Israel's king, demonstrating that he has the Father's appointment and the Spirit's anointing. The genealogy shows that our Lord has the correct, rightful lineage; he's indeed of the "throne of David" with the godly character to reign. In every way, Luke documents our Lord as being qualified for the task he's been given.

The Roles of the Baptism and Genealogy in Luke's Gospel

In the earlier chapters of his gospel, with detailed accounts of the events surrounding the births of Jesus and John the Baptist, Luke has already indicated that Jesus Christ was the "King of Israel." In Jesus' baptism, both the Father and the Spirit bear testimony to this. The genealogy shows that Jesus Christ is one with man and that he's also of the lineage of David. The remainder of the gospel will play out Israel's response to Christ's claim to be their King.

King Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father. He'll eventually return, subdue his enemies, and establish his kingdom. It's no wonder that fear came upon the crowds as many professed Christ as their Savior and King.

Today's Meaning

Jesus' declaration as Israel's king has many implications for us, as well as for those who had to respond to the claims and personal appearance of our Lord during New Testament days. Let's consider a few areas of application as we conclude our lesson.

If we say that Jesus Christ is God's King, we had better listen to him carefully and follow his commands. It's unlikely that disciples had heard the words that the Father spoke at Jesus' baptism; probably only John and Jesus heard them. Virtually the same words were spoken in the hearing of three of his disciples while on the mount of transfiguration; it's clear that those words were intended to encourage Jesus' disciples to "listen to him" very carefully (Matthew 17:5). The meaning for us today is this: If Jesus is the Son of God, we had better "listen up" and "obey him"!

Apostle Peter says the same thing to his readers (2 Peter 1:16–19). With this, the writer to the Hebrews is in agreement when he writes, "For to which of the angels did God ever say, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father?' Or again, 'I will be his Father, and he will be my Son'?" (Hebrews 1:5) And again, in Hebrews 2:1–3a, we're warned to not drift away from God and his Word.

Just as our Lord was baptized by the Spirit, designating him as the Son of God while empowering him for his mission, so every true saint is also baptized by his Spirit and empowered to serve him. Remember to keep God's commandments, without stain or reproach, until our Lord Jesus Christ appears to us.

It Makes You Wonder . . .
  • Q. 1  What three things happen at Jesus' baptism that make it unlike the others (vv. 21–22)?
  • Q. 2  What's Luke's point in going all the way back to Adam? What do Adam and Jesus have in common?
  • Q. 3  When in your life have you felt God's special touch, as if something new was beginning for you? What happened next?

This Week's Passage
Luke 3:21–38 (Lukas)

New International Version (NIV)
[View it in a different version by clicking here; also listen to chapter 3.]

 Watch this passage-specific video clip from Jesus Film Project titled "The Baptism of Jesus by John."

The Baptism and Genealogy of Jesus

21When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

23Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josek, the son of Joda, 27the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, 38the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.