“And there shall come forth a Shoot out of the stock of Jesse [David’s father], and a Branch out of his roots shall grow and bear fruit.”
Did you know there are two listings for the genealogy of Jesus? The listing in Matthew is widely believed to be for Joseph, Jesus’ legal father, while the listing in Luke is for Mary, Jesus’ natural mother. From Abraham to David, the genealogies line up completely, then the genealogy splits between two sons of David and Bathsheba, with Joseph’s ancestor being Solomon and Mary’s ancestor being Nathan. By law and by birth, Jesus was a direct descendant of David, son of Jesse. It is why God was able to promise David that his descendant would reign eternal.(2 Sam. 7:16)
“…Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth…King David the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.“… “Nathan the son of David”
Jesus’ lineage is famous for having people who were frowned upon because they were not born among God’s chosen people of Israel, but they still had a heart that sought after God. Jesus’ family was made up of harlots, adulterers, and foreigners long before He died on the cross and welcomed all who call on Him.
The men in Jesus’ lineage were also leaders in Israel. From Adam to Noah; Noah to Abraham; Abraham to Boaz; Boaz to David–they watched over and helped lead the people of Israel. While most lists won’t name the women in His lineage, we know that there were some difference making women in His ancestry, too. Eve, Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba were some of the most famous biblical women and they were all ancestors of Jesus.
His lineage is full of people who went through trials and came out with a stronger faith in God. Is it any wonder that Mary would come from this line of virtuous God-seekers? Out of all of Israel, this line was made up of movers and shakers, people who sought out His heart and were devoted to Him.
Among Jesus’ family was his mother’s cousins, Zachariah and Elizabeth.
“…there was a certain priest whose name was Zachariah, of the daily service (the division) of Abia; and his wife was also a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth…but they had no child for Elizabeth was barren; and both were far advanced in years.”
The thing that caught my attention was how similar Zachariah and Elizabeth are to Abraham and Sarah. Both couples were devoted to God but had no children and were considered too old to bear them. God could have chosen someone else to help prepare the way, a couple who was younger but the miracle would not be the same. God chose them to do a miraculous work. When Zachariah was told he would have a son, he reacted as Sarah did–with disbelief. At some point, though, he had to decide to act on faith.
“And he must drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit even in and from his mother’s womb…And he will [himself] go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn back the hearts of the fathers to the children…”
Why was it so important for John to not drink? Because otherwise the things he declared in preparing the way would be dismissed as that of a drunk person. Elijah was a great man of God–a prophet who walked in close proximity with God. John would also have to walk closely to God to speak with clarity and authority.
“And it occurred that on the eighth day…they were intending to call him Zachariah after his father, But his mother answered, Not so! But he shall be called John…Then Zachariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, His name is John. And they were all astonished.”
Names are important and the people of Elizabeth’s family thought her son should be named for his earthly father as a way to honor him, but God had called John to something more than the people could perceive. God didn’t just remember (Zachariah is God Remembered), God had placed favor upon the boy (John is God is Favorable).
“And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak, blessing and praising and thanking God. And awe and reverential fear came on all their neighbors; and all these things were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. And all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, Whatever will this little boy be then? For the hand of the Lord was [so evidently] with him [protecting and aiding him].”
It was Zachariah’s faith and obedience that loosed him from the chains of silence. John’s birth was so full of God’s presence, it was a testimony in itself. Later on, John would speak of the hand that God had placed on his life, His presence so apparent as John prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry and work of salvation.
“And you, little one, shall be called a prophet of the Most High; for you shall go on before the face of the Lord to make ready His ways, to bring and give the knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness and remission of their sins.”
As a priest, Zachariah was a mediator between Israel and God. His son, John, would help prepare the way for the ultimate mediator, Jesus. Some might wonder why John was necessary, why he would need to be a herald for Jesus. Trumpeters go before Kings to announce the King’s presence. When people heard the herald they knew the King was not far behind. John was the herald, he let the people know that their King–the Messiah–was coming. John couldn’t give the people salvation, but he could remind them God’s promises and lead them to turn their hearts back to God so that they would be open to His Son when they encountered Him. John always pointed the people to God’s redeeming love.
Want to read these scriptures for yourself?
Jesus’ Genealogy can be found in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38
The story of John’s birth can be found in Luke 1:2-25;57-80