Like Father, Like Son
March 04, 2018 | Randy Smith
Like Father, Like SonLuke 3:21-38
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Pastor Randy Smith
Today's chosen passage from Luke 3 is verses 21-38. If you take a quick look at these verses, the first thing you will see is the listing of a massive genealogy in 16 of these 18 verses. Then if you consider the remaining verses, verses 21 and 22, you will see the baptism of Jesus. Most likely you are thinking, what is Pastor Randy going to say about these verses for the next 35 minutes?
Yet after a closer examination, missed by many, is an incredible picture into the heart of God. Specifically, we see what brings Him pleasure. As I have been reading through Exodus, I can't miss the repeated theme of God's pleasure when His people obey Him. Here in verse 22 we see that the Father is not simply pleased, but "well-pleased" with the Son. Why is that? It's because the Son always obeyed Him by always living perfectly according to the Father's will.
The point I would like to make today before we break for the Lord's Table is that the Father's pleasure for the Son is the exact same attitude that He has toward His sons and daughters as well. I'll come around to that, but for now let me first set the stage by explaining this passage.
Luke has been using a clear organized structure to present his opening chapters. He's been alternating between John the Baptist and Jesus - their parents, birth, childhood and now the beginning of their respective ministries. In our last two sermons, we looked at the ministry of John the Baptist. Luke's final comments about the man have John explaining the greatness of Jesus. John is then taken off the scene when Luke informs us that he was put in prison (3:20).
By the way, that explains how Luke can say John is in prison, but then a few verses later we find him baptizing Jesus. Luke is not seeking to be chronological. He's seeking to show the superiority of Christ by now removing John from the discussion. Get John offstage so the spotlight can fall on Jesus. As a matter of fact, we need to go to the other Gospels to see that Jesus was baptized specifically by John because Luke does not even mention his name! Luke's goal in writing is not to show the greatness of John, but rather the greatness of Jesus.
So in verse 21 we see the masses receiving baptism. And then who arrives? It's Jesus! He looked no different than the others. Typical Jewish features. Typical Jewish clothes. No halo over His head. No glowing appearance.
From the other Gospels we also learn that John had a problem baptizing Jesus. In Matthew we read John saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" In other words, "We've got this thing reversed." The text continues, "But Jesus answering said to him, 'Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness'" (Matt. 3:14-15).
Now what does that mean? What is our point? The Father has great love for the Son because the Son is always obedient. Jesus had no need for a baptism of repentance. He never sinned. He's always been "saved" so to speak. Yet God has commanded that all His children be baptized. So in order for Jesus to be our sinless substitute, He needed to not only avoid doing the bad, but also perfectly do what was right. That's why Jesus permitted John in order that "righteousness" might be fulfilled.
We also see Jesus with another righteous action in verse 21. Immediately after His baptism, He was praying. How did the Father respond to His obedience? The emphasis here is what the Father did in response to our Lord's desire to speak with Him. The end of verse 21 says, "Heaven was opened." It was a dramatic revelation of God Himself.
What else happened? Verse 22, "The Holy Spirit descended upon [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove."
So if Jesus is God, why would the third Person of the Trinity need to come upon Him? One reason was to show the cooperation of the entire Trinity within the saving purposes of God. In this verse we see all three Person represented and all three Persons rejoicing - the Son, the Holy Spirit and soon the voice of the Father. The full force, unity and cooperation of our Triune God was involved to achieve our salvation.
Another reason was to empower Jesus for ministry. This event was the inauguration of our Lord's earthy ministry. According to verse 23, He was thirty years old. He was fully God, but let's not forget that He was also fully man. What we see here is the power of God being unleashed in the life of Jesus Christ, the same way God's power is unleashed in us through prayer and the giving of the Holy Spirit.
And what was the first divine assignment for our Lord? According to chapter 4, verse 1, He was "full of the Holy Spirit" and "led…by the Holy Spirit" to be tempted for 40 days by the devil in the wilderness. If Jesus needed prayer and the Holy Spirit to empower Him during temptation, what does it say about our abilities to be successful in the spiritual fight if we fail to have either?
Jesus would serve as a model of what all His followers would soon experience, something the early church would undergo at Pentecost. Jesus prayed and then came the Spirit. The disciple prayed in Acts 1 and then in Acts 2 comes the Holy Spirit.
The heavens are opened. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove. What else happened? After we see these two visuals we hear a verbal. We hear the Father speak to the Son. This definite pronouncement, these profound words are recorded in verse 22. "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."
Jesus is God's son. It's not that the Father created Jesus. The Son, like the Father is eternally God. Rather it is just the relationship, the roles that they have accepted within the Trinity.
And the fact that the Father chose to call Jesus His Son is not surprising. We see it all over the Bible. In chapter 1, verses 32 and 35, the angels called Jesus, "The Son of the Most High" and "The Son of God." In chapter 4, verses 3 and 9, Satan will call Jesus, "The Son of God." Also in chapter 4, the demons, as they often do will refer to Jesus as, "The Son of God." Those who knew the Lord the best commonly used this designation when referring to Christ. Yet here the Father called Jesus His "beloved Son."
So in this verse we see two Old Testament passages joined together. In Psalm 2:7 we read, "He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'" And in Isaiah 42:1-2 we read, "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street." According to these verses, Jesus is the prophetic king in the line of David, but also the suffering servant.
Yet what really catches our attention is what the Father says to the Son. He says that in Jesus He is "well-pleased." Why? Because as I said earlier, the Father delights in obedience and the Son always did the will of the Father. The Father is always pleased with the Son, but this in particular was a momentous occasion when the Son was in submission to the Father beginning to set out on His redemptive work which would culminate at the cross. This work, more than any other, was well-pleasing to the Father.
Don't lose that thought!
Now in verses 23-38 we have a massive genealogy. It begins with Jesus in verse 23 and works back and ends with Adam in verse 38. Luke was writing to Gentiles. Matthew's genealogy (chapter 1 of his Gospel) begins with Abraham and works up to Jesus. Matthew was writing to Jews. Matthew is tracing Jesus' lineage through Joseph. It is believed that Luke is tracing Jesus' lineage through Mary. Matthew wants to connect Jesus to the David kingship. Luke wants to connect Jesus, by mentioning Adam, to the human race.
There are many similarities between the two, but some interesting differences. Luke takes us through David's line, but unlike Matthew does not mention the Davidic Kings, but choses some of his lesser known sons. Also interesting is the little phrase in verse 23 that says Jesus "was supposed the son of Joseph." In other words, Joseph was not really His father. Remember, Jesus had no biological father as He was conceived by the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Birth> (1:35). Furthermore this alludes to the sonship we just spoke about. The ultimate Father of Jesus, was not Joseph, but God the Father. He affirmed it in verse 22. "You are My beloved Son."
But the thing that jumps out at me is the final words of verse 38. In reference to Adam, and only in reference to Adam, it says that he is "the son of God." I believe there is an interesting parallel here that is intended by Luke and it focuses in this section on both Jesus (at the beginning) and Adam (at the end) being declared the son of God. I do not think it is a comparison, but rather a contrast.
So, Adam without human father is created by God. He is created innocent for the purpose of finding His joy in fellowship with the Father. In nearly no time, Adam falls into sin. He falls into temptation from Satan. He wants to live outside of God's will. He is banished from God's presence. The curse is introduced. All that are born in Adam will not only die physically, but are born spiritual dead. This son of God led the world into sin.
Yet God made a promise to Adam that the day would come when Satan would bruise God's heel, but God would crush Satan's head (Gen. 3:15). God would send a Messiah. And the world waited as they watched the time drawing near. The foreshadowing through the kings and prophets and temple sacrifices led the world to wait for this divine-man to arrive. And as we see here in Luke 3, there was a family tree. Many of these people were nobodies (note Luke's choice of people), but it testifies of God's faithfulness. Through these people, God would eventually bring forth the Messiah.
And what would that Messiah do? He would reverse the curse brought about by Adam. He would be the second Adam. The first son of God failed. God was not pleased with Him. The second Son of God succeeded. God is well-pleased with Him. It was easy for Adam to lead us into sin. But how challenging and mysterious will it be for the second Adam to lead us out of sin.
Adam falls into sin by temptation from the devil to live outside God's will. Next week we will see Jesus immediately led by the Spirit directly into temptation to live outside God's will and we will see Him emerge victorious. Adam wanted His will. Jesus said, "Not My will, but Yours be done" (Lk. 22:42). This second Adam in Jesus is connected to the human race in Luke 3 because He will be the human representative to lead the human race back to God and reopen the gates to Paradise.
The true Son of God will obey the Father to the point of enduring extreme physical agony on the cross, even to the point of experiencing the Father's wrath and spiritual separation as He would bear our sins as our substitute. Yes, there was a small window of eternity where the Father's wrath was poured out on the Son, but even then the Father was still well-pleased with the Son. Isaiah 53:10, "But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering." Through it all, the Father was delighted in the Son's obedient sacrifice.
So the earthly ministry of Jesus begins with Him praying, the heavens opening, the Spirit descending and God's favorable declaration that this is His beloved Son. And the earthly ministry of Jesus closes with Him praying in the Garden, the veil of the Temple ripped so that heaven can be opened, the Son committing His spirit back to the Father and now people, like the Centurion, exclaiming, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (Mt. 27:54).
One last point before we go to the Lord's Table. When we come to Christ to receive His forgiveness simply on the basis of faith, do you realize that all your sins are have been removed and all of Christ's righteousness has been given to you? What I am saying is that because of our union with Christ, the Father sees us exactly as He sees the Son. Sure we are all growing progressively in our spiritual walk, but as far as our standing with God goes, we are counted as righteous as the Son and thus deeply beloved and well-pleasing to Him as well.