32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
- 1. Gabriel tells Mary that her Son will be great.
- 2. He will be called "Son of the Highest".
- 3. The Lord God shall give to Him the throne of David.
- 4. David is His father.
- 5. He shall reign upon the house of Jacob forever.
- 6. There shall be no end of His kingdom.
- 1. The phrase "he shall be great" has been covered in the study listed just prior to this one.
- 2. The issue before us now is the duality of the "sonship" of Mary's Offspring.
- a. He shall be called "Son of the Most High".
- b. He shall be given the throne of "his father" David.
- 3. There are two issues here.
- a. That He is to be born of a virgin by the action of the "Most High" is clearly declared in 1:35.
- 1) This text establishes how it was to be that He would be called "Son of God".
- 2) The "Most High" terminology is retained from 1:32.
- b. That He is to be given the throne of "his father" David is the problem...
- 1) In the text, Mary is espoused to a man of the "house of David".
- 2) But the text is adamant that this man is not to be the genetic father of Jesus.
- 3) Therefore, either the terminology "his father David" is being used loosely in that He is to be raised in the house of Joseph as the "father" of the house (much as an adopted child), or the "fatherhood" of David is to come through Mary as a genuine daughter of David.
- a) In 3:23, Luke begins to give us a genealogy of Jesus.
- i. The first issue this genealogy raises is the issue of its "reason for being". Why did Luke give us a genealogy of Jesus if it, in fact, is not His genealogy? [This same question can be raised for Matthew's genealogy, but there it is very clear that the genealogy is of Joseph and that text pointedly tells us that Jesus was not "of Joseph" in terms of genetics. This means that Matthew deliberately undercuts the notion of physical connection for his genealogy. So, why his genealogy? He begins it by saying that Jesus is the "son" of David, the "son" of Abraham. Is it to show the linkage of the Davidic "King" according to the regnal lineage through Solomon (which has already received a divine curse upon it in the days of Jeconiah) so that Jesus, as the adoptive son of Joseph, the regnal heir, can be legitimately included in the regnal line without breaking the curse that is upon that line? If so, "son" certainly does not lend itself to "normal, physical" interpretation because it is being used in a figure. Paul argued in Romans that the "son of promise" was a phrase that meant that God would produce the "son" according to His promise and that His promise meant that human ability to produce was being rejected. Thus, "son" does not have to include genetics. However, when the 'son of promise' (Isaac) was born, he was a genetic son.]
- (a) It is His genealogy. In contrast to Matthew, who wanted to establish that Jesus was the promised son of David and Abraham, Luke has no obvious, text-linked, desire to show that Jesus was the son of the covenants God made with Abraham and David.
- (b) Luke clearly wishes us to view Jesus as the descendent of humanity as it is traced in terms of genetic procreation from its original Creation.
- b) In that text, Luke says that Jesus was about thirty "being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph", who, in turn, is identified as "Of Heli".
- i. The problem is the meaning of the "of Heli" phrase. [If Jesus can be assumed to be "of Joseph" and Joseph is declared to be "of Heli", it is clearly possible that the "of" connection does not require genetic linkage].
- ii. The problem is raised because of the fact that Matthew's genealogy of Joseph tells us pointedly that "Jacob begat Joseph" (Matthew 1:16) and the genealogy of Matthew has multiple differences from the one Luke embarks upon in Luke 3, the most notable of which is that Matthew traces Joseph through Solomon and Luke traces Heli through Nathan (both of whom are among the four sons of Bathsheba: I Chronicles 3:5). [There are those who are delighted with this "contradiction" in the Bible, but the likelihood of either Matthew or Luke being in such blatant error is very small. The genealogical records were pretty much open to public scrutiny and neither man was very likely to simply create an obvious fabrication. Why is it "more truthful" to assume a contradiction than to assume harmony?]
- iii. The issue is the flexibility of language -- can Jesus be a "son" of David while not having any genetic links to him?
- (a) The language of the Bible uses "son" with no genetic linkage of any kind in phrases that relate men as "sons" to personages who have the historic precedence in a given type of behavior/attitude. (You are "sons" of Abraham by "faith" as Abraham is the "father" of all who believe...you are "of" your father, the devil...as many as are led by the Spirit are sons of God...etc.)
- (b) Abraham, when he attempted to produce the promised 'son' through Hagar, was brought up very short by God's absolute refusal to allow His words to be taken in that manner -- Abraham's son was going to be a result of both Abraham's and Sarah's genetic material, and Abraham was supposed to know that on the basis of the words of God. Paul, as a contributor to our understanding, said that Jesus "came into existence by the sperm of David, according to the flesh" -- Romans 1:3 -- this pretty much has to mean that Mary was a daughter of David.]
- (c) It seems that, from the beginning, God has attempted to get man to think in terms of the reliability of His word(s) as being backed by His omnipotence and integrity. This "effort" had this obstacle: whenever man sees himself as the 'producer' of the fulfillment of God's words, he goes off into the foolishness of believing that God's words do not require God's omnipotence to bring them to fulfillment--that they can be legitimately fulfilled by man's volition and power. However, there is another faulty idea that men can get from the idea that only God can fulfill His word(s): the idea that God's fulfillment means that He will not use human instrumentality. When men think this foolishness, they sit back, withholding their own instrumentality, and wait for a "miracle" that does not include instrumentality. It has never been God's intent to do either of these two things: He does not intend that men think they can fulfill His word(s); but neither does He intend that men think that He is not interested in including them in His works (i.e. sharing His life with them). Thus, the "words of promise" are to be seen as absolutely inevitable as underwritten by divine integrity and omnipotence, and also as God's offer to include men in the life that comes from being a partner (servant) of God. [Behind even this divine intention, though, is an even more crucial issue: the meaning of God's omnipotence-and-integrity-backed words. The question here is whether God can utter words that have no connection to the meaning that men will assign to them because of their understanding of language. When God promised Abraham a "son", could He have meant something other than a baby-born-of-Sarah-by-Abraham's-sperm? From the very beginning of trouble (Genesis 3), the issue has been the meaning of the divine words. Satan said "ye shall not die" and, in connection with the "in the day ye eat thereof" and a merely physical meaning of "die", he spoke truth. But his "truth" was a deception and "faith" in his "truth" brought fulfillment to the warning found in the divine meaning. This reality makes understanding God's meaning crucial, but puts it beyond man's intellectual capacities. This effectively accomplishes God's objective: He wants man to refrain from depending upon his own capacities (intellectual, or otherwise), but He also wants man to participate in His life as He brings man to understanding.]
- iv. When Luke identified Zacharias and Elizabeth, he deliberately identified them in their genetic flow: Zacharias was of the "course of Abijah" and Elizabeth was a "daughter of Aaron". When he came to Mary and Joseph, he also deliberately did not tell us anything of Mary's family background. Why was this? With just a few more strokes of his pen, he could have laid much later debate to rest! God's resistance to the proud is probably behind this. He has always allowed the wicked enough rope to hang themselves if He had no intention of pulling their feet from the miry clay.]
- v. If, in fact, Luke was recording the genealogy of Mary in Luke 3, this question arises: why does he deliberately stick "Joseph" into the picture? The most likely answer is in 3:38 where two issues are clear: the "of God" phrase makes Adam "of" God, but not the genetic offspring of God (so Joseph can be "of Heli" and not be genetically linked); and, the "of Adam" phrase makes it clear that Luke was running the roots of Jesus back to Adam so that we understand clearly that He was a genetic part of the human race, i.e. truly human. Luke's picture of Jesus is that He is Man, the Servant (in contrast to: Mark's "God, the Servant"; Matthew's "Man, the King"; and John's "God, the King").