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Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,…the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. – Luke 3:23-38 [ESV]
I recently experienced a Crucible weekend men’s retreat. It was nothing like any other retreat I had ever experienced. Filled with physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges, and shrouded in mystery beforehand, it was a profound experience, including an opportunity to deal with some things in my younger years that I had not previously revealed. Part of the idea behind the Crucible experience is to allow men (and women) to embrace their God-given masculinity or femininity.
For us it was an opportunity to be real men. Not so much eating with our hands, or making grunting (or other) sounds; but recognizing that as men we have certain characteristics that make us real men. Several of the men confessed to struggling with that very issue. It is, after all, a hot-button topic in today’s culture.
When it comes to Jesus and his identity as a real man, the issue has to do with more than whether or not he is a real man in the sense of having sufficient machismo, testosterone, or beard-growing ability. And that gets us to the genealogy that Luke (and Matthew) offers here. Best conveyed by this story, we learn another facet of the significance of Jesus’ identity as true God and true man. David Guzik writes:
A genealogy may not seem like much, but it exactly established Jesus’ credentials as a member of the human race. A Bible translator to a distant tribe saved the genealogies for last because he thought them the least important part of the gospels. But when he finally finished them last of all, the tribesmen were astounded – they told the translator, “You mean to tell us that this Jesus was a real person, with real ancestors? We had no idea!” –Enduring Word Commentary
Jesus has a lineage. Jesus had a mother. But not an earthly father. But he was a real man in the sense that he had human flesh and blood. He had physical limits. He got tired, hungry, thirsty, and even succumbed to death. Somehow we may relegate Jesus’ human nature to those things alone and fail to realize just how important it is that Jesus was a real/true man.
Jesus was real. No fake. No illusion. No cardboard cut-out. A real air-breathing, heart-beating, flesh-laden, living being. This guy really happened. He really lived. He really taught. He really suffered and died. He also really rose from the dead!
Jesus was also true. True to God his Father in heaven. True to the Law of God. True to all God intended man to be. True to his friends. True to his enemies. True to all with whom he came into contact. Nothing false about him. No sham. No deceit. The truth, the whole truth, but truth coupled inexorably to grace and love.
No one else can claim that. Not to mention that he was also true God. And we’ll look at that tomorrow. For how let the humanity of Jesus, his true/real manhood bolster your faith. Learn from him what it means to be a true man or woman.