The Genealogy of “My Servant the Branch”

TODAY’S READING: ZECHARIAH 1-5

“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.” – Zechariah 3:8

I have often heard it said that three of the four gospels start with a genealogy of Jesus. And, these genealogies reveal the face, the nature, the perspective of Jesus revealed in that gospel.

Two – Matthew and Luke – are obvious. The third – John – is generally recognized. And, the fourth – Mark – is said to not have a genealogy of Jesus at all.

But, is that really the case?

I want to show you that Mark does have a genealogy when we consider the face, nature, or perspective of Jesus that Mark is presenting.

Matthew 1:1 says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” That Matthew starts with a genealogy is obvious since he directly tells us that.

But, why does the genealogy only go back to Abraham? And, why does Matthew say “the son of David” in the simple statement that he is presenting a genealogy?

Because Matthew is presenting Jesus as the king, specifically the king of the Jews. Therefore, the genealogy only goes back to Abraham, the father of the Jews. In fact, Abraham was the first person said to be a Hebrew in Genesis 14:13. And, the genealogy is said to be about “the son of David” because Jesus was the son of David who would be king and sit on the throne of David forever as prophesied in 2 Samuel 7:4-16.

Luke 3:23, 38 says, “Jesus, when he began his ministry was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli…the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”

Luke presents a different genealogy than Matthew because he is presenting a different aspect of Jesus. Luke is presenting Jesus as a man, specifically the son of Man, which was Jesus’ favorite description of himself. (By the way, Jesus was the only one to ever call himself that.) Therefore, Luke’s genealogy doesn’t begin with Abraham but begins with God who created Adam, the first man.

Jesus is a son of that first man. In that sense, Jesus is the second man. And, he’s the last Adam as Luke’s genealogy begins with Adam and ends with Jesus. I believe this is what Paul had in mind when he said, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47)

John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” This doesn’t look like the typical genealogy, but when we consider that John is presenting Jesus as the son of God, then we can understand the verse first two verses of John’s gospel as a genealogy.

It is the “genealogy” of Jesus as the I Am, which Jesus repeatedly says about himself in John’s gospel. As John writes in Revelation 1:8, “‘I am the Alpha and Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'”

But, what about Mark?

There does not appear to be any genealogy of Jesus at all. At least I have never heard anyone claim that there is. In fact, I have only heard teachers claim that Mark’s gospel is different because it is the one that lacks a genealogy.

However, we must remember that Mark presents Jesus as the servant. A servant’s genealogy has nothing to do with his earthly parents or lineage. One is a servant their genealogy, their lineage, is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Isaiah 42:1 says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.”

Knowing that the genealogy of a servant is the Holy Spirit, take a look at the beginning of the gospel of Mark. Mark 1:1 says, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God.” Mark indeed starts with the beginning of the servant. Mark is saying this is the beginning, the origin, of the ministry, the gospel, of the servant, Jesus Christ.

Mark goes on to write about John the baptizer and how all Judea and Jerusalem were going to him to be baptized.

Mark 1:9-11 says, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus, the beginning of his ministry as the servant, was his baptism by the Holy Spirit. It was this “genealogy,” the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that revealed Jesus as the servant spoke of in Zechariah 3:8 and Isaiah 42:1. And, because of the way Mark presents Jesus and the beginning of his servanthood, we understand how critically important the Holy Spirit was for Jesus to be the servant. Indeed, Jesus could not have been the servant of God without the Holy Spirit.

So, when we understand how Mark is presenting Jesus, as a servant, we see that he indeed does have a “genealogy.” It’s just that there is nothing about one’s natural birth or earthly existence that makes one a servant. Servanthood, for Jesus and us, only begins with the Holy Spirit.

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