TODAY’S READING: LUKE 3-4
“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 3:23, 38
Luke 3:23-38 gives the genealogy of Jesus in Luke’s gospel. According to this genealogy, Jesus is the 77th of God.
Why is Jesus the 77th of God? What is the significance of this?
Adam was made in the image of God. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, Adam was the first man, a living being, the natural man, from the earth, of the dust. As Adam was, so are we. We have borne the image of Adam.
But, Jesus was the last Adam, became a life-giving spirit, the spiritual man, the second man, from heaven. We will also bear the image of the man of heaven. Jesus is the image of God.
In essence, Paul is saying that Jesus is the revelation of the spiritually perfect man. Jesus is man as God had always intended him to be.
Virtually everyone that studies numbers in the Bible concludes that the number seven symbolizes spiritual perfection. Or, some consider the meaning of seven to be just perfection. It is also quite common to see that the duplication of a number, in this case 77, intensifies the meaning of the number. Therefore, Jesus as the 77th of God is an intensification of the spiritual perfection of man.
But, we can also see 77 as 7 x 11. Seven and eleven are the only two factors of 77.
Google the meaning of the number 11 in the Bible and you will find that most people say that it means it disorder, chaos, or incompleteness. And, in many ways, I believe this to be true. However, I think there is another meaning to the number 11 that is more applicable to Jesus.
The first time the number 11 is used in scripture is Genesis 32:22. In this story, Jacob receives a revelation from God and who he is as his name is changed from Jacob to Israel.
The second time we see the number 11 is in Genesis 37:9. The context of this passage is Joseph’s dream, or revelation, of who he is and what he will do.
Deuteronomy 1:2 says that it was an 11 day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea. Horeb means arid or desert. It was literally a dry place. Kadesh-barnea means the holy purifying wanderings or the holy place of the desert wandering. Kadesh-barnea was an oasis of watery place in the desert. So, it took 11 days to get from a dry place to a place of water. Water often represents spiritual of revelation. So, 11 days was the time it took get to a place of revelation.
Also, it was to the eleven disciples that Jesus, after his resurrection, gave the revelation of all Scripture, which was that the son of man, the Christ, had to suffer, be rejected, be crucified, and rise from the dead three days later.
So, the number 11 can be seen to have a meaning of revelation.
Therefore, as the 77th of God, Jesus is the revelation of of God in the spiritually perfect man. Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” And, Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”
There is another important meaning to Jesus as the 77th of God.
Lamech was the seventh from Adam through Cain. We could think of Lamech as the perfection, or completeness, of the fallen line, the seed of the serpent.
What was the epitome of Lamech, of the fallen line?
Genesis 4:23-24 says, “Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.'”
Through Lamech, the fallen line of Cain, the seed the serpent, we see that 77 is related to complete and total vengeance. This vengeance even comes completely our proportion to the offense as Lamech would kill a man for merely striking him.
But, Jesus completely transforms the meaning of 77 to forgiveness from complete and total vengeance.
John the baptist came to prepare the way of Jesus. He was the voice of one crying in the wilderness.
How did he do this?
Luke 1:77 says that John the baptist was “to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.”
“And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:3)
So, in Luke 4:18-19, Jesus announced his ministry by quoting Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
In these verses, the Greek word for liberty is the same word that is exclusively translated forgiveness everywhere else in the New Testament. Jesus’ ministry was one of forgiveness.
So, Jesus was the 77th of God, the revelation of the spiritually perfect man, the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of God’s nature, who transformed the complete and total vengeance of fallen man, seen in Lamech taking vengeance 77 fold, to complete and total forgiveness.
Therefore, Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against men, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
The end result of Jesus as the 77th of God, the perfect revelation God’s nature in man, was repentance and forgiveness of sins.
Luke 24:45-47 says, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and on third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.'”