In the second year of Harold Wilson’s second government, the twenty third year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and the first year of Comhairle nan Eilean, Catrìona was born. ‘Abair naidheachd’, I hear you say. Nighean Mhurdanaidh Catrìona Dhòmhnaill Iain Ruaidh. ‘So what?’ you add carelessly.
Well, so what indeed. We were all born sometime and we all had parents of some description. It’s part of being human. We take all that for granted.
Why, then, does Luke place a fairly lengthy genealogy of Jesus in the middle of chapter three? Surely, when you are poised for the awe and wonder of the Son of God walking this Earth, such a mundane interlude is simply so much extraneous information.
Look, though, where it is placed.
Jesus is baptised, and the Holy Spirit alights upon him. It is then that God’s voice from heaven declares, ‘this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased’.
Extraordinary. Everything about the scene tells us that this is indeed the Son of God, the promised Messiah. This is how we would have him be: exceptional.
No sooner are we growing used to this, however, than Luke intervenes. The genealogy places Jesus firmly where he was of his own free will. It reminds us not only who he was, but what he had come to accomplish.
And, for me this third of December, that is the really outstanding thing about the chapter. We know that Jesus is the Son of God, and it is no surprise to hear the Father praising his perfection.
What causes wonder every time, though, is the other part of the story: that Jesus set his glory aside to be born into an ordinary human lineage. Then you see his remarkable baptism in a different light too.
He was not an ordinary man, extraordinarily blessed; he was God with us. The alighting of the Spirit, and the blessing of the Father represent the total alignment of the trinity in a common purpose.
Most awe-inspiring of all is what that purpose was.