May 16, 2015.
Daily Reading: Luke 1-2.
Background: Luke is the third gospel in the cannon and is written by a disciple of Christ who sets out to tell the story of Jesus in a ordered, historical fashion. Luke is known as a physician (see Colossians 4:14) and is the author of two books of the New Testament, Luke and Acts. The two books have not always been separated as they are in our cannon today, as they were once combined as two volumes of a history of Christianity. Luke uses both other manuscripts and eye witness accounts to record the story of Christ and seems to be written to a Roman audience, perhaps even a single person in the Roman guard or court. This gospel is a good place to start for an organized picture of the life of our Lord.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Intro and purpose: Luke sets out to write an organized, orderly account of the story of Christ for a certain man (or as some have suggested, a small group of people) named Theophilus, who seems to be in the Roman guard or court due to the langue that Luke uses to address him. He is doing this so that Theophilus can be assured that what he has been taught is true, and to have a record of the wonderful things that have happened recently, things that had changed the world as they knew it.
2. The parents of John the baptizer: Since the gospel of Luke is an orderly account, he begins the story with the foretelling of John the baptizer’s birth, who was to be the forerunner of the Christ, preparing the way of the Lord (see Malachi 3:1). The prophecy of John’s birth comes to John’s father, Zechariah, who was a Levitical priest that was serving in the temple when the angel Gabriel came to him to declare the working of the Lord. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both righteous before God, but they had no children because Elizabeth was barren, which seems to be one of God’s favorite ways to bring important people into this world (see Genesis 15, 25:19-28, 30:22-24, Judges 13 and I Samuel 1). The child’s name was to be called John, he was to be a Nazarite (see Numbers 6), and he would do great things in preparation for the Lord to come, turning many of the children of Israel to God, going forth in the spirit and power of Elijah (see Malachi 4:5). When the angel came to Zechariah, both he and his wife were old, and Zechariah did not believe that this thing could happen to them. Because of his unbelief, he was struck mute until the birth of the child. Though he could not speak, the other priest and servants in the temple understood that he had seen a vision while he was serving in the temple, and he communicated through signs and writing. Elizabeth indeed conceived and bore a son, and called his name John. When her friends and family told her she should name him with a family name, they turned to Zechariah to ask him what the child should be named, and he wrote “his name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and he blessed God. At the end of this chapter we read of the prophecy that Zechariah his father makes concerning the child. It was apparent that the child would do great things in the way of the Lord.
3. The mother of Jesus: After Gabriel had gone to Zechariah to foretell the birth of John the baptizer, he came to a virgin named Mary who was betrothed to Joseph, a man of the lineage of David, to give her the wonderful news that she would be the mother of the Christ, who would be given the throne of David to rule over forever, a kingdom without end. Mary was confused, as she was still a virgin, but Gabriel explained to her that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s reaction was different than Zechariah’s in that she accepted the word of Gabriel and said “let it be to me according to your word.” She then went to Elizabeth’s house to greet her and remain with her for three months, and Elizabeth’s child leaped in her womb, for the mother of her Lord had come to her. She was filled with the Holy Spirit and blessed Mary, who then went on (probably also by the Holy Spirit) to say the Magnificat, a praise to the Lord God for what He was about to do for her and for the world.
1. The birth of Christ: In the time that Caesar Augustus sent out a decree that all the people under Roman rule should be registered, Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, the city of David, to register as Joseph was of the lineage of David. While they were there, it came time for Mary to give birth to Jesus, fulfilling the prophecy of His birth in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2). They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, a sign that would be given to some shepherds nearby. The shepherds were visited by an angel declaring to them the glorious work of God, who had brought forth the birth of the Christ, the Savior who had been prophesied from the days of old (see Genesis 3:15). The shepherds went and found Mary and Joseph and told them all that the angel had said to them, and they marveled. Mary kept these things in her heart. At the end of eight days, the child was circumcised according to the Law and His name was called Jesus, just as the angel had told them to do.
2. The early life of Christ: Though we aren’t given a lot about the early life of Jesus, we are given a small glimpse into the time before His ministry here. He was presented before the Lord in Jerusalem when it was time for their purification, according to the law (see Exodus 13:2, 12). Notice that everything was done according to the law. It is apparent here that Joseph and Mary were poor (see Isaiah 11), for they could not afford to sacrifice a lamb, but rather sacrificed two turtledoves, which was allowed in the law for those who could not afford a lamb (see Leviticus 12:8). While they were in Jerusalem, two people prophesied when they saw Jesus, blessing the Lord for what He was going to do in Israel through this child. Jesus’ parents marveled at these sayings, as it seems they had not fully grasped what the child would be. Jesus would grow up in Nazareth, growing in strength and wisdom, having the favor of God. When He was a little older, He went with His parents to Jerusalem for the feast of the passover, as they went every year, but He stayed behind when His company left. Mary and Joseph did not know that He wasn’t with them, for they assumed He was just in the company, but after a day’s journey, they realized He was missing and went back to find Him. It took them three days to find the boy, and when they did, they found Him in the temple asking questions and amazing people with His answers and understanding. When His mother told them that they had been looking for Him, He asked why they were looking, for they should have known that He would be in His father’s house. Can we make this claim, that people should know where we are when it comes to spiritual things and places? Jesus’ parents did not understand what He meant when He said this, however, but his mother continued to treasure all these things in her heart. Jesus would continue to gown in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and with man.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Galatians 1-3.
Glory to God in the highest.