Monday, December 1, 2008

Luke, Chapter 1

My writings on the life of David didn't go as well as I expected, so I have decided to jump back to the gospels for a moment. Since we are now officially in the Christmas season it is the perfect time to do so. I have already written on the gospels of Matthew and Mark, so today I wanted to get into Luke’s gospel. I think this is my favorite of the four gospels because it feels like Luke is merely writing a letter to a friend. It takes a tone much like Paul’s letters later on in the New Testament.

The first chapter is a long one, but it sets up the background for the birth of Jesus. We get a much better picture of John the Baptist before his birth. He would play a major role in preparing the way for Christ’s own ministry.

11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." – Luke 1:11-17

This is very similar to the birth of Isaac as we saw in the life of Abraham. When God Himself gets involved dramatically in human affairs like this is definitely something that we should pay attention to. John the Baptist was the one who would prepare the way for Christ. To this point there have been many people who have prophesied the need for a Savior, but it was up to John to actually prepare the people of the day to receive him.

Christ Himself was going to bring about dramatic change. He challenged the very ideals of Israelite society. It is almost as if God knew that his type of change would be too radical to be completely understood, so he sent John as an intermediary.

41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" – Luke 1:41-45

This second part is important because it shows that Elizabeth understood her place. She knew she was having her own special child, but that child was merely a servant for the one that Mary would have. Even before His birth Jesus was already making changes in the hearts and minds of people.

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