Monday, October 31, 2011

New Year: Luke 2-3 for Oct 28

Luke 2 "says things" that you can't say in a textbook way about Christmas. Today there are two tasks laid out, to say something you may have overlooked about Christmas ("how is that possible?"), and to overlook something that others have said about these chapters, and substitute something better.

(Matthew 3:1:17 and Mark 1:1-11 are in sequence with Luke 3, when we view them "synoptically.")

There's something very interesting about the drama of Luke 2:8-14. In Luke 1, the reader can't help noticing that Mary and Zacharias spoke and prophesied about a "done deal": God has done something. At that point, Christ hadn't even been born yet, but was in Mary's womb. Yet to Zach and Mary, God "has brought down rulers" (Mary, 1:52) ... "God has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people" (Zach, 1:68). Done deal. See also Mary in 1:48, 53-55, and Zach in 1:69-71.

In 2:11, however, the fact has occured, "there has been born for you a Savior." The solitary angel ("I bring you," 2:10) gives the news, and the sign. Abstract news? No. "I bring you good news" (2:10). Just that somebody was born, in the "that's nice" kinda-non-newsy way? No. "...born for you" (2:11): for the shepherds. Those shepherds? Yes! One angel. Did you notice that before? In the sky? No. "There stood before them". The angel was right there in front of them (2:9).

Next (2:13), not in the sky, but "with the angel," the next event: "suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host..." On the ground! The Son of God in a manger, and angels on the ground. No need to be embarrassed that the Son of God was born on terra firma, and no need to stick these angels in the sky.

OK. The next task is to talk about how Luke says things that are better than what people have said about Luke 2-3. People have said that there is a gap in our knowledge of the Lord's life, between Luke 2 and Luke 3. Perhaps that habit of mind comes from seeing the date on each page of printed newspaper we read. Don't know. We do, however, have to allow Luke to say things as he wants to, and the Bible in general.

When a prophecy is true, then what it says is true, even if it is said before it happens. What Mary, and Zacharias, and OT prophecies already said about the Messiah is true, even if it is said before it happens, even if it not said after it happens.

Isaiah 53:2 says "He grew up before Him like a tender shoot / And like a root out of parched ground / He has no stately form or majesty / That we should look upon Him / Nor appearance that we should desire Him." Prophecy. It informs us about Jesus's growing up.

Prophecies, however, are not the only way that Luke has told us about the Lord's upbringing. He's been talking about it since 1:5! Zecharias and Elizabeth -- Mary's relatives, whom she stayed with while pregnant with Jesus -- they are lock-step with God's ways (1:6) and Jewish lineage as specific as Jewish lineage can be expressed (1:5). Angels visit both, announcing events! Luke is telling us of the way of life of these particular people, and of Mary's way of life in community with them. Joseph? Lineage of David (1:27). But was Joseph the father of Jesus? It was "as was supposed" only (3:23). But Jesus "of Eli!" (The Greek doesn't say "son",but the list is uniformly, "of A, of B, of C," etc. How could Jesus not be biologically "of" Joseph, but only the supposed descendant, yet be of Eli? Very likely through Mary, as Warfield has researched. So Mary was also daughter of David. The Lord's upbringing was as a son in the line of David. Anything else cluing us to the contents of Luke 2:53 - 3:00? What did Joseph and Mary, pointedly "His parents," do "every year" (2:41)? The required trip. Why did they "not find Him" (2:45) after a day's travel? Isn't the best explanation, that of His uniform trustworthiness?" Could it not be that He was so trusted by them, at this point, that a full travel day of trust was a matter of course, already a common thing.

Not just to hear about it from humans, how about God? Before Jesus even embarked on a single journey of teaching and healing, God appears, and says to Him "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased" (3:22). What else could we ever want to have, which covers Him in every aspect including His upbringing until that point, along with His relationship to God the Father?"

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