All in Books of the Bible
Today, Jesus is hanging out with sinners. He invites one, a tax collector, into his inner circle. The result—a party! Beyond the party, there is resistance. Complaints are raised. The obvious point is to see that not all embrace Jesus and what he is doing. Expect the resistance to grow.
It can be hard. When we are confronted with not merely words, but real physical facts, our minds naturally begin to ask, “But what about…” It is no different for the religious of his day. We read of their complaints. Those who believe they have cornered the market on God. Jesus understands. He challenges them. He demonstrates his authority again—arise and walk, and so the man does.
We are all in full-time ministry—if we say we follow Jesus! And, all work that is being done for God’s glory is holy. One type of vocation is not better than the other. So, you can be in the business of making money, just do it for God—it is all his anyway! We have created a false barrier; people call it “secular versus sacred.” But isn’t everything God’s? He is about redeeming his entire world, and work offered to God—be it fishing or finances—is sacred.
I am suggesting that Jesus knows his mission. His situation required he move about. But he does not race past people, trying to check off that he has visited every town. No, instead, he understands his business is engaging people in order to show them the love of God.
When face-to-face with Jesus, our physical-spiritual world emerges in ways that Jesus, the author of the world, illuminates. Let me say that differently. If that demon was in that man (and if angels are afoot) what does that mean for you and me as we go about our day?
We will see the world react in any number of ways, normally projecting onto Jesus what they want, rather than what he has come to offer. Jesus will at times feed and heal, but he will never let them take hold of him, until his last days.
Jesus has such an inner strength inside of himself, that he is not looking to this world for affirmation. His self-worth comes from someplace, someone, else—and it frees him to be on mission. If Jesus had a Facebook page, I doubt he would be checking it hourly to see if someone new “liked” him.
To thrive in our physical world, we equip ourselves in all sorts of ways. Consider the skills you possess to thrive in this physical world. You and I need to be well equipped with the Word of God.
Jesus is the new Adam, the author of the new humanity, the one who comes to redeem and to reconcile men and women from every tribe and nation. Not merely giving himself as a ransom for the lost sheep of Israel, but pouring out himself as a substitute for the sinful children of Adam’s race. Luke’s genealogy goes all the way back to Adam!
God has been speaking through angels, a mute priest, a young girl, her aunt, shepherds, prophets, and even an unborn child who speaks for God by leaping in his mother’s womb. God’s voice has been everywhere.
This fella knows how to make an entrance. It started with the dramatic announcement by an angel. Now JB is the one making the announcements—and they are no less dramatic.
People at times express curiosity with the life of young Jesus. We get one little snippet in this part of the text. Remarkably, at this young age Jesus is already talking about doing his Father’s will—which will be his constant refrain. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me ask: are you curious? Curious about why Zechariah, Mary, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, and even Elizabeth’s baby, are jumping for joy?
Anna is remarkable. Stop and think about how Scripture describes her. She never left the temple. She was devoted to prayer and fasting and worship. I am trying to picture her. Was she quiet? Did she keep to herself? Or, was she front and center, greeting all who entered? But then I see my answer. It is in the text…
Amazing. Jesus is eight days old. He is fully human and therefore he does what fully human eight-day-old boys do: eat, sleep, and get their diapers changed. Of course he’s cute; all babies are. Yet his effect on others is beyond the “oohs and ahs” of most babies.
Jesus, being born to Mary and Joseph, is part of God’s plan—the key piece to a long-awaited puzzle. The Jewish people would be saved. Jerusalem, not merely a place, but symbolic of their national heart, would be restored. You might expect them to abandon all the old rituals and laws; after all, a new thing was happening. Yet they do not. And so, they bring the Savior of the world—their firstborn son—to the temple, and dedicate him to the Father.
Beyond their quaintness for Christmas pageants, what is the point of shepherds? We certainly have moved from the extraordinary to the extremely ordinary. And that is the point. Shepherds have a special place in God’s heart. Ordinary people are anything but ordinary in the eyes of God.
Can such a story, so far as we have read, deliver what it says? After all, in the first chapter we have had to contend with quite a bit! Luke, I sense, recognizes the challenge of believing such a story. He returns to grounding his account in history—a census ordered by one of the most powerful Caesars of all time. This is no myth.
At first these verses seem a bit like Mary’s praise we just read, but there is a difference. Most of Mary’s praise is claiming that God has done what he promised, by looking upon her with favor. Here, Zechariah is praising what has been done—but he is looking forward.
There are moments when God reveals himself—reveals that his divine and supernatural hand is present. Not to get too far ahead, but verses 68 & 78 say “God visits.” These stories Luke has put before us, the ones he has researched, interviewing eyewitnesses, are stunning. Angels appear, women who should not be able to conceive are able, men are struck mute, while the unborn leap for joy. I mentioned there was a dark time in my life when God’s light shined very brightly. I had been praying for weeks, every night, for hours. One night I was jarred awake.
There are moments in our lives when our joy erupts. We become disconnected from our center of logic and control—and after that moment is all said and done, we find it quite remarkable that we had such an outburst. Perhaps this is where Mary finds herself. Sometimes these moments come upon us—and sometimes we can move ourselves into them. But how?