Monday, November 13, 2006

The Birth of Jesus

December 24, 2006
Luke 1.26-56; 2.1-39

"She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2.7).

Jesus was born into a humble, righteous family. Joseph was of David's lineage (Luke 1.27; 2.4). Mary was favored by God (1.30). Joseph and Mary were strict Law-observers, in that they circumcised Jesus on the eighth day (2.21), presented him to the Lord in the temple (2.22), and offered the required sacrifice (2.24), all according to the Law of Moses (2.22, 24). They made the annual journey to Jerusalem for Passover during Jesus' childhood years (2.41). And Jesus himself grew in favor with God (2.41, 52).

Jesus' cousin, John, was likewise born into a faithful family - a priestly family (Luke 1.5ff., 57ff.; see also last week's selection, Zechariah the Priest). Luke introduces other faithful characters who played significant roles in laying the foundation for Jesus' story: Elizabeth, John's mother (1.13, 25ff., 57ff.); Simeon (2.25f.); and Anna (2.36-38). Luke shows that the Holy Spirit was upon these individuals, having empowered them for prophetic utterances concerning Jesus, and for tasks in preparation for Jesus' life: (1.15, [80], 35, 41, 67; 2.25-27; 3.1ff.). Both families of John and Jesus enjoyed the blessing of God given through visitation from God's angel, Gabriel (1.11ff., 26ff.). Angels notified shepherds of Jesus' birth, and glorified God (2.8ff.).

The setting for Jesus' birth was saturated with God's favor.

Read the birth narrative of Jesus in Luke's Gospel. Notice how God was orchestrating everything perfectly. Howe significant is Luke's set-up to his telling of Jesus' story? How does it differ from the other Gospel records? Why do you suppose there is such a difference? What might Theophilus have thought of Luke's presentation thus far?


One more thought to be taken up later:

In Luke 1.33, Mary is told by Gabriel that Jesus will "reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." There are many Old Testament references to which this fact may correspond. For now, compare this text with Daniel 7.14, 27; (2.44). The significance will emerge in a few weeks.


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