Saturday, May 20, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Luke 1-2

Note from the author: Today’s Bible reading, Luke 1-2, is one with which my readers are most familiar and so sweeping I will limit this devotional commentary to an introduction of the Gospel of Luke and a brief oversight of the miraculous events contained in these chapters that set the stage for our readings in the weeks ahead.

Evidencing the style of a scholar and the burden of a historian who comprehends his responsibility to declare clearly and accurately historical facts on the person, life and times of the LORD Jesus Christ, the physician named Luke took stylus in hand and began writing this Gospel that bears his name.

The intended recipient of the Gospel was a man identified as Theophilus, meaning “friend or lover of God” whom Luke describes as “excellent” or noble in character (Luke 1:1-4).  This Theophilus is also the recipient of Luke’s historical account of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:1).

True to the nature of a scholar, Luke states in the opening verses his credentials and authority for those things he records in this gospel:  Indisputable facts (“those things which are most surely believed”, 1:1) and eyewitness accounts received from those that were with the LORD “from the beginning” and were “ministers of the word” (1:2).

A recipient of eyewitness accounts, Luke states his reason and purpose for writing:  “That thou mightest know [understand fully; perceive] the certainty [i.e. and be secure] of those things [account], wherein thou hast been instructed [indoctrinate; taught]” (Luke 1:4).

The following is a brief summary of the balance of chapters 1-2.

Luke 1:5-25, 57-80 is the record and events surrounding the conception, birth and mission of John the Baptist, the long-awaited forerunner of the Messiah whom the prophet Isaiah described as the voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3).

The angel Gabriel announced to the virgin Mary the miraculous conception of Jesus in Luke 1:26-38 and followed by the reunion of two cousins, Mary the mother of Jesus with her elder cousin Elisabeth the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:39-56).

With the precise detailed wording of a historian, Luke sets forth not only the historical facts of the birth of Jesus Christ, but also the undeniable evidences of divine providence fulfilling the prophecies of Old Testament prophets.

1) The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7):  Joseph and Mary were citizens of Nazareth; however, God used the census and tax decree of Augustus Caesar to fulfill the prophecy that the virgin born Messiah, a son of David’s lineage, would be born in Bethlehem (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2).

2) The affirmation of Simeon and Anna in the Temple who stated Jesus was the Christ child, the “salvation…[for] all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).    Simeon prophesied the suffering and sorrow Mary would experience standing by the cross declaring, “a sword shall pierce through thy own soul” (2:34-35).

Luke does not record Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt to save Mary’s son from king Herod’s decree to kill all the children born in Bethlehem “from two years old and under” (Matthew 2:13-19).  Luke 2:40-52 records the author’s brief account of Christ’s childhood and ends with the observation: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Oh that the same would be said of each of us!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith