Luke 3 – Verse by Verse

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This chapter gives us a glimpse into the ministry of John the Baptist and a moment when he and Jesus crossed paths – at the baptism of Christ.  We then get a second version of Jesus’ genealogy.

Luke 03.pdf

Luke 03.mp3

Luke 1 – Verse by Verse

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Luke approached the writing of his Gospel like a historian, doing research and seeking out sources.  He begins his story with two supernatural births, first of John the Baptist and then of Jesus Christ.

Luke 01.pdf

Luke 01.mp3

Certainty concerning our faith – Luke 1:1-4

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke is writing as a historian who wants Theophilus to have certainty concerning his faith.  Many have heard of Christ indirectly or unclearly from a long distance.  Luke is giving us a detailed historical account. 

This is not a once upon a time fairy tale.  It does not take place long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.  At the time Luke was writing, it was maybe thirty years from the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He was using material he had researched and compiled for years before that.  We are confronted with a story that takes place in known places involving people that could still report as eyewitnesses.

Given all of that, one interesting thing is that as we begin to read, there is no shortage of supernatural activity.  The very first chapter of Luke records two supernatural births, of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ – who was in fact born of a virgin.  These are amazing stories that deserve a careful retelling.

As we go through this Gospel together, let’s be open to the facts as Luke has received them.  He is simply reporting what others have seen and heard.  He is taking them at their word and we should likewise take Luke at his word.

This is a Gospel that gained respect and popularity from the earliest days of the church.  If we want to be certain concerning the things we have been taught about Jesus, Luke’s Gospel is a great place to start.

 

Anticipating two births – Luke 1:24, 34-35

Here in Luke 1, we get the stories leading up to the births, and even the conceptions, of both John the Baptist and his relative, Jesus Christ.  After the angel Gabriel speaks to John’s father, we read, in Luke 1:24,

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived.

Gabriel also speaks to Mary.  When he does, he says, in Luke 1:34-35,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

Gabriel announced God’s plans to these interested participants before the children in question were even conceived.  This tells us something about God’s plans, and ours.  

I’m reminded of what God said to the prophet in Jeremiah 1:4-5,

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Jesus, John and Jeremiah all had obviously special roles to play in God’s plans for his people.  Without getting into a too-lengthy study on the subject, there is ample evidence to conclude he has specific, and therefore special, plans for each one of us.  Each human life is important and a part of God’s plan.  

The plans for each person are not special because of who we are.  These plans are special because of whose they are and whose we are as a result.  If God created us with a plan, then that is something we need to take seriously.

There is a prayer from Hilary of Poitiers (who you can read about here), in which he says,

Before I came to know you, I was nothing.  I had the misfortune not to know the meaning of life, I was without understanding of myself, I was nothing of what I am now.  It was your mercy that gave me life.  I have no doubt that you decided it would be good for me to be born, for you are good, you had no need of me and you would not have given me life if it had been to my detriment … *

Personally, I would like to live out the thoughts expressed in that prayer for the rest of my life.  Hilary does not express God’s plan or purpose for him.  He only admits that he can trust that it must be good.  God is good and deserves that kind of trust from us, his created beings.  Whatever God’s purpose and plans are for each one of us, may we fulfill them to the utmost.

*from Early Christian Prayers, edited by A. Hamman, translated by Walter Mitchell

Mark 6 Verse by Verse

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This week we will see two parallel themes. First, rejection of both Christ and of John the Baptist; then expansion – of Christ’s ministry by delegating his authority to his disciples.

Mark 06.pdf

Mark 06.mp3

A Prayer Prompted by Mark 6

Heavenly Father,

We understand that you have called us to lives of ministry, lives of service, here in this world.  Though our gifts may differ, our responsibility is much the same. We need to live completely for you.

We also understand that we will continue to learn as we serve. You do not require our training to be complete before you use us, but rather we expect you to train us as we begin to be used.

At the same time we need to count the cost.  

Jesus was rejected repeatedly in his hometown of Nazareth. People knew him, but allowed their familiarity to get in the way of seeing who he really was.

John the Baptist angered selfish rulers who engaged in immoral behavior. It eventually cost him his life. We can expect the same kind of rejection as we seek to serve you.

In Christ,

Amen.