Luke has become one of my favorite Biblical authors. There are several reasons for this, but one in particular is worth mentioning. While I know there are certain Christians out there that believe the entire Bible was given to us through mechanical dictation (i.e. God was moving the quill on the papyrus), I personally do not hold fast to that view. I’m not saying that the Bible is not the inspired word of God, simply that it was written by men felt the need to share what they believed and knew about God and Jesus. If God were directing their every stroke of the pen, then why would Luke have to go through all the trouble of doing vast amounts of research?
OK, so I got a little distracted there, but the main reason I like Luke so much is the fact that he did quite a bit research to develop his gospel account and follow-up book of church history. He was not a Jew. He did not personally witness Jesus’ ministry. I don’t even know how he became acquainted with “The Way” as he calls it. So as I read his gospel account, I can just imagine the conversations he had with Mary, Peter, John, and others that he had healed and impacted. I can picture him in his study at his desk, books of the law and prophets and even copies of Mark’s and Matthew’s gospels piled up next to him. I see him shuffling through his notes from the interviews he has conducted. He is forming a rough draft by candlelight, trying his best to compile and make sense of all this information he had gathered. And now we have his final product.
For the next…however long it takes, I want to go through his gospel and sequel to determine who Jesus was and what exactly was this crazy movement he founded?
Let’s start from the top. How did it all begin? What made this Jesus so special or unique in the first place? I imagine the first of several visits and interviews between Luke and Mary:
Luke: So tell me the story of how it all started. I’ve heard that you weren’t even married when you got pregnant?
Mary: Well, it all started when I was still just a teenage girl growing up in rural Galilee, a small town called Nazareth. Well, my dad had made a deal with another family in town and I was to be married to a carpenter named Joseph. I had seen him around some; he had even built a few things for my family. I knew he was a devout Jewish man, somewhat good looking, and he would work hard to provide for me and my family. I also found out that we were distant relatives. We were both from the house of David, and from the tribe of Judah. He was originally from Bethlehem.
L: So if you were not married yet, then how did you become pregnant? I know there are a lot of rumors going around, but what actually happened?
M: My cousin Elizabeth had been pregnant for about 6 months, and that was a miracle in and of itself because of her age. She had told me about the messenger named Gabriel that had told her husband that they were going to have a son, after all these years! Half a year later, the same messenger appeared before me. I was in shock, terrified, hardly able to move. I’ll never forget what he said to me in that booming, heavenly voice, “Hail, favored one! YHWH is with you.” That caught me completely off guard. I didn’t know what to think. I had heard of God sending his messengers to people like Father Abraham, or Gideon, but never me….
And so the story continues. God causes Mary to conceive a child, a baby boy – the one that would deliver Israel from exile and inaugurate the kingdom, or rule of God. More on this later.
Oh and just to dispel a couple myths concerning the birth of Jesus:
There is no possible way that Jesus was born in December. Celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25 is merely the Catholic solution to a Pagan problem (as is Easter). The fact that the emperor of Rome called a census of the entire empire indicates that this would NOT have been in the winter. Most likely it would have been in the early summer. Also note that the shepherds were watching their flocks at night, probably because it was too hot during the day.
The shepherds were there when Jesus was born, but the magi did not come until 1-2 years later. Sorry, you have to redo your nativity scene a little.
I love Christmas just as much as the next guy. I don’t even mind celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25. I just strongly disagree with anyone that actually claims that to be his birthday.
So until next time, you stay classy, San Diego.