“Today, in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Luke 2:11 (NIV)
During this season we will hear many words from the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Luke wrote the most detailed and extensive narratives around the birth of Jesus. He gives us insights into ordinary people who are transformed by God’s intervention in their lives. He describes two births, both miraculous: but miracles of a different order. He builds a picture that shows he has an interest in parentage: the ‘elderly’ Elizabeth and Zechariah giving birth to John; the virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus; and, in the one insight we have into Jesus’ boyhood, Jesus declares ‘Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?’
Why did Luke do this? One reason is to point us to the utter uniqueness of Jesus. Another is to show us that Jesus comes as the answer to many promises given years before and captured throughout the Old Testament. Another is to draw out our wonder and awe that God loves us so much he sent his Son to be the Saviour of world.
Luke also writes these two chapters (and the whole of his Gospel) to give reassurance to his friend Theophilus:
‘so that you may know the certainty
of the things you have been taught’
Luke 1:4 NIV
I found myself pondering what may have led to Theo’s uncertainty. He was most likely a Greek official and seems to have been an early convert to Christianity. If so, he was a Gentile in a largely Jewish community of believers. Was he wondering if he really fitted in?
Luke and Theo were living in times of political instability. Residing in occupied territory, racial and religious tensions were mounting and only a few years later Jerusalem would be destroyed.
Maybe there were personal experiences that raised doubts and questions in Theo’s mind: health issues; bereavement; stress. He needed reassurance.
So, his friend Luke writes a carefully researched (with eyewitnesses) account of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus to help Theo be certain. Certain that Jesus is authentically the Saviour of the world.
As we journey through the Christmas story this year, with all the uncertainty around us, may we experience Luke’s intention: reassurance about the foundation of life being Jesus Christ. He is the King and ‘his Kingdom will never end’ (Luke 1:33 NIV).
Wishing you a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year,