Search This Blog

Monday, December 19, 2011

Luke's Christmas Story: The Theme of Prophecy

The opening words of Luke's Gospel tell us his intended purpose. He is writing a carefully investigated, orderly account of the life of Christ as an apologetic. He wants Theophilus to "know the certainty" of what he has been taught. Luke's account was so carefully investigated, it changed lives. The nineteenth century archaeologist and skeptic, Sir William Ramsey, converted to Christianity as a result of his investigation of Luke's accuracy. Even the smallest of details related to proper titles for city and regional officials were found to be correct. There was no question that Luke had done his homework.

When we apply the principles of selection and arrangement to Luke's version of the Christmas story, we can see his apologetic purpose very clearly. Luke selects material that presents evidence for the divinity of Jesus. (1) Angels appear to Zechariah, Mary, and the Shepherds. Mary is specifically told by an angel that her child will be the Son of God. (2) Miraculous signs confirm the message of the angels. Zechariah is made mute. Elizabeth conceives in her old age. Mary has a baby even though she is a virgin. (3) Witnesses confirm these appearances and miraculous signs. The crowds at the temple witnessed Zechariah's transformation into a mute. Many rejoiced with Elizabeth when she got pregnant long after her child-bearing years had ended. The shepherds bore witness to what they had seen to those in the community. (4) Prophets confirmed the identity of the baby Jesus. Anna and Simeon both identified Jesus as a the Messiah foretold in Scripture.

Luke then arranges the material to issue a challenge: Will you, the reader, respond to this evidence in faith like Mary or in unbelief like Zechariah. Mary and Zechariah present an intriguing pairing. Both received angelic visits proclaiming a miraculous birth. Zechariah did not believe it possible (even though a woman conceiving late in life is surely more probable than a virgin giving birth!). Mary believed and obeyed.

In my next blog, I will explore the theme of poverty in Luke's Christmas story.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for starting this blog Marcus I know many will be blessed. Luke's personality style does seem to be very detailed. Everything seems to have a proper to it and makes sense logically. Wasn't Luke a doctor? Whereas John's Gospel seems to come from more of a heart of the sensitive type. I tend to relate a lot more to John, I think we have a similar style. It's kinda like Jesus delivering the same exact message to sisters Mary and Martha about their brother but saying it differently to each one. They had different personalities and each needed to hear the same exact message differently and, of course, Jesus knew that!