As we continue to focus on the reality of God becoming flesh in Jesus Christ, we shift our focus to the birth narratives over the next two weeks. Nick did an incredible job pointing us to being God’s presence to others as the “order” that came into the world. We are peace amongst the chaos of a broken creation. This week we shift our focus to Luke’s Birth Narrative and see what we can learn about how to be God’s presence in this world. Take time to read the first two chapters of Luke. You might read a different section each day and focus on what each story tells you about what God is doing in the world. Take a moment to consider the perspective of each character.
Between this week in Luke and next week in Matthew you’ll notice that the birth stories between the two gospels is quite different. This highlights how common the story of Jesus’ birth was when these gospels were written. Each writer is more concerned with highlighting aspects of the story to make larger points than to simply tell the story of what happened. So, as you read both Luke and Matthew, what point do you think they are making as they set the stage for Jesus’ ministry and ultimately his death, burial, and resurrection?
- What kind of anticipation does Luke build by withholding Jesus’ name for thirty verses?
- Look at the contrast between Zechariah’s response to God and Mary’s response. Place those responses within their context of who they are in society. Who is the hero between them? What grace and hope is Luke giving his readers who see the contrast between these two? What hope do you receive in these verses?
- Mary’s song is commonly called the Magnificat because that is the first word in the Latin. It is the gospel before the gospel, a fierce bright shout of triumph thirty weeks before Bethlehem, thirty years before Calvary and Easter. It is all about God it is all about revolution. What anthem of hope do you hear in her song? Who received the most hope from her message?
Chapter 2 begins with the adopted son of Julius Caesar, Augustus, flexing his little finger sending Jesus’ parents on a journey to Bethlehem where there was no guestroom for them to sleep in. The manger is mentioned three times in this passage. What is the significance of the manger? It is important for because it gives the shepherds their news and their instructions. It was a sign to the shepherds.
- The child they are to find is the savior, the Messiah, the Lord. It isn’t the manger that is important but who the manger points to. What is significant about the shepherds? What status do they have in society?
- We are called to be Christ in this world. When Luke tells the story of Christ’s humble beginnings, what does he tell us about how we are to be Christ in this world? Who are we to be Christ to when we realize that the shepherds are the first to behold God in the flesh?
Who are the other characters that stand out to you when Jesus is taken to the Temple?
- Simeon – Had the Holy Spirit on him, was righteous and devout.
- Anna – A prophet giving thanks to God and speaking about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
God coming in the flesh brings hope to the old who long for redemption and the widow who has dedicated her life to prophesy in the Temple. The Presence of God was brought to the Temple and she got to behold him. Who are you bringing the Presence of God to this week in your life?