We are celebrating the birth of our Savior in the Christ Stream. Christmas in June! We are reading from The Message this week.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
The Savior is born today! Thank you Lord for caring so much to send the best of heaven and the whole universe; for sending yourself, so that we may know You, follow You, and be saved. Amen.
2 – The time had come for Mary to deliver the Savior and the political circumstances required Joseph/Mary to go to Bethlehem. Notice that they went up to Bethlehem from Nazareth in Galilee. It was a 90-100 mile walk with a 1300 foot rise. The KJV says that Mary was “great with child”; the Greek actually words it to read “Mary had a ‘mega-tummy’ ” – it’s true folks.
-The first outsiders invited to see the newborn king were shepherds. The significance of this as told by Luke is that Luke is writing this gospel with the intent of evangelizing the Greek speaking world. Greeks LOVE sheep/mutton (mutton gyros)/wool/lamb-skin-leather; this whole culture of shepherding. And God tells shepherds –> first! And He does so by an astonishing sign in the sky – God’s angel speaking to them. Light, a message, then a choir that filled the sky, good heavens, It was overwhelming! Another way this pierces to the heart of a Greek citizen is that they had in their legends that Alexander-the-Great was born and the arrival was announced by the greatest lightning storm that ever struck upon earth in history. So a Greek mind would read this and think, “oh my! this is even greater than when Alexander was born!” Luke is saying to them [between the lines] that though their heritage takes them back to Alexander and Philip of Macedon, their personal king was a greater one to follow; sent from God and He outdoes Alexander. So follow this Jesus. By doing this, Luke had the Greeks’ attention from the start. And notice that the shepherds left their flocks (it was night and this kind of thing is not done – y’don’t leave your sheep at night especially). But the shepherds RAN to find Jesus. [Is this Jesus really worth abandoning everything for? Is He really more important than- everything- that- is- important? –Really? Listen to Luke and hear the whole story.
-Then Jesus is brought to the Temple for dedication and for his circumcision – only Luke, being a doctor, includes this detail. The story of Simeon and Anna are legendary parts that further signify that this Jesus is long awaited and that He is well worth waiting for. This even more deeply asserted into Joseph and Marys’ hearts that they were entrusted with an assignment that carried the weight of the world upon them. It was a holy and wholly magnificent task they had to parent Jesus. Mary took all this to heart, and it never left her.
The next story has us jumping 12 years ahead to when Jesus was in the Temple as a child and He is astonishing the Teachers and leaders and the doctors of the Law. Now never forget that Luke is telling this story to Greeks and Greek was the language of the Empire – the way English is the language of the commercial world today. Greeks muse about Socrates born 470 B.C. in Athens /& Plato /& Aristotle and they wistfully discuss their books and ideas as they had for several hundred years. These were fascinating men with brilliant minds meandering about the Acropolis offering wisdom and leadership as to how to manage an Empire along with all the matters and thinking entailed therein. Well, Luke is saying, “you guys admire this?!?! Well here’s a youngster who is more enamoring and He is wowing the greatest minds for thousands of miles … and He does so at 12 years old !!” Give it 18 years and see if He isn’t the most fascinating speaker/miracle worker / healer / leader EVERRRRRRR.
3 – jumps up 18 years and John the Baptist begins preaching in the Jordan area just north of the Dead Sea and near Jericho. His preaching is so powerful and so poignant that people were coming from far away to hear him and to be baptized for forgiveness of sins. The rebuke John launched into wasn’t a wild mood swing where he suddenly went ugly on everyone. He noticed that the duplicitous leaders were starting to show up. They were there because they were upset that people were not in their normal worship services and they were thinking, “where is everyone? why are offerings down?” And this bothered them. Well rumor had spread and soon the countryside and everyone knew what was going on and where everyone was. The people had come to hear John and get right with God. But, the leaders had come to “straighten things out” and to deal with this loudmouth John/Baptist if they needed to. That’s where the surprising “brood of snakes” comment factors in.
John/Baptist tells of what God requires: be honest, share, stop manipulating and threatening and stealing, be content, clean up your act, etc. [Luke hits on this theme of financial honesty, fairness, and caring throughout his book.] John/Bpt is preparing them to meet Jesus so that Jesus would imminently arrive to a mood of “WOW, He’s Here!” v.s. “hey, who are you?” ; an atmosphere of oblivious. It worked.