Of all the Gospels, Luke has the most in-depth version of the Advent and Christmas story. Matthew touches on it briefly and includes the story of the Wise Men (Luke doesn’t mention the Wise Men); Mark starts right off with John the Baptist, and quotes about the prophet telling of John the Baptist’s coming to announce Jesus; John’s version is very spiritual about how the Light of Life came into the world without giving more specific details. But only Luke has the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Only Luke tells of the angel visiting Mary and Mary’s song. Only Luke has the shepherds and the inn and the stable. Only Luke has the baby Jesus in the temple and how he is declared the Savior by both Simeon and Anna. Only Luke has Jesus as a boy. And only Luke starts off the way it does (see verses above). Luke is concerned with the facts and the order and the history – and Luke is the most vigorous champion of the outsider – because Luke was an outsider himself. He was the only Gentile in an all Jewish cast of New Testament writers. That’s why there is an emphasis on those that the religious establishment left out: women, common laborers like sheep herders, the racially different like Samaritans, and the poor.
The opening verses of Luke aren’t used a whole lot – especially at Christmas time. But – Luke is interested in the facts! That’s why the beauty of the Christmas story is so relevant in our world today. We believe the story because Luke went into such detail – wanted to make sure that not only Theophilus – but everyone – new the amazing story of the birth of our Savior.
These verses are important to us in the church today because we tend to put Christmas on the front burner immediately – forgetting all the ‘order’ that led up to Jesus’ birth in the first place. Luke puts the whole story in perspective – and really gives us the importance of ADVENT – a time of preparation. Our best preparation is by focusing in on some of what happened before Jesus was born – and only Luke spells that out!
We don’t have a lot of “order” in our preparation for Christmas – do we? Our plans are always interrupted. Someone gets sick. Someone dies. We don’t think the program or the party or the present will be right. We had to cancel the “Miracle of Jesus” program this year. Was that a failure? Absolutely not! We had people take a look at Jesus’ birth in a new way that may have never even thought of it – people stepped up to volunteer – and we now will be better prepared! God is always teaching us – even in the Christmas story that we hear year after year after year.
Remember – celebrate the whole Christmas story this year! Get ready – and remember no matter what setback hit – Christmas will still come – our Savior will still be born – and life is given new hope – new peace – new joy – new love! Merry Christmas and thanks for being my church family! In Jesus’ Love – Pastor Dan