Archive for December, 2008

January 4th, 2009 – Luke 2:22-24

Monday, December 29th, 2008

The Long Awaited One

Luke 2:21‐38


All Jewish parents of male children were instructed by the Law to circumcise them on the eighth day following their birth (Lev. 12:3). Therefore, Mary and Joseph, being obedient to God’s instruction, brought the baby Jesus to the temple to fulfill their obligation to the Law.

The requirements of the Law also included a sacrifice for the purification of the mother. The birth conditions, like the days of her normal menstruation, made her ceremonially unclean for seven days. The time of her purification was to last an additional thirty‐three days, after which she was to offer a sacrifice of purification. The sacrifice was to be a lamb and a young pigeon or a turtledove. But if the mother was poor and could not afford a lamb, she could offer two turtledoves or two young pigeons (Lev. 12:1‐8). Such was the case of Mary and Joseph. The text informs us that Mary’s sacrifice was two young turtledoves (or pigeons).

The passage before us gives us the details of this most important event in the beginning days of our Lord’s life.

Our Study of the Text

    1. His name is given – Jesus (2:21).
      Jesus was named by His Father and that name had been communicated to Mary by the angel Gabriel (see Lk. 1:31).
    2. Mary offers her sacrifice before the Lord (2:22‐24).
      See the introduction above.
    3. Jesus is circumcised (2:27b).
      The act of circumcision was given by God as a sign of the covenant He had made with Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17:1‐14). Quite appropriately, it was included in the legislation of the covenant at Sinai (the Law of Moses) – a parallel covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham (Lev. 12:3; see Gal. 3:15‐29).

    It seems most appropriate in such a circumstance that God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would have planned for significant witnesses to be present. Two such people appear on the scene.

    1. The witness of Simeon (2:25‐35).
      1. His character: righteous and devout (2:25a).
      2. His faith: looking for the consolation of Israel (2:25b).
      3. His blessing from God: the Holy Spirit revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (2:26).
      4. His proclamation – part one (2:29‐32).
        The incarnate God had come into the world to bring salvation through his death – a salvation that would be for all people, Jew and Gentile alike.
      5. The response of Mary and Joseph (2:33).
        They were amazed at what was said about Jesus. The Greek term is thaumazō which has the sense of being extraordinarily impressed or disturbed by something, hence to marvel or to be amazed.
      6. His proclamation – part two (2:34‐35).
        This part of Simeon’s proclamation was prophetic in that it related information about the life of Jesus Christ: some Israelites would embrace Jesus as the promised Messiah, others would not; his life viz. his words and miracles, would be a sign to the nation that he was the promised Messiah; and his death – implied in the text, would pierce the heart of Mary his mother.
    2. The witness of Anna (2:3638).
      1. She was a prophetess (2:36a).
      2. She was from the tribe of Asher – one of the so‐called “lost tribes” of Israel (2:36b).
        The “lost tribes” were the ten northern tribes who had been taken captive by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., and had never returned to the land of Israel in mass.
      3. She was very old and served in the temple 24 hours a day through a dedicated ministry that included prayer and fasting (2:36c‐37).
      4. Her proclamation, while not specifically recorded by Luke, nonetheless was focused on the promised Savior who was to redeem God’s people. It is clear that Anna saw the prophecies about the promised savior as being fulfilled in the baby before her – Jesus, the Christ of God (2:38).
    • Jesus Christ is God’s promised Messiah – the seed of David and the Savior of all people.
    • The details of the birth of Jesus – including his circumcision, fulfill messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
    • We often need to ponder the significance of biblical revelation because the truth contained therein is often counter to human intuition.

Introduction to the Gospel of Luke

Monday, December 29th, 2008
  1. Author: Luke
    1. Eternal Evidence
      1. Early acceptance by the Church Fathers.
      2. Strong manuscript support [The Oldest MS of Luke, Bodmer Papyrus XIV, cited as p75 and dated AD 175-225, ascribes the book to Luke. Tradition attaches no other name to these writings].
    2. Internal Evidence
      1. Written to the same person – Theophilus
      2. Acts follows Luke nicely (cf. Acts 1:1-2)
      3. Vocabulary and style are very similar
  2. Date: written just before the end of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment – AD 61-62.
  3. Historical Background
    1. Place of Writing: Probably Caesarea (while Paul was in prison)
    2. Recipient of Writing: Theophilus (cf. Acts 1:1)
    3. The audience of Writing: Gentiles
  4. General Information
    1. This book was written by Luke who contributed the greatest amount of material (28%) of the New Testament.
    2. He was most likely a Gentile (his name, Loukas, is a common slave name).
    3. He does not appear to be a convert of the Apostle Paul but rather it appears that Luke was converted before meeting the Apostle.
    4. He was trained as a physician (cf. Col. 4:14). It is possible that he was trained at the University of Tarsus and there became acquainted with Paul.
    5. He was not an eyewitness to the things associated with the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Lk. 1:1).
    6. He was a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul. Luke uses the first person plural in the book of Acts when he was along with Paul (cf. Acts 16:10-16:17;
      20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16).
    7. He was especially dear to Paul and other believers (cf. Col. 4:14; 2 Cor. 8:18).
    8. He was a man of fearless devotion and loyalty (cf. 2 Tim. 4:9-11).
    9. This book is distinctively Gentile in nature
      1. He was writing primarily for the benefit of a Greek by the name of Theophilus (cf. Lk. 1:3).
      2. He explains well-know Jewish localities for his readers.
      3. He takes Christ’s (actually Mary’s) genealogy back to Adam
      4. He dates the events in the book to Roman emperors and governors.
      5. He uses Greek titles rather than Hebrew or Aramaic ones.
      6. He has little to say about the fulfillment of OT prophecy.
      7. He gives a universal perspective rather than Jewish one in relationship to the Messiah. The Messiah is the One in whom all the families of the earth are blessed.
    10. This book will emphasize the sinless, perfect humanity of the Lord and present Him as the Son of Man.
    11. This book will present the Lord Jesus not only as the Savior but as the example for His people to follow.
    12. This book provides the most comprehensive account of the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ out of any of the gospel accounts.
    13. This book was composed under the direction of the Holy Spirit through the investigation conducted by Luke by consulting narratives about Christ, interviewing eyewitnesses, and referring to personal memoirs.
  5. Purpose of Luke: To present Jesus as the Son of Man who provided salvation for sinful people so that Gentiles may enter the Kingdom.
  6. Key Verse: 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
  7. The Structure of the Book
    1. The Preparation of the Son of Man (1:1-2:52)
      1. Introduction (1:1-4)
      2. The Announcement of the Birth of John the Baptist (1:5-25)
      3. The Announcement of the Birth of the Son of Man (1:26-56)
      4. The Advent of John the Baptist (1:57-80)
      5. The Advent of the Son of Man (2:1-20)
      6. The Infancy and Boyhood of the Son of Man (2:21-52)
    2. The Presentation of the Son of Man (3:1-4:13)
      1. Recognition: The Ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus’ Baptism (3:1-22)
      2. Identification: The Genealogy of the Son of Man (3:23-38)
      3. Authentication: The Temptation of the Son of Man (4:1-13)
    3. The Ministry of the Son of Man (4:14-9:50)
      1. The Announcement of the Ministry of the Son of Man (4:14-30)
      2. The Authority of His Ministry (4:31-6:11)
      3. The Message and Messengers of the Kingdom (6:12-49)
      4. The Activity and Power of the Ministry of the Son of Man (7:1-:50)
    4. Instruction and Rejection of the Son of Man (9:51-19:27)
      1. The Rejection of the Son of Man (9:51-11:54)
      2. The Instruction of the Son of Man (12:1-19:28)
    5. The Last Week of Ministry in Jerusalem Ending in the Death of the Son of Man (19:29-23:56)
      1. Monday: triumphal entry (19:29-44)
      2. Tuesday: cleansing of the temple (19:45-48)
      3. Wednesday: the question of his authority and future things (20:1-21:38)
      4. Thursday: his betrayal begins (22:1-6); Passover Meal, Gethsemane and arrest (22:7-53)
      5. Friday: denials, trial, crucifixion and burial (22:54-23:55)
      6. Saturday: rest (23:56)
    6. The Resurrection and Post-resurrection Ministry of the Son of Man (24:1-53)
      1. Resurrection (24:1-12)
      2. Men on the road to Emmaus (24:13-35)
      3. Appearances of the Risen Son of Man (24:36-53)

December 14th, 2008 – Joseph’s First Christmas

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

Matthew 1:18-25; Isaiah 7:14; Proverbs 3:5-6

The Christmas season is one of those times that people anticipate for the celebrations, gifts and often to watch children and their innocence and awe until the big day. On the flip side there are soften some inconveniences included in travels, families and other arrangements.

Think through some of your holiday stories as you read the text for Sunday December 14, Matthew 1:18-25.

What Christmas stands out as particularly inconvenient…traveling, sleeping arrangements, no reservations, lost luggage, awkward gifts, family tension, times that were more enduring than enjoying, compounding stress or overwhelming discomfort?

Matthew’s genealogy in the preceding verses has brought to mind some of the heroes of Judaism. Now Matthew introduces us to Jesus Christ…beginning with his remarkable birth. As the litany of this genealogy comes to a close Matthew describes a “genesis” ( which is the Greek word), translated “birth”, in verse 18. It is a new beginning from the Eternal One; this is no ordinary birth.

Read John 1:1 for another beginning.

According to verses 18 and19 Joseph must have been more than a little surprised! Mary, to whom he was “pledged,” was found to be pregnant (Matthew tells us by the Holy Spirit). His hopes and dreams of a family seemed to be coming to a crashing end. When we see such a situation today it is generally on the evening news once the jilted boyfriend has carried out a crime of passion. However, Joseph’s response to Mary’s situation captures a sense of his “righteousness” even as it propels him out of his comfort zone. Instead of thinking only of himself he sees something bigger in these circumstances. Matthew relates to the reader Joseph’s desire to “quietly” fix the situation for both his and her reputation.

Consider this couple to whom God trusts His son.
Read how Luke describes Mary by her response, Luke 1:26-38, 46-55.
Matthew tells about Joseph in v. 19.
How would you describe their character?

At the first Christmas this holy couple would experience the stress of the holidays in a profound way. People would be talking and question their character. They would create stories with faint murmurs of truth but not ever know the whole story. The glances and stares from people in their village would pierce the couples’ heart. There may even have been places they wouldn’t be welcomed after the pregnancy became too obvious.

In the face of stress how open are you to hear from God?

Joseph surely approached these circumstances with a prayer for wisdom. In verse 20 as he “considered” these things, God shows up. I have to wonder if that scared Joseph a little more. Here is a dream with a divine visitor then, he is told that Jesus, God’s Salvation, will be living under his roof and that Jesus will save the people from their sins. Whew! He could have even said, “Marrying a girl who is already pregnant is enough, don’t you think, God?” When life doesn’t make sense God is there. His will is best.

Read Proverbs 3:5-6
How flexible are you when God’s best plan differs from your good plan?

According to law Joseph could have divorced Mary and still been considered righteous but the truly righteous seek God and are open to His plans. Looking at his own plans alongside God’s plans Joseph chooses God’s. In a dream God tells Joseph to look at the eternal purposes in his circumstances. Joseph was open to God’s words and further demonstrated his righteousness through obedience as “he did what the angel commanded him,” verse 24. Joseph didn’t settle for a legal sense of righteousness, he pursued rightness in God’s eyes.

Here are a couple of verses about righteousness: Genesis 15:6; Psalm 17:5; Matthew 5:20, 6:33; 1 Peter 2:24

In Matthew 1:22 we find prophecy fulfilled. This specific reference is to Isaiah 7:14. Matthew is writing to a primarily Jewish audience and he uses the Old Testament they would be familiar with to point out the signs of the Messiah. I’m sure you have heard the astronomical probabilities of these prophecies coming true in one person (Professor Peter Stoner found that the probability that 8 prophecies being fulfilled in one person to be 1 in 1017 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000). Check out several more prophecies found in the Old Testament:

Genesis 22:18, 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Psalm 22:6-8, 35:11, 41:9, 69:4, 9, 78:2; Isaiah 7:14, 9:1, 11:1, 35:5-6, 40:3, 50:6, 53:7, 12; Jeremiah 23:5, 33:14-16; Daniel 9:24; Amos 8:9; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9, 11:12-13, 12:10; Malachi 3:1*

Lastly, notice the name of God’s son. The Hebrew form of Jesus is “Joshua” which means Yahweh is Salvation. In verses 21 and 25 this name becomes reality. Jesus will save people, redeem people, free people, love people… He will embody the name Immanuel, God with Us. He will mark God’s presence on earth dramatically changing history with His mission.

Now that God is with us as Christ followers, how is your mission (Matthew 28:18-20)?

This holiday season we will demonstrate lots of emotion/s. What will be noticed about you?

What is the best thing about Christmas gifts…who they are from or how thoughtful they are?

*verses and probability taken from Josh McDowell’s book Beyond Belief to Convictions.

December 7th, 2008 – Equipped to Serve (2)

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Romans 12:1-8

With some powerful imagery Paul begins to instruct the church in Rome how to live and act. In the early part of the letter he has focused on theology and it starts becoming more application oriented throughout the rest of the book. This lesson begins with a living sacrifice that affects our thinking then we are able to fully function as a body.

The church community of that era would have been very familiar with sacrifices, blood and death. But when Paul urges them to be a living sacrifice there must have been some people wondering about what he meant.

The guidelines about sacrifices in the Old Testament are outlined in Leviticus chapters 1-7. These sacrifices dealt primarily with one’s relationship to God and relationships within the community in a way that we often miss in the 21st century. In this age we try to live our lives like the “cool” and “normal” in society; more recycled green than blood red.

Paul’s goal of urging the church to be a sacrifice exemplifies the believer’s commitment to God for what He has done. God has shown us mercy and grace so we are to be moved by love, not duty, and offer our lives to Him. Through the sacrifice of our lives, our goal targets holiness and “pleasing to God.” This spiritual act becomes our worship as we live declaring God’s glory.

What sacrifices do you need to make to live a holy life?
What will you offer to please God?

For further study about this sense of sacrifice as a lifestyle read-Romans 6:1-14; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Peter 2:5

As a result of being a daily, living sacrifice we will be “transformed by the renewing of our mind.” Such continual sacrifice causes us to think differently from a world that is always looking out for its own comfort and convenience. Our desires and thoughts should be changed as well. The idea behind the word “conform” hints at unseen forces at work. These exert pressure on us to take on the shape of a worldly mold and mindset.

Paul encourages us to “be transformed by renewing our mind.” You may have heard “a mind is a powerful thing to waste” but it is also a powerful thing to fully use. With Christ in mind and having become a living sacrifice one can combat the streams of conflicting philosophies and worldviews. Our mind needs constant re-MIND-ers. Meditating on God’s word, picturing the cross, personal worship, quick prayers said throughout the day all help us to be transformed. If all we do is go to church or read our Bible every once and a while we fail to be changed.

As a result we will be able to know God’s will and keep it in front of us as our goal (remember Peter’s oops in Matthew 16:23). Many people want to know what God’s will is but their mind may not be being transformed. When we are yielded as a sacrifice we will think about life from a spiritual perspective. Truly such surrender will help people make sense out of life.

Here are a few more scriptures to read about the way we think: 2 Corinthians 3:1; Romans 13:14; Philippians 3:7-14, 4:6-8; James 4:1-3

In this list of the gifts, found in verses 6-8, Paul writes about the church being an interconnected body. Yet, it begins with “thinking” in verse 3, “do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” When no one other than Christ stands out the church functions with grace, love and power.

For further study read 2 Corinthians 5:16 and Philippians 2:3-4.

Being a living sacrifice transforms the mind and leads to unity among a body full of diverse gifts. These gifts should work together like a system and have an impact on the world around them. When the motives are right and the Source is in control the church becomes dynamic and alive.

Take a moment and consider your ministry gift and those of others in your class. What does God have in store for you? What and who can you impact as a body that you can’t individually?

Notice how the gifts when applied in the right spirit bring joy and fulfillment, verses 6-8. One finds meaning within the body according to their role and gift/s. There is no room for pride, envy or jealousy here. These distractions limit the church’s influence. What is the church known for these days…the misuse of power and pride or the service of the gifts?

What a great day it will be when Christ-followers know and operate in their gifts. God has equipped us now let’s pray and then do our part for his glory.