Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Sep 30, Luke 1, John 1.

Today's readings are Lk 1 and Jn 1. Tomorrow's are Mt 1 and Lk 2. 

Luke is written to Theophilus, a Gentile, most likely a believer. Luke is careful to explain Jewish customs and beliefs throughout his gospel to his friend. Luke, a close friend and sometimes traveling companion to Paul, makes it clear that the gospel is for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. He wants to show Theophilus that his salvation is assured. 

We hear in Luke 1 that, after 400 years of silence, God is sending the messenger mentioned in Malachi 3:1a, a prophet, to His people. The messenger is announced supernaturally and will be a herald of the Son of the Most High. We get a lesson in believing by faith from the messenger's father, Zechariah, a priest, who wants proof of what he hears (Luke 1:18). 

Another supernatural announcement heralds the arrival of Malachi's second messenger who is the Lord Himself (Mal 3:1b) We see a contrast between Zechariah and Mary the virgin girl. Mary believes unconditionally. Zechariah does not. This is a dark portent of what is to come with some of the people believing and many of the priests and members of the Sanhedrin refusing to believe.

Mary sings an intimate, beautiful song of praise (Luke 1:46 ff). This is not the first time we've seen a woman who makes a significant contribution to the Scriptures. Keep your eyes open as we read Luke. He does much to cause perceptions of women in the first century to be challenged. It is one of the under-currents of Luke. And, it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. 

Luke establishes the order of arrival of the Lord and His herald. The herald, John the Baptist, goes before the Lord, Mary's baby, just as he will when they begin to minister. An Old Testament pattern is repeated here, God sends a prophet (John) prior to the arrival of judgment (Jesus, John 9:39). 

One of the popular misconceptions about the Bible is that the Old Testament (OT) is about the Law and the New Testament (NT) is about grace. Having just finished reading the OT, we saw that is is full of the grace of the Lord as He is patient with His disobedient children. With the arrival of His only Son, the dividing line will be set. Those who reject Him will be judged eternally. 

John is not a synoptic gospel, like Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is not a broad overview, a synopsis, of Christ's life and ministry. It is more of a theological treatise and foundation for who Christ is and what He came to do. Chronology is not a concern for John, and is played with fairly loosely, as he makes his case for Jesus being the Messiah.

John tells us the Word is God and tangibly manifests as Jesus in the flesh, the "incarnation". John the Baptist publicly identifies Jesus as being the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." While Luke establishes the nature and order of arrival, John defines the roles of the Messiah and His herald. John proclaims, Jesus calls.

Jesus begins calling His disciples, some of them supernaturally. Notice that those who follow do not hesitate in going with Him. Yet, the only ones who will, as we will see, ultimately remain committed to Him are summoned by Him.  

Significantly, Jesus reveals to Nathaniel (John 1:51) that He is the ladder Jacob saw going up into heaven (Gen 28:12). In other words, Jesus is they way into heaven. The full import of this revelation is not yet apparent to those who are there when Jesus says it. 

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