Christmas Message : Thank you, Luke!
The BBC series “Who do you think you are?” has a big following. It’s the programme in which celebrities trace their ancestry, “discovering secrets and surprises from their past”. It’s fascinating viewing. Not only do the subjects themselves often see their lives in a different light, but we viewers too are given insight into what has shaped these famous people’s lives.
I reckon St Luke would have loved the format!
The opening of the third Gospel, written by Luke and very familiar to us at this time of the year, is his attempt, to give the backstory on Jesus. He didn’t have the same incredible resources that the BBC researchers have, but he did ask searching questions of those who were around at the time (Luke 1:1-4). And he uncovered some truly amazing stories as he traced Jesus’ ancestry and retold profound yet personal stories surrounding this “celebrity’s” birth. It was a truly unique piece of investigative work!
All the gospel writers tell of us the close relationship that Jesus had with John the Baptist – the man sent by God to “prepare the way of the Lord”, and get people ready for the birth of Jesus. But it is Luke who tells us of his mother Elizabeth’s “miraculous” conception considering she was barren and “well on in years”. It is also Luke who fills us in with the priestly lineage of John’s dad – Zechariah – who wasn’t convinced that this was God’s work and was struck dumb because of his doubt until the time of John’s birth!
And although Matthew in his Gospel tells us about the strange circumstances surrounding Jesus’ conception and birth, it is Luke who elaborates on the story and includes the beautiful encounter between the angel Gabriel and Jesus’ mother Mary as her pregnancy is announced. For good measure Luke also includes the lyrics of the songs Mary and Zechariah sung in praise of God because He really had powerfully and profoundly entered into their lives in a way that would significantly impact the world.
I applaud Luke for his investigative enthusiasm!
I also thank him for the insights he gives us of how God works powerfully in very different people. And whilst some in the BBC programme can talk of their sense of personal destiny – and maybe even the part that chance and good luck have played, Luke’s story is about the Divine will unfolding. It’s the story of pretty ordinary folk allowing the flow of the Holy Spirit to shape events that affect them, those around them – and the course of our own lives as the Saviour of the World makes his appearance.
Have a truly blessed Christmas.