Summary: In a logical and well-researched manuscript, Luke helps the skeptical and scientific know that the account of Jesus is fully trustworthy. We can learn from the shepherds as we develop awe, accept the message, and act on it.
Christmas According to Luke
Rev. Brian Bill
December 20-21, 2014
Bridge from “Still He Came”
We wander and we’re accustomed to darkness, blinded by our own sins as we turn our backs on you. And yet, Jesus you still came…for us.
And so here’s a question. How do we know that it’s even true? Can we have any confidence that Christmas really happened? Can we know with any certainty that the Savior has come?
We’re continuing in our series called, “Christmas According to…” Two weeks ago we heard from Matthew and learned that at its heart Christmas is a call to conversion and commitment as Jesus still turns to you and to me and says, “Follow me!” The Gospel of Mark reminded us that even if we’ve failed or folded, the coming of Christ means we can have a fresh start.
Luke’s approach is a bit different. He’s a reputable historian who did some deep research, conducting intensive interviews to put his narrative together. The closest contemporary illustration of his approach is how Laura Hillenbrand went about writing the history of Louis Zamperini, the legendary Olympian and war hero. Critics have called her a “research genius” and one of the “best writers” alive today. She conducted 75 interviews and pored over countless historical documents, taking 7 years to write “Unbroken,” a 496-page biography of Zamperini’s life.
Ruth MacAnally allowed me to borrow her audio CDs and I became so engrossed in the story when I was listening in the car that I would do laps around the block before coming home. I couldn’t wait to hear what happened next so I went to the library and checked out the book. I would then figure out where I had last listened to the audio and pick up the story in the book, reading large chunks. Then, when I got back in the car, I’d fast forward to the place I had left off in the book and then repeat the process until I finished the story.
While Hillenbrand is a great historian and author (she also wrote Seabiscuit), she’s nothing like the gospel writer Luke who researched the life of the Lord Jesus. He interviewed eyewitnesses and pulled together other source material. As a physician, he was careful, thoughtful and persuasive. As a scientist, he was accustomed to handling data and details as he crafted it all together in a compelling narrative we know as the Gospel According to Luke. By the way, if you have a skeptical and scientific mind with a logical bent, this book is for you.
In the opening verses of his gospel, he uses classical Greek to show that his research was deep and his interviews intensive. He is no doubt a man of culture and high education. Listen to verse 1: “…to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us…” That’s a common phrase that was used when recounting history.
Check out verses 3-4: “…to write to you an orderly account…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” That helps us know that this is fact, not fable. What’s contained in this book is inspired and inerrant, it’s not legend but the actual life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke’s purpose was to present Jesus in all His fullness, focusing on verifiable facts so his readers could know that His account was absolutely accurate and remarkably reliable.
It’s important to know that the Bible is true but we also want to grow in our understanding of the Scriptures. And the only way to do that is to read it every day.
As we approach 2015, we want to provide some tools to help you dive deep next year. Can you take out the insert in your bulletin? What would your life look like if you set aside 15 minutes a day to read the Bible and pray in 2015?
This week I took our youngest daughter Megan with me to deliver Christmas gifts to some shut-ins. Our first stop was to Evelyn Skaggs, who is a joyful and peaceful 94-year-old, and a long-time member of Edgewood. Megan and I were moved to learn that she prays for our whole family by name every night. In the course of our conversation Evelyn humbly mentioned that she has almost finished reading the Bible through this year.
When I asked her what plan she is using, she reached for a book that helps her stay on track. And then she handed me another devotional. And then another one was added to the stack. She handed me a fourth booklet and then a fifth. I opened each of them to the bookmark and saw that each one was marking the very day we were there. And then she added humbly, “Plus, I read the Bible every day.” I asked to see it and got teary as I flipped through well-worn pages held together by a weathered leather cover. I asked her how long she spends reading and she smiled and replied, “About an hour a day.” That explains her joy and peace, doesn’t it?