Wednesday

The Gospel of Luke - Chapters 2 & 3


What do we read about in the second & third chapters of Luke's Gospel?
What do we learn from Luke?


What is the main focus?
Is it important to know the words from this chapter?







I am doing this in response to an Advent Reading challenge where we read 1 chapter of the Gospel of Luke per day from 1st to 24th December which will allow the whole book to be read.



If you missed The Overview and first chapter please click HERE to read about that and then come back to continue with us for chapters 2 & 3.



Let's look at the 

Second Chapter of Luke.



The Census  v. 1-5:

The first notable thing here is that we are clearly told under who's reign Jesus was born
Caesar Augustus
Caesar being the title (hence many times we read of Caesar in the Bible but we must not assume they are all the same one) and his name being Augustus.

Then we are clearly told that a man called Quirinius was the Governor in Syria which helps historians even more to determine the historical time for this important birth.

This clearly agrees with the facts we saw in the overview about Luke being methodical and chronological in his writings.

Joseph and Mary have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census to be conducted and this is a large census which in verse 1 is described as being worldwide - obviously the area of the world ruled by the Romans.    
I felt the fact that Mary having to go with Joseph, even though she was not yet married to him, was an indication of the significance of engagement which in our day and age does not hold as much importance any more.


Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem  v. 6-7:


This was one of the most significant parts of this chapter for me.

Only 2 verses to tell about the birth of Jesus.
Yet within them we know 

1.  it happened in Bethlehem
2.  it was during the census time
3.  this baby was her first-born son
4.  the baby was wrapped in cloths
5.  the baby was placed in a manger for a bed
6.  the family were not in the proper accommodation we would normally use.

No other superfluous information but the basic facts.




The Birth is Announced to the Shepherds v. 8-20:

The first people to hear about the birth are the shepherds and they are treated in a special manner being told by an angel.  

Here we have one of the well-known statements of Christmas in verses 10-12 

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.


They were given the special message that needs to be not only thought about each Christmas but also throughout the year as it is Gospel there in verse 10

The gospel is "good news of great joy" and it is meant to be for all people.






Notice in verse 11  we are told the baby is "Christ the Lord"  - the earliest acknowledgement of His title which in the Greek means "chosen one" or "anointed one" and the word for this in Hebrew gives us the title of Messiah.

However not only was one angel sent but then a multitude of angels come to sing praises unto God.

and in verse 14  the multitude of angels say "on earth be peace among men"  another of the most used phrases of Christmas.








The shepherds are instructed not to be afraid in verse 10  and when the angels leave they do show they are not afraid by going straight away to look for the baby.

they find the baby 


verse 16

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

just as they had been instructed in verse 12 as can be seen above and this is the link up with         verse 7 where even though the event of the birth was so briefly described it did include the mention of the manger.

The shepherds then were the first to present the Good News of Jesus to the people in  verses 17-18


I love the mother's heart in verse 19
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.


Do we ponder the words like Mary did?




Jesus Presented at the Temple  v. 21-40:


Luke now tells us about the presentation of Jesus at the temple after He had been named Jesus as the angel Gabriel had said and He had been circumcised as the custom was.

verses 23 & 24  give us the reason for the trip to the temple in Jerusalem - to offer the sacrifice for the first-born being Holy unto God.


There were two other events while in the temple that were important enough for Luke to recount them here.


The meeting with Simeon

Simeon was righteous & devout and the Holy Spirit was upon him  - verse 25
The Holy Spirit had told him he would not die before seeing the Christ  -  verse 26
He took the baby in his arms, blessed God and gave us the great words of
verse 30
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation


The meeting with Anna

Anna was a prophetess  - verse 36
Anna was a widow verse 37
Anna was 84 years old verse 37
Anna spent all her days in the temple, serving, praying & fasting verse 37
Anna gave thanks to God as soon as she saw the baby -  verse 38
Anna witnessed to all those seeking for the Messiah -  verse 38


Lots of info on these two people from the factual accounts of Luke but also so much to continue to ponder over and follow their examples.








Not a lot is ever told about Jesus in his younger days but do we really need much more than this verse?

verse 40
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.



Feast of the Passover at Jersusalem  v. 41-52:

They went to Jerusalem to the feast every year according to  verse 41

But when Jesus was 12 there was a difference in His visit; he was no longer the young child constantly in his parent's eyesight and company but now was off to do what he felt called to do.

We are not told of any year after this being significant but I believe that is because the rest of them were all like this one in that Jesus was as verse 49 tells us
 about His Father's business


Even though Jesus knew what He had to do with His life it did not mean that He treated His parents differently and considered Himself to be wiser than they, He was still obedient and respectful of them as we see in verses 51-52

51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Again notice those sayings of Jesus were kept in His mother's heart.






  
I really feel that in Luke's account of chapter 2 we have 
 the reason why Jesus was born

 and 

the "great joy for all" being made more important

 than the details of the actual birth.




Already there has been so much said that we should all be pondering these things in our hearts just as Mary did.







Let's look at the 

Third Chapter of Luke.



John The Baptist Preaches v. 1 - 18:


Again in the first 2 verses we are given dates, reigns and locations
1.  The precise time in history -  15th year of Tiberius Caesar  (note a different Caesar from before)
2.  Governor of Judea was Pontius Pilate
3.  Herod was Tetrarch of Galilee - a Tetrarch was the governor of one of four divisions pf a country or province in the Roman Empire
4.  Herod's brother Philip was Tetrarch of another region
5.  Lysanias was Tetrarch of another region
6.  Annas and Caiaphas were High Priests.


This was a distinct time when John heard from God and he went into the district around the River Jordan preaching and baptising for repentance and forgiveness of sin.  verses 2-3


Luke also in verses 4-6 makes sure we know this was in fulfilment of a prophecy by Isaiah.


John was straight with the people and clearly showed them what they needed to do  verses 7-14 

This made some people wonder if John was the Christ - the Messiah everyone had been waiting for.
However He portrayed the difference between him and Jesus in

verses 15-17
15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.


John is imprisoned v. 19 - 20:

For the personality of Luke, being a methodical and chronological person, as we have seen previously, this took me by surprise to see that he then relates about Herod putting John in prison because of the pricking of Herodias' conscience.  She had been married to Philip who was Herod's brother but was now married to Herod.
Chronologically he should have put in the next section before this one because it obviously happened before he was imprisoned.



Jesus is Baptized v. 21 - 22:

We are given only two verses here with regards to the baptism of Jesus.
Within those verses Luke makes sure to highlight the Holy Spirit at work here but does not include the preamble between John and Jesus that other Gospels do.

But then surely he has brought our attention to exactly who Jesus is in verse 22  -  God's beloved Son

I have thought a few times previously about the difference in the relaying of the words at this time between the four Gospel writers.


Matthew 3 v 17




Mark 1 v 11




Luke 3 v 22
and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.


John 1 v 34
And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

Which of the four accounts do we hear most often?

Matthew's

Yet this one is the only one that uses the words that infer God spoke to the people about Jesus whereas Mark and Luke both use the words that infer God was talking to Jesus directly.

As you can see above I have made bible verse graphics of both the Matthew and the Mark verses and it was when I made the second of these that the difference struck me.   I feel that all my life I have only really heard the Matthew version yet none else wrote it in the same way and in fact 2 of them wrote it differently.








Genealogy of Jesus v. 23 - 38:


Now we see the history and lineage of Jesus.

We go back from Jesus to Adam.

Just WOW!

Makes me want to do a timeline between them but that would be so time-consuming and I'm sure others have already done this.

So I did a little search and found that Answers in Genesis have a  Bible-Timeline
We visited the Creation Museum and The Ark 2 years ago so now I'm thinking why did I not think to buy their timeline then because it is not available in their British store. 

If I ever do find time to try out making a timeline I'll share it somehow on the blog.



In my blog post for the First Day in the Book of Acts  I made the following statement

We have a lot to learn from Luke.

then I also stated

And we have a lot to be thankful to Luke for.

followed by

Makes you think even before you start reading the story.



When I did the Overview and ch. 1 of Luke I then I said


       Makes you think as soon as you start reading the story.



Now I guess I am going to be saying


       Makes me think the whole way through the book of Luke.





Makes me think the whole way through the book of Luke.





If you would like to read more of the posts in this series please click  HERE  for a list of them all.




Tuesday

SSHH Don't Wake The Baby! - Christmas Children's Book Review


Disclaimer:
There may be an affiliate link on this blogpost.

It's Christmas time again and it's Christmas Book Review time.

Today it is a book for young children about the real focus of Christmas.








We have always felt that books are very special to our family and share a love of reading but now that Fred and I have got to the "grandparent stage" we are once again looking at, buying and reading books that are suitable for the "0 - 5 years" age group.


So when I heard about this title and the fact that these books can be got cheaply - more about that later I - and knew the people who were recommending them were reliable (very important!) I was quick to tell my friend at church and if you read on you will find out what that resulted in.






Well back to testing out the book.

If a book is meant for that young age group then it should be tested with children of that age.

We have 3 grandchildren Matthew just turned 4 at the start of last month, Ruby 2 yrs 5 months and Sarah 10 weeks old, all of whom fall in this age group.

Unfortunately Sarah was fast asleep when we arrived back with Matthew to his mum and dad from having a sleepover at our house so we did not lift her out of the cot to disturb her but it will not be long before she is on Nanny or Granddad's knee as we read other stories to them all.


(I forgot to get a picture of Sarah in her cot asleep but here is one from a few days previously when she was asleep in my arms.)





So you can see this book was very apt for Matthew and Ruby because of baby Sarah and Yes even though we were reading the book together and mum & dad were chatting & laughing in the kitchen we didn't wake Baby Sarah.



We had cuddled into the big corner of our son & daughter-in-law's sofa in their living room where we always go in their house to read our storybooks together.



Ruby gets very serious when she is looking at a new book and always seems like she is trying to take in everything on the pages.






At first I think Matthew thought maybe this book was better suited to Ruby's age than to his but it wasn't too long until he was sitting forward to see the great illustrations.






At one stage you have to turn the book round in a circle to read the spiral writing and this really got Matthew's attention






 plus he then decided that he needed to check something from the previous pages before he would let me continue reading.







The book goes back and forth between referring to a baby in the family and the baby Jesus and this did not confuse either Matthew or Ruby at all.






We have a saying in our family - one which was started by our children when they were young
"No Hugging, No Kissing!" they would shout when Fred and I would get too close to each other - and it is still chanted all these years later.

So we laughed when we got to this page






The book was just a nice length for Ruby who was very attentive the whole way through.







Matthew however was a bit sad that it wasn't longer and didn't want me to close it after I read the final words.






The book is a lovely size (6ins x 6ins)  for slipping into a handbag or for little hands like Ruby's to hold.


There is also a hardback version of the book which is approximately 9ins by 9ins but I have not seen this in person.  It would be an ideal size and a sturdier type book for using to read to a group of children.


Here you can see the back cover of the book






So back to the point where I had told my friend in church about this book BEFORE I even had a copy. 

In fact the copy I had for this review was given to me by her because once she had looked it up on the website she just felt it was the right book to get for our church to give to all the children who come to our "Sonshine Club" each Tuesday (our Mums & Tots group).

She ordered 60 books to have today for our Christmas Party and because this book focuses in on Jesus as a baby and the special reason for this baby it is an ideal gift for the children to learn about Jesus, the true reason of Christmas and also for the mums and dads and grannies and granddads who sit cuddled up with the little ones they love and read of the love of God at Christmas.







Now what would be the point in me telling you about this beautiful book which would make an ideal gift for any young child if I did not tell you where to get it.

This book is written by Helen Buckley and illustrated by Jenny Brake and can be ordered from  10 of Those  a company which sell many of their books at great discounts in fact if you order now there is something like 40% off the retail price.

This company also sell some books in large quantities and when these were bought for our church event we got them for only £1 each.


So Deciding thought on this book?

Yes it's a big Tick from me and Fred and the grandkids.






Please note the book is not available through Amazon.co.UK or  .Com however you can find other books by the same author on Amazon HERE






Disclaimer:
I have NOT been offered a free product to write this blog post nor any other compensation.  
The views expressed here are completely my own.

However if  you buy an item through Amazon having clicked the link above I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.








Sunday

The Gospel of Luke - Overview & Chapter 1


What do we know about the Gospel of Luke?
What do we know about Luke?


Is it important to read this gospel?
Is it important to believe this writer?







I am doing this in response to an Advent Reading challenge where we read 1 chapter of the Gospel of Luke per day from 1st to 24th December which will allow the whole book to be read.


Before I started this I thought I should do a quick overview of the Gospel of Luke and the person of Luke Himself.



You will often hear that John's Gospel is the one written around Love but what is Luke's Gospel written around or why was it written or from what aspect because of the person of Luke.


Let's Start With Luke



Who Was Luke?


Author of The Gospel of Luke and The Book of Acts

Also known as Luke the Evangelist, not an eye-witness to the life of Jesus but was a travelling companion of Paul.

He was a doctor and a church historian.



Why Did He Write This Gospel?


Luke said himself in Luke 1 v 3-4
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 
 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 
 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,
 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

So from that we know he wanted to have an "orderly account" of the life of Jesus so that Theophilus and presumably others would be sure of what they had been told.



How Was He Able To Write it?


He travelled with Paul (as is clear from the Book of Acts)  so would have met many of the Apostles, Disciples and others who had first hand knowledge of Jesus.

He was well educated so would have been able to write down the stories he heard from others.

He was a doctor so would have had an organised manner of recording information.



If you want to know some more about Luke you can go to OverviewBible.com
or look at some commentaries.



What do we know about Luke and the Gospel he wrote for us?




Now Let's Look Briefly at an Overview of 

The Gospel of Luke



It is the longest Gospel.

It is the longest book in the New Testament.

An account of the Life of Christ set out in chronological order.

It gives us the details of the Life of Jesus.

This Gospel shows Jesus as the seeking Saviour of all people as seen in Luke ch.2 v 30-32

For my eyes have seen Your salvation

Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,

 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.

You can get more of an overview of the Gospel of Luke at OverviewBible.com







Let's look at the First Chapter of Luke.




Introduction  v. 1-4:



This has also been considered above in the section Why Did He Write This Gospel? 


It is a kind of dedication or greeting to Theophilus who was the person he also wrote the Book of Acts to as is clear in the first few verses of Acts Ch. 1

Again as in my series on the Book of Acts  I have to say that if I had skimmed over this introduction too I would have missed out on something - the fact that Luke wanted to have things written down methodically as I appreciate that type of mind.



The rest of the chapter is divided into 6 sections.


John the Baptist's Birth Foretold  v. 5-25:


Here we get the lineage of both Zacharias and Elizabeth and of course we know from later in the chapter that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins so this gives us part of the lineage of Mary as well.
Zacharias was a priest so that meant he was a levite and Elizabeth is described as a descendent of Aaron hence also a levite.

verse 6 has to be the verse that stands out here

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

What person today could ever dare to hope that this would be a statement made about them?


Then in verse 13 there is the glorious, precious message from the angel who appears to Zacharias

Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife  Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

What person today could ever dare to hope that God would answer a heartfelt prayer in such a way as this?

Not only is the prayer answered but detail and praise and honour is given to the son they are to have.

The angel gives his name to show the importance of this message and the authority he has.
Gabriel is an Archangel and was the one who appeared to Daniel in the Old Testament which would have been something a Levite like Zacharias would have know.
Imagine the impact of this revelation - Zacharias was probably sorry he had questioned how the message God had sent would be able to come to pass because of the awe and fear he would have had hearing this was Gabriel but also made confident in what he had heard because the messenger was Gabriel.   
Some people acknowledge Gabriel as the guardian angel of Israel and hence would probably believe this message from him could only benefit and bring good to God's people.







Jesus' Birth Foretold  v. 26-38:


Again we have the archangel Gabriel coming with special news.
It seems only right that it would be Gabriel as this is the greatest news to be told that Jesus the Son of God is to be born, the Saviour of the World is to become flesh.

Mary's lineage is not specifically mentioned but implied by her relationship to Elizabeth.
However Joseph's lineage is mentioned and that is important because he is of the line of David.

The baby's name is given and this baby to be is to have the throne of King David but His reign shall never end.

Mary then asks a question which could seem to be in the same way as Zacharias asked his question of Gabriel but the reaction of Gabriel is different here.  Zacharias had asked his out of unbelief so there was a consequence from that but Mary's must not have been from unbelief so perhaps hers was more of a simple how because she may have seen it as impossible but she believed the angel's words.
It looks like she asked for information not out of unbelief as is shown in her last words back to Gabriel in verse 38


Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

We can learn from Mary and Zacharias here that our acceptance, attitude and reactions are important when we hear God's Word.







Mary's Visit to Elizabeth  v. 39-45:

When Mary went to visit Elizabeth we have no account of Mary telling Elizabeth of her encounter with Gabriel.
We simply read about John leaping in the womb as Mary greets her.
But no words were needed to be spoken by Mary because the Holy Spirit was at work and gave the knowledge of the full situation to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth speaks words of blessing and is humbled by the fact that her Lord is there even though He was not yet born and she finishes with the words of verse 45 

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fullfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.

which back up the fact that Mary had previously not spoken out of unbelief when Gabriel had appeared to her.



I think that verse 37 is actually the verse of this chapter that could almost sum it all up





because throughout the chapter there were so many things that could have been unbelievable and impossible in our eyes but not with God.



The Magnificat  v. 46-56:


Here we have the words Mary spoke obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit because true worship in our hearts is always inspired by the Spirit.

She starts in praise to God from herself about the blessings she has received and continues on to end with the blessing God has been to all the people of Israel.

Perhaps this blessing or song of the Lord (whichever way people see it) is not remembered often enough today.








The Birth of John v. 57-66:

Obviously Zacharias had been able to relay to Elizabeth the name their son should have and she was not swayed by what family or others would think but believed the name was from God as well as the baby himself.

When Zacharias wrote out the name John he was able to speak again and the first thing he did was to praise God.

Such an impression was made by this that people were talking to others about it and it truly was received as a sign as to the importance of this child.



Our acceptance, attitude and reactions are important when we hear God's Word.








Zacharias' Prophecy v. 67-80:


Again we see the work of the Holy Spirit as Zacharias prophesied.

Firstly in praise of God and then secondly to speak to the baby to foretell the role John was to play in the Salvation of souls, by the preparing of the hearts of the people for the Saviour to come and stressing the role in bringing peace.


In my blog post for the First Day in the Book of Acts  I made the following statement

We have a lot to learn from Luke.

then I also stated

And we have a lot to be thankful to Luke for.

followed by

Makes you think even before you start reading the story.


Today here starting the Gospel of Luke I have to agree with the first and second statements because we do have a lot to learn from Luke as we have already seen in this first chapter.

Why?
Because the details we have here are not all brought to us in the other 3 Gospels.


However I would like to slightly change my third statement to read as follows

Makes you think as soon as you start reading the story.




Makes you think as soon as you start reading the story






Sunday Scripture - Ephesians 4 v 2


Sunday Scripture is just simply a thought or two on a Bible verse that may have struck me afresh or maybe for the first time or has always been special to me.


Today I am looking at Ephesians 4 v 2







 Today's verse talks about

        lowliness,

                  meekness,

                            longsuffering,

                                       forbearance

                                                   and love.


Such a lot of virtues to think on and try to put into action.


Can we do this by ourselves?

I don't think so.


I believe we need God's help to provide the lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, and love in our lives because they are not part of our human nature.


With His help we will be able to love others more like He loves them.

With His help we will come to the point where we will be able to


forbear one another in love


because that means to be patient with one another, have self-control in situations with each other, show restraint and tolerance in words and actions which is only possible through truly loving someone.


As always I like to make sure we are taking this verse in context so let's read the first 6 verses of this chapter

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

From this we can see that the theme here is unity, there should be no strife, no aggression, no impatience, etc. as we walk in the Spirit together and it is all because of love, the love that we all have received and the love which we are called to show to others - His love flowing through us.



It's Holiday time

          and the gardens are blooming

                    so I chose a flower to focus on

                                 when I was making a graphic for today's verse






Have you ever decided to ask God to help you grow these virtues in your life by the work of 
the Holy Spirit?


Have you ever decided to ask God to help you love others as He loves them?


This is an action on our part that God has told us we must do


but


we really need God's help because we cannot love others without it,



and we certainly cannot stand by them through everything without it.


Let's think on this as we go through this week.