Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Daily Reading: Luke 2v1-21 'An Unexpected Answer'

There are two sections in our reading this morning the first is the action (1-7) and the second is the explanation (8-20). It’s a bit like a DVD; you can watch the film but you can also watch the director’s commentary where he tells you why things were done and what their significance is. (8-20) is the director’s commentary; God tells the shepherds the significance of what is happening.

The big question is; how does this baby and all the events surrounding his birth bring peace? And the key to understanding the action, the events is (11); “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

There are three titles given to the baby who has just been born here and they are words that I guess we’re pretty familiar with, but we’re going to think about them this morning as we think about what it means for him to bring peace.

a. Saviour - What does the word Saviour mean?  A saviour is a deliverer, one who delivers his people from grave danger. In the Old Testament you get a great picture of it with the judges. Israel rejects God and is then defeated by its enemies and then they cry out to God to be saved. And God sends then deliverers in the form of judges like Deborah, Gideon and Samson. The deliverer saves the people and for a time Israel prosper. But the problem is that Israel then falls back into its old ways, forgets God and the cycle starts again.

But in the New Testament ‘Saviour’ refers to God or to Jesus as the one who rescues those who believe in him from God’s righteous anger because of our rebellion to the peace of being in a right relationship with God.

The director’s commentary point 1 this baby is a rescuer.

b. Messiah - What does the word Messiah mean?  It means anointed one. In the Old Testament the Messiah would be the long promised, long awaited one from David’s line, one who was a descendant of the line of Israel’s greatest king – David. And do you notice how Luke records the birth? What does he say about it?

As Caesar and Quirinius look to show their power by ordering a census God is ensuring that Jesus, the Messiah is born in (4) “Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.” It is emphasised again in (11) as the angels tell the shepherds where he is born “in the town of David”. Why does his birth place matter?  Because 650 years before God promised through Micah:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

Details matter; why does Luke emphasis the birth place? Because it reveals who this baby is, ordinary birth but extraordinary child. The directors commentary point 2 this is not just a rescuer this is a royal rescuer.

c. Lord - What does the word Lord mean?
In Luke “Lord” means absolute sovereign and divine salvation bringer. That’s a phenomenal statement to make about a new born baby isn’t it? This baby a few hours old is the divine salvation bringer, in other words this is God in human form.

But Luke hasn’t just had a brainstorm, he hasn’t just thought hmmm this account needs a little glitz a little glamour, ah I know I’ll say he is God. Luke reaches that conclusion because that is where the evidence takes him. Just think back to that 650 year old promise we were just thinking about of “one who will be ruler over Israel…” and come from Bethlehem.

It doesn’t just stop there in its description of him; Micah makes clear that he is no ordinary ruler “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” That is a Hebrew description of God; it is describing his eternal nature. This baby is the eternal ruler; this baby in the manger is God incarnate. God in human form.

Do you get what the director’s commentary, what God, is telling you about the action, about the significance of the events that are so matter of factly reported? Jesus is God’s long awaited long promised royal rescuer and ruler.

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