Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Luke's Heart-Burden in Telling the Story of the Birth of Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Joyous thanks for the birth of Jesus that fills our minds and hearts 365 days a year--not just in the weeks following Thanksgiving. If that Story of stories thrills your soul, you will be wearied by the extreme materialism that permeates our atmosphere this time of year. One wonders, Is Jesus wearied by it? How does He feel talking to the children who sit on Santa's lap? What could He say if He met them in the shopping mall?

Have you ever wondered why Luke surpasses Matthew, Mark, and John in telling the most detailed stories of His birth? Those three were Jewish writers; Luke was a Gentile. He was writing for us, presenting Jesus in a light especially appealing to us "outsiders."

Luke alone tells of the angel's message to the world, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." He alone tells of the lowliness of Jesus' birth in a cattle-shed--a priceless encouragement to all of us who live in humble places. Luke alone tells of the Baby being wrapped in "swaddling clothes," possibly the rags Mary was able to scrounge at the last moment. Luke alone tells us several times that Mary was a quiet, shy, maybe retiring sort of lady who was good at keeping still (2:19, 51).

Luke must have gone his Gentile way as a "reporter" from outside and interviewed Mary after Christ's resurrection. He had what we would call a "scoop." He tells us of her strange "lowly state" (tapeinosis, Greek; 1:48). He leaves us wondering what it was, why she felt drawn so closely to the broken-hearted Hannah of 1 Samuel 1. Mary's poem of praise and thanksgiving (after Gabriel's visit) is patterned after Hannah's praise poem (2:1-10). The two had something in common! Only Luke lets us see this priceless gem.

Luke's heart-burden is to reveal Jesus to us as One so close to us that no one else, not even family or spouse can be closer. Almost everything this season will try to entice you away from Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 15, 2003.
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