Some people miss the forest for the trees. In yesterday’s post, focusing on a single verse about one of the few all-nighters Jesus pulled in all his roughly twelve thousand nights spent on earth, I neglected to cover any of the rest of Luke 6. Thus, in an effort to obtain a broader view of the chapter, today we will be considering a single, different tree.
The Sermon on the Plateau, which bears some similarities to the better-known Sermon on the Mount, makes up the bulk of this chapter, but there’s also some fuss about Jesus and his disciples’ Sabbath activities, plus Jesus selecting the twelve apostles. But one little verse stood out to me today: just a few words whose significance you might breeze right past if you didn’t stop to think about what they actually say.
I guess I could continue the Nativity Story thing and tackle John 1 for this post, but I already read Luke 5 and ate the chocolate. I ended Christmas, everyone. Sorry. There’s nothing for it but to keep moving forward.
Christmas is over. And in Matthew’s account, Jesus may have already been born, but the Christmas story continues even after his birth. Today’s chapter covers the visit from the magi, Herod’s plan to kill the recently-born Messiah, and Joseph’s escape to Egypt with his family.
Merry Christmas, Chocolate Book fam. Today we turn to the first chapter of Matthew, which is mostly genealogy. The eight remaining verses are mostly about Joseph, which is after a fashion to be expected, considering that some scholars think the genealogy in Matthew presents Joseph’s family tree, in contrast to Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ lineage via Mary. Comparing the two genealogies can be an interesting exercise, but there’s little to be gained by me recapitulating the points and counterpoints of those who’ve already done their research. You’ve got the internet; you can dig as deep as you please. Meanwhile, over here we’re gonna look at what Matthew has to say about the virgin birth.
As Jesus Christ begins his ministry in his hometown of Nazareth, he’s about as popular as John the Baptist. Initially they’re amazed at the authority with which he speaks and comports himself, but their attitude sours as he continues to preach. Eventually they run him out of town, and he leaves for Capernaum. But what invoked the wrath of the masses? Let’s take a look.
If the gospel of Luke were a comic book, you’d read the story of twelve-year-old Jesus getting lost in Jerusalem, you’d turn the page, and you’d see a huge establishing shot of the wilderness with John the Baptist. The narrative box would read, “Twenty years later…”, there’d be a bunch of John-the-Baptist stuff, and you wouldn’t see Jesus again for like six pages. I’d love to see how Cartoonist Luke would illustrate the genealogy that concludes the chapter, but the point remains: in the early chapters, Luke’s book about Jesus features Jesus less prominently than you might expect.
There are roughly seven or eight bases in this chapter. It makes for a very weird game of baseball.
One of the many things going on in this chapter is the bit where an angel (I’m guessing not Gabriel, otherwise Luke would have identified it as Gabriel) announces Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. I wanted to zero in on the angel’s announcement. He says, “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (10-11). When Gabriel foretold the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias, he didn’t even explicitly mention the Messiah, and when he visited Mary, his tone was overwhelmingly that of a messenger proclaiming the coming of a king. The emphasis was overwhelmingly on Jesus’ reign.
We’ve just finished a trip through the minor prophets, and it’s the Christmas season. You hardly have to guess where we’re going next. It’s time to break that 400-year silence between testaments and crack open the gospel accounts of the birth of Christ. We’re going to hit Luke and Matthew’s accounts, and we may hit Mark and John as well, even though they don’t directly report Jesus’ birth. After that, we may take a look at thankfulness in the gospels, and probably segue right into the rest of Luke. There’s gonna be a little bit of playing it by ear, but it starts with Luke 1.