Monday, December 8, 2008

In Galilee: the year of the Lord’s Favour (Luke 3:1-9:50)

Last week we read about how God had begun his great work of salvation. After a long wait, He has come to his people to comfort and restore them, to forgive their sins and to bring in His kingdom; salvation not only for his people, but for Gentiles too. All this began in the birth of two small babes, the one who would herald these things and the one who would accomplish them- the one who was the Christ, the Saviour, the Son of God. This week we see these babes grown and their work begin. The year of the Lord’s favour has arrived.

The historical detail Luke records at the start of chapter three grounds the momentous events which follow in history; real time, real people and real places. They take place in Galilee,during the reign of Tiberias Caesar. This detail is not only significant for its historical value, but it also reminds us that God’s people are waiting to be redeemed, waiting for their own King who would save them from this foreign rule, a King who would restore the Kingdom to Israel and show that God had finally forgiven their sins. Not surprisingly, therefore, these chapters of Luke address the question of whether Jesus is that very King.

Throughout these chapters we read of Jesus travelling around Galilee proclaiming the Kingdom of God (e.g. 4:43) and performing miracles. He heals the sick (e.g. 4:40) and the lame (e.g. 5:22-25), he casts out demons (e.g. 4:33-35, 41), raises the dead (e.g. 7:11-15) and proclaims forgiveness of sins (e.g. 5:20). He teaches with authority (e.g. 4:36). People flock to see, to hear and to be healed (e.g. 6:17-19). They crowd around him (e.g. 5:1) and are amazed by him (e.g. 4:36, 5:26).

Luke shows that all this happens in fulfilment of what was written (Luke 4:21); drawing particularly and deliberately from Isaiah 61:1-2 (other Old Testament passages to keep in mind are Psalm 2:1-7; Isaiah 35:5-6; 42:1-7;Daniel 7:13-14). The miracles and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God occur in fulfilment of what had been promised, showing us both who Jesus is and what he came to do.

There are two questions I want us to focus on this week;

Who is Jesus?

What did he come to do?

As we work out who he is, this will tell us what he will do. As we see what he does, this will tell us who he is. As you read, think about what the prophecies had said, think about what he says about himself and about what he does, and think about what others say about him.

Other questions to think about as you read.

· What is God doing through Jesus here?

· What does it tell me about the Kingdom of God?

· How do people respond to him? How do I respond to him?

Recommended Daily Readings

· 3:1-4:30 Beginnings (also read Psalm 2:1-7; Isaiah 42:1-7)

· 4:31-5:26 Miracles (also read Isaiah 35:5-6)

· 5:17-6:11 Questions

· 6:12-49 Teaching

· 7:1-50 Is he the One?

· 8:1-9:6 Hear and Obey the Word

· 9:7-50 Who is this? (also read Daniel 7:13-14)

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