Luke shares with us what he believes are the essential details about Jesus, the Messiah. He is one of the few to articulate what his purpose in writing is: “So that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.”
Then we bounce over to the third chapter, where we hear the proclamation of John the Baptist. With excruciating detail, Luke lets us in on the secret of who’s who and what’s what. It is almost as if he is trying to prove that this is historical, rooting it in names and places. It is if he is saying, “Who could make this up?”
I find it interesting he wrote this for folks who had already been instructed in the faith. It is as if the gospel text was pulled out after years of following Christ. “Here, read this if you want to know even more.” That is oral tradition at its best!
I wonder what people knew. What had they seen and heard? What is the essential truth to know about Jesus?
“Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” Perhaps this is the heart of the Christian message.
If you have taken the Disciple I Bible study, you may remember how it starts. It begins with a good hearty talk about the authority of scripture in our lives, and some of the different types of biblical literature and its purposes. In it, we encounter John’s purpose: So that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah. So many of the New Testament writers are wrestling with this very concept, and certainly Luke is wrestling with and responding to these questions as well: Where do the Jews fit in this? How do Judaism and Christianity co-exist?
At the end of the day, Luke may say he is focused on details and getting it right, but in the mean time he proclaims a lot of good news! From John the Baptist we hear terrifying words that reassure the faithful – God is coming, and when he does, ALL flesh shall see the salvation of God.
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Well, my friends, the radical good news has come to a street corner near you!
Oh, there will be decisions to be made. And his story all but implies that soon you too will meet up with the Savior of the world – this Jesus. When you do meet him, be filled with the promise that even tax collectors and sinners got a second chance…and so do you.