Welcome to day seventeen in the reading of the New Testament, and thank you for joining me on this journey. Today’s reading is Luke 1-3.
There are two things that strike me in these first three chapters, and I can’t escape either.
One, is the overwhelming presence of the spirit of God, and the movement of angels.
The other is the inclusion of four songs in this narrative.
So Luke begins his story bathed in the presence of the divine, and the response of those who have these experiences, and all of this is wrapped around the story of the birth of Jesus.
Luke begins a story, which most believe is the first of two parts of a much longer story, continued with the New Testament book the Acts of the Apostles. And he begins it with how people are suddenly involved in a global and historical and universal plan to save the world.
That is no small moment, for a lowly priest like Zechariah, or an unwed girl like Mary, or the midnight shepherds, or an anticipating Simeon. They are, to me, the four points around this amazing story.
Zechariah, when offered a glimpse into this divine plan, and told by an angel of the Lord that the spirit of God would fill the life of his yet-to-be-born son, though, could only respond with unbelief (1:18). Later, after the birth of John, Zechariah begins his song, and Luke records it as the second song in his gospel. His song gives us several reasons for praising God.
Mary, when offered a glimpse into this divine plan, and told by Gabriel she would conceive a son with the power of the spirit of God, she accepts it and declares herself to be a servant of God (1:38-40). She then composes a song, detailing the awesomeness of God.
The shepherds, upon hearing the song of the angelic host, first wait, and have a conversation about their experience (2:15). Only then, with they all confer that God’s voice was spoken through these angels, they leave in a hurry (2:16).
Simeon, whose life was filled by the spirit of God, and then moved by that spirit to be in the temple at the very moment Jesus would be presented, instantly believed. His experience is the pinnacle of these responses: he actually cradles Jesus in his arms. And he fully believed, in that moment, that he was holding the Christ (2:28). And then he begins a song.
So, four appearances by the divine. Four songs. Four responses.
We find ourselves among these responses.
Some of us are in complete disbelief, when God presents his plan to us. Just like Zechariah.
Some of us are humble in these presented plans. Just like Mary.
Some of us have to talk it out. Process it. Just like the shepherds.
Some of us anticipate God’s direction. Just like Simeon.
Which, for me, makes me think of my own response to God.
Because, really, God’s spirit is active. It is his holy breath in our lives, moving us, counseling us, guiding us. God manifests himself in our lives with his creative and protective ability. But how often do we really consider those movements?
Thanks for reading. You can find all the posts through these ninety days here.