There are a few unique things in this book which has as it main idea that all humans are sinners and in need of salvation. Throughout his gospel as you read you see what God can do in human life, this having made a deep impression on Luke. We also note that among the four synoptic Gospels it is the only one to give an account of the Ascension and add to that it is here, only here, among the notable parables you will find The Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Very little is known of Jesus’ childhood but in Luke chapter 2: 41-51 we find a short entry that occurred when he was about 12 years of age. In Luke chapter 2: 8-20 there are a few things, speculation if you wish but very much reasonable as we go beyond the word. “Do not be afraid…” to the shepherds gathered in this field that was a hard thing not to do. Angels in the sky and a heavenly host, praising God and announcing the birth of one referred to as the Savior; a Savior to all! William Barclay wrote a beautiful observation to this event… “IT is a wonderful thing that the story should tell us, that the first announcement of God came to some shepherds.”
These shepherds had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. It would be a grueling journey. It is worth a second look at these shepherds and adding a little more information about them. Going beyond the words we find that shepherds of that day were despised by many of the orthodox people of the day. Because of the nature of their job they were unable to keep the details of the ceremonial law; they could not observe all the meticulous hand washings and rules and regulations. It was to these simple men, on that cold dark field that God’s message came to first but if we go a little further there is something else to consider. In most likelihood these were special shepherds, tending a special flock. Every morning and evening an unblemished lamb was offered as a sacrifice to God. The Temple authorities had their own supply chain, simple but effective…they had their own private flocks; and we know they were pastured near Bethlehem. What these shepherds found was not a place one would have thought to find a king. Over the years the place of the birth has been described in many ways. The most common would be a barn which provided shelter and was divided into stalls and contained a manger which was no more than a container for food being fed to the animals. In reality it was very crude and simple, a trough if you will. Here they placed the child wrapped in various cloths…again from DBS…
“It is a lovely thought that the shepherds who looked after the Temple lambs were the first to see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
We are all familiar with the Nativity of Jesus scene which usually includes the Holy Family, the angels, the Magi, the ox and the donkey, and an assortment of shepherds, villagers, servants and others.
In chapter 2:41-52 there is an interesting story Which in a way is an early revelation and if we read the words carefully, we could say It is an early revelation of the divinity of Jesus. Mary and Joseph had gone to the Festival of The Passover as was their habit every year. When the festival was over and they started home they were unaware that the Jesus had remained there in Jerusalem. They believed that he was in the group of travelers and after a day’s travel they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. Not finding him there they returned to Jerusalem and after three days they found him in the Temple among the teachers and asking questions. Mary, unhappy with what he had done and the anxiety it had caused for her and Joseph questioned his actions.
Then in his reply is an astonishing revelation. From Luke 2:49-51
49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[m] 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart…NRNRSV
Next week we will return to these verses and continue our journey behind the words written there. We remain in chapter 2 of Luke looking closer at verses 25-35 and verses 49-51.
Life is Good