Luke 1: Getting Ready and Waiting for God's New Work

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Today's Bible Reading: Luke 1

Selected Biblical Text
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4 ESV)
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever." (Luke 1:51-55 ESV)

Thinking and Reflecting
For some, Luke is a favorite gospel. For others, it is the gospel least read. Matthew comes first and is read frequently (thinking of those who resolve each year to read through the New Testament); Mark comes second and is short (for those in a hurry); John is unique and tends to capture our attention. What about the Gospel of Luke? What is distinctive about Luke's Gospel? Where should we begin if we genuinely want to read and understand the "gospel to the Gentiles"?
God is preparing his people for a new work -- something never before seen. Reading between the lines of the introduction to the book (1:1-4), Luke says that while the things that have occurred may seem random, unexplainable, and unorganized, there is a design and purpose that can be discerned when the events are set forth in an orderly way.
The uniqueness of the birth of John the Baptist provides a beginning point for this new work of God. The announcement of the birth of Jesus confirms it. The song of Mary foreshadows the truth that God is getting ready to change the world -- to turn things upside down so that the proud are brought low, the mighty are brought down, the lowly are exalted, the hungry are filled, and the rich are emptied. The text of Luke 1:51-55, one of the first of many "reversal" texts in Luke, introduces us to the flavor of this gospel. God's plan will not be unfolded immediately, but the beginning has come. Patience! "And John the Baptist grew and became strong in spirit, waiting until his public appearance in Israel."

In our instantaneous world, we are not very good at waiting. We are always in a hurry; we seldom give God time to work. We desire instant results. Patience! God is working his work. He is at work among those who are genuinely his people; he is reaching out to include others, even those who seem beyond hope. If we limit ourselves to human resources and human means, we will struggle to see God's unfolding story in our own lives. The story told in Luke's gospel is a story of power and intrigue, a story with plots and subplots. For the next month, we are going to try to read the story anew as though we have never heard it before. Let us pray that we can see new things and ponder them. What is God doing in our world? What does God want to do in your life? Luke's gospel will bring the answer. Let us listen carefully.

Dear Heavenly Father, help me slow down in the coming days, to hear afresh the story of Jesus. Bless my efforts to hear, to marvel, to learn, and to grow. Help me as I seek to grasp what you are already doing, to hear your call for me to join you in your work, and to find my unique place. Help me that I may be a help to others. In Jesus' name and by his power I pray, Amen.

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Last updated January 2019