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The Birth of John the Baptist

John the Baptist - Birth

from Google Images

John the Baptist was one of the seven people God named before they were born.[1] He was six months older than Jesus, because Elizabeth was pregnant with him in her sixth month when Mary conceived. John would later be killed by Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, because John had been critical of him for marrying Herodias, his brother’s (Herod Philip’s) wife. Jesus said there was no greater prophet than John the Baptist, yet only Luke mentions the details surrounding his birth. Josephus tells us that about eight years after John’s death: Antipas was at war with King Aretas, his former father-in-law, whose daughter Herod had divorced in order to marry Herodias. Antipas lost that war taking heavy casualties and losing his authority and presence in key areas where his land bordered that of King Aretas. The Jewish people were convinced Herod’s defeat was punishment from God for killing John the Baptist. What can we know of John? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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The Magnificat

Magnificat -1

from Google Images

Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1:46-55 has been called The Magnificat for centuries. The title comes from the opening word of the Vulgate’s[1] hymn of praise at this point in Luke’s Gospel. Did Mary compose these words immediately and extemporaneously after Elizabeth’s greeting (Luke 1:41-45)? It is possible, I suppose, but Mary was a reflective person (Luke 2:19, 51). She may have composed part of it immediately and the rest later (or the whole), in the three months she stayed with and served Elizabeth. We simply don’t know for certain, but it is a beautiful hymn, which testifies of Mary’s reflective nature and her own knowledge of the Scriptures. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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When Mary Greeted Elizabeth

Mary and Elizabeth

from Google Images

Why would Luke highlight the meeting between Mary and pregnant Elizabeth? He could have simply stated that Mary hurriedly visited and stayed with Elizabeth for about three months. Yet, he does not. He considers their meeting important enough to use up precious space in his narrative (a scroll[1]) to record their meeting and greeting one another. What does all this mean for believers both in the first century AD and today? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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Mary’s Journey to the Hills of Judea

Chanukah

from Google Images

Luke tells us that Mary made haste to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39). Therefore, she didn’t wait around in Nazareth unnecessarily, but journeyed to Judea at the earliest opportunity. She was anxious to see Elizabeth and prove the angel’s words one way or another. The problem is that a young girl wouldn’t make such a journey alone. It would be assumed by all in first century culture that respectable women never traveled alone. Luke presents Mary’s safe visit to Elizabeth and her safe return home by assuming a Jewish context of safety. That is, he implies the use of the Jewish annual festivals and of Mary’s using pilgrimages with friends and relatives to journey to and from Judea. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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The Lord Coming in Flesh

god-is-with-us

from Google Images

The first persecution of the Church that ended in death concerned how we understand God’s Presence in the world. In Acts 7 Stephen was killed by overly zealous Jews who could not tolerate the idea that God never intended us to understand his Presence locked into a fixed location – i.e. the Temple at Jerusalem. Rather he revealed himself to us as a mobile God who could be in Mesopotamia to call Abraham, in Egypt to call Moses or anywhere else in the world. Such an idea was completely foreign to rabbinical thought, but, once revealed, it couldn’t be expunged from a valid understanding. The New Testament theology of God’s Presence within man and traveling with him, wherever he goes, has its context in the Wilderness years of Israel’s history. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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Gabriel’s Greeting to Mary

Mary -1

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Many folks will say, and I agree, that one could read a particular Scripture many times, yet, in reading it once more we would find something we never saw before. This is no less true even now, as I consider Gabriel’s greeting to a young maiden in Nazareth to announce what we call the Virgin Birth. Luke tells us that in the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:24, 26, 36) the angel, Gabriel (Luke 1:26-28; cf. verses 11 & 19), came to visit a young maiden named Mary. She was engaged to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David, and she was a virgin (Luke 1:27). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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Why Did Elizabeth Hide?

Shame

from Google Images

The Gospel of Luke is the longest of the four Gospel narratives, but we need to remember that when it was first written it was a scroll. The information one could put on a scroll was limited. Although authors today are able to write large volumes having 600 or more pages, it wasn’t like this in the 1st century AD. By comparison the Gospel of Luke, the longest Gospel narrative, is less than 100 pages by today’s standards. Space was a premium! Luke had to limit himself to what was important to say and not be carried away in digression, concerning unnecessary events. Why, therefore, does he believe the fact that Elizabeth hid herself for five months is important? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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