Luke 1:39-80; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-40
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Yesterday we began the New Testament! I'll highlight each of the 4 Gospels overviews these first 4 days, with Matthew today. Below is Northern Renaissance painter Jan Sanders van Hemessen's "Jesus Summons Matthew to Leave the Tax Office" from the year 1536:
Place: Perhaps Antioch
Date: A.D. 60-70
Content: Matthew was a tax collector, called by Jesus to follow him early in his public ministry; hence, he was an eyewitness of most of the events he describes. He begins with a detailed account of Jesus’ birth of the virgin Mary, his baptism, and temptation in the wilderness. Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, entrance into which meant eternal life. One entered by repentance and faith. Matthew blocks the teaching of Jesus together into five discourses in which may be seen the ethics, the proclamation, the parables, the fellowship, and the consummation of the kingdom. Jesus’ death and resurrection end the Gospel with the command to go into all the world with the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ.
Theme: Matthew’s main purpose in writing his Gospel is to show that Jesus fulfills the promise of God in the Old Testament. For this reason Jesus is introduced as a “descendant of King David and of Abraham,” and Matthew makes use of numerous Old Testament prophecies and quotations to explain Jesus’ life. Jesus came to be the Savior of the Jews, the Gentiles, and ultimately the world. The ethics required by members of God’s kingdom are found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) where the world’s values are rejected and the Kingdom of God and his righteousness become supreme. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 21) A wonderful commentary on the book of Matthew by Daniel Wallace is at this link. Below is a painting (I absolutely love this painting!) titled "The Inspiration of St. Matthew" by the Baroque Italian artist Caravaggio, circa 1602:
Matthew chapter 1 verse 23 is certainly a huge prophecy from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah being fulfilled through the birth of Jesus: "Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us)." Jesus is God and came to literally be with us. To experience our human sufferings and temptations - and joys and triumphs. The importance of this birth of Immanuel cannot be overstated. God came to be with us in flesh and blood.
In Luke chapter 1 verses 46 through 55 we read an amazing hymn known as Mary’s Song or the Magnificat, which means “glorifies” in the Latin Vulgate translation. This is indeed a song from the mother of Jesus that glorifies God in a beautiful way. As you read through this song, below, please meditate upon its words. And maybe ask yourself this – are there ways in your life that you “sing songs” like this to God? Maybe it’s not through literal song – but maybe you praise God through loving others, through serving others, through art, through prayer, through your church, and this list could go on… What is your unique way of glorifying God? Do you want to glorify God with all you do in your life? Please take a few moments to mediate upon the glorious words of Mary’s Song:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me–
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”
Bible.org's commentary on Luke chapter 1 titled "The Worship of Two Women" is at this link.
I love Zechariah's prophecy in today's readings in Luke chapter 1! In particular verses 76-79 when speaking about his son John the Baptist: "And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God's tender mercy, the light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace."" Amen! Below is Leonardo Da Vinci's portrait of John the Baptist from the year 1516:
Bible.org's commentary on our readings in Luke today titled "Why John Was Not Named 'Little Zach'" is at this link.
Okay, any fans out there of Charlie Brown's Christmas Special recognize anything here from Luke chapter 2?? :) Yes, indeed, Linus' speech to Charlie Brown about the meaning of Christmas comes straight from the KJV of this chapter, Luke 2:8-14. Great speech Linus!
One thing that seems to be standing out to me quite a bit in reading Luke this year is how much Luke writes about Mary. I like how Luke gives us a little bit more of a glimpse of the mother of Jesus in his Gospel. We saw this obviously in our readings 2 days ago about the Magnificat. And then today we read about Mary listening to the shepherds' words in verse 19: "Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often." And then in verses 34 & 35 today we read: "Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, "This child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul."" This last sentence of Simeon's seems to be the first glimpse of Jesus' suffering and death that will come later in his life.... Here's a nice image of Simeon holding Jesus:
YouTube - Based on my reference above to Linus telling Charlie Brown about the true meaning of Christmas in Luke Chapter 2, here's the clip:
Do you know the true meaning of Christmas? Click here for your Christmas today!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19 NIV
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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