First century Ephesus was a commercial, religious, and cultural powerhouse, but its man-centered nature made it a place of great exploitation, idolatry, and debauchery. To His beleaguered church in Ephesus, God sent word of His amazing grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the Son whom He loves, He was establishing, uniting, and transforming His people- a work that He continues to this day!
Luke’s gospel gives us a particular portrait of Christ. Why did Luke write it? How did he get his information? How trustworthy is his account? How can we benefit from his approach? These are the questions we’ll be exploring in Luke’s prologue to his gospel.
God knows the struggles we face in this life. The afflictions, the concerns, the sorrows. We often find ourselves besieged from without and disheartened from within. But just when we’re at our lowest point God gives us what we most need: A renewed vision of Himself! As the apostle John discovered, nothing is more glorious or soul-restoring than a glimpse of the power, beauty, and perfection of our Triune God. The One who reigns on high rules over all creation and refreshes the souls of those who look to Him for grace.
“Epiphany” is a word used to describe a life-changing realization that has just dawned on you. In the Church calendar, it’s used to describe the life-changing revelation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, as seen in His appearing to the wise men. Celebrated twelve days after Christmas, Epiphany is great opportunity to take stock of where we stand before the King of glory. Are we seeking Him? Are we trying to use Him for our own purposes? Are we worshipping Him? True joy is found in giving our lives to the One who first gave His life for us.
Jesus uses a couple of parables to teach us important lessons about prayer, specifically that we should be persistent and insistent in our prayer life. And while these approaches may be counter-intuitive, the Lord wants us to engraft them into our regular prayer life.
One of the most amazing things about Jesus’ final encounter with Peter is that He not only forgave his betrayal, but restored him to a position of leadership. Christ’s love is so deep that it that it not only saves us, but restores us to the places God intended for us from the beginning. Part of the good news of Advent is that there is no life so lost or broken that it cannot be restored by the love of Christ through His work on the cross.
Jesus was not known for aggressive behavior, but following His triumphal entry He zealously drove merchants out of the temple area, overturned the tables of the moneychangers, and barred people from carrying merchandise through the temple courts. What would ignite such a response from our Savior? Nothing short of love for the lost, whose access to the atoning grace of God was being blocked by commercial interests. Our Lord’s first advent was marked by a passion to reach the lost; a passion He imparts to us as we await His second glorious advent.
In Jesus’ day lepers were helpless, isolated, and hopeless. They faced shame, rejection, and ultimately death. Yet at the hand of Jesus they found cleansing and life. We, too, have a terminal disease far worse than leprosy called sin. Yet at the hand of Jesus we find cleansing and life through the Savior whose compassion on the cross knew no limit.
Matthew Levi’s dream job had become a nightmare. He had gotten rich, but at the expense of becoming an outcast from his own people. Worst of all, there was no way out. He was trapped in the snare his own hands had created. But into his world of merited misery came the unmerited love of Jesus Christ. The One who was born to die showed undeserved grace to a sinner in desperate need. Praise be to God, He continues to do so today!
As we move into the Advent season, we’ll look at Luke’s account of the heavenly host that appeared at Christ’s birth. The angel’s proclamation that the Messiah has been born presented the shepherds with the paradoxical picture of a conquering king who is a mere baby. This divine paradox of the victorious Christ, the Lamb of God, was first revealed partially in Genesis, and is finally revealed explicitly in Revelation, where Jesus is portrayed in all of His glory as the victorious Lion.