How could the greatest Preacher of all time, preaching the most needed sermon, to His own people, from the Holy Scriptures, be not only rejected but threatened with death? The sin of our hearts runs deeper than we imagine. When exposed, it often lashes out. Simeon foretold that Jesus was “destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against” and we see his words begin to come true in Jesus’ hometown. But how will we respond to Jesus? Will we trust His lordship and receive His grace, or will we demand that He meet our expectations, to our great peril?
We often think of Jesus’ wilderness temptation as merely passive, but the Scripture says it was a God-initiated assault into enemy territory. Our Lord took His first step to seek and save the lost by drawing out our chief enemy and forcing his decisive retreat. Trusting in ourselves, there is no way we can stand against the devil’s remaining attacks. But trusting in our victorious Savior, there is no way we can fall.
Like a skilled lawyer, Luke has been building a case that Jesus is the beloved Son of God and promised Savior of sinners. At the end of chapter 3 he presents his most compelling evidence that Jesus is the Messiah: the voice of God Himself. We find that Jesus’ authority is rooted in His identity, which is confirmed in surety, so that we might grow in purity as we look to Him in faith.
It had been over 400 years since a prophet had arisen in Israel. Great expectations had given way to routine resignation as the final words of Malachi remained unfulfilled. But then God sent John the Baptist to announce that the Messiah had finally arrived. John’s mission was to proclaim a message of repentance that would prepare people for his Master - the Savior who comes to us today through the pages of Scripture that we might be baptized with his Holy Spirit and live for his glory.
Child prodigies who are gifted in music, math, or athletics are often identified very young, but none are identified at birth. When Jesus was born, the host of heaven and multiple prophets proclaimed that He was no ordinary child, but the promised Savior and Redeemer sent by God. Through the testimony of Scripture, we, too, stand in awe of the One who was Lord at His birth and who both saves and sends us by His grace.
There were a variety of responses to the announcement of Jesus’ birth. King Herod responded with murderous rage. Priest Zachariah responded with skeptical doubt. Joseph responded with thoughts of divorce. But a poor, teenage girl from Nazareth responded with faithful submission. When presented with the Word of the Lord, she obediently reflected her Savior who would later say, “Thy will be done” supremely on the cross. Luke reminds us that the birth of our Lord calls us to not only rejoice, but to submit our lives to the One who first gave His life for us.
Most people come and go without notice. Really important people have a herald announce them a minute before they arrive. As the time came for Jesus to be born, God sent a mighty angel from heaven, to the center of His temple, over a year in advance, to announce the birth of the one who would announce the ministry of the Lord Jesus. What a great King Luke prepares us for! And Jesus is the King who not only proclaims His salvation to us, but who calls us to be His heralds to the nations.
Whether you are a believer, a skeptic, or are still deciding, doubt affects us all. Is Jesus really who He said He was? Did He really do all those miracles? Is He truly the only way to God? By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke wrote a detailed, orderly, historical account so that we might know the certain truth about Jesus Christ. He is the seeking Savior who sacrificed Himself so that in Him we might stand firm in shaky times.
Christianity stands or falls on the reality of Christ’s resurrection. Whether you are a skeptic, a believer, or a person who struggles to believe, the evidence of Luke 24 demands the verdict that Jesus is alive and able to grant eternal life to everyone who appeals to him for grace.
Waiting can be hard, especially in difficult circumstances. The prophetess Anna was suffering catastrophic loss yet waited patiently for the Messiah for the better part of a century. What was her secret? Join us as we examine God’s word to see how believers today can wait well through life’s hardships while anticipating the glorious return of our Savior, Jesus Christ.