The Gospel Message in Luke's Story of the Nativity - Chapter 4
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This commentary on Luke's story of the Nativity was written by Rev. Harry Colquhoun who has generously given permission for presentation on this site. Copyright ©

Chapter 4 - The Birth of Christ: Part 1

We will approach our study of Christ from two directions. In Part 1, we will look at some of the specific details that connect the birth of Christ with the earlier births, noting both similarities and differences, and explore also the significance of particular statements Luke makes regarding the person of Jesus. In Part 2, we will then look at the life details that link the stories together, and discover how the earlier stories shed a helpful light on the life and work of Christ.

As we have seen, the birth details surrounding the birth of Jesus are similar in many respects to those surrounding the births of Isaac, Samson, and Samuel, creating a link between one story and the other and causing us to hear in the one a distinct echo of the other. The basic understanding the stories suggest is that each of these “sons of promise” (these are God-promised sons) comes to us from God and that through their respective lives God can be seen at work on behalf of his people for the ultimate good of his people. These insights apply to the common birth features the stories share. However, there are details in the birth of Christ that set this story apart from the others and give it a sense of unique importance.  

The first difference of consequence—and it is a significant one indeed—is that, in contrast to the other births, the birth of Christ is presented as a virgin birth to a young woman. This idea is traceable to the word of promise which Isaiah held out to Ahaz and Israel regarding the birth of a child-to-be who was to bear the name Immanuel, “God with us.” That promise was to find its confirmation in the birth of a child to a “young woman” (Isa. 7:14). Matthew (but not Luke) makes the specific connection between Isaiah’s prophesy and the birth of Christ (Matt. 1:18-24).

The notion or idea that the birth is to be a virgin birth gives special emphasis to the idea (strongly conveys the notion) that Jesus comes to us from God’s side; that he is wholly of God. This detail also suggests that with Christ we are dealing with something very new; something of a different order than what has gone before; a putting behind of the old; a new beginning for mankind, perhaps.

The emphasis upon “newness” is further strengthened by the fact that the process of conception is expressed in language and thought derived from the Genesis’ creation story. We note in Genesis that shape and order are given to the formless void when the Spirit of God moves over the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2). In such descriptive terms, the Spirit of God is presented as the active agent and creative principle in creation. The Genesis writer also attributes the uniqueness of man’s nature—his endowment as a self-conscious, self-reflective being—to the “in-breathing” of God (Gen. 2:7). (Significantly, the word ruach in Hebrew is the same word for breath and spirit.) The creative aspect of the Spirit is further emphasized in Ezekiel’s vision when he sees the Spirit entering into the dry bones that lie scattered on the valley floor, resurrecting them to life (Ez. 37:13,14). And so, in words that reflect the creative power and activity of the Spirit, Gabriel says to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35).

An examination of Luke’s ideas will show, as we would expect them to, given the estimated time of writing of Luke’s Gospel (about 80 A.D. +/-) that they reflect the mainstream of Christian thought regarding the Person and work of Christ. In other words, presenting the birth of Christ as a virgin birth is Luke’s way of expressing in symbolic terms what Paul and other New Testament writers express in developed theological terms and ideas. (We have already spoken of the close personal relationship between Luke and Paul.) While there are writers who have suggested that Paul knew nothing of a “virgin birth” the probability is that he did, but understood it in terms outlined above, and went on to express it in his own terms, as we shall see below.  

Paul, for example, also draws on the Genesis creation story in order to express ideas that, in this writer’s opinion, reflect the symbolic details of Luke’s nativity story.  Paul presents his ideas in the form of an analogy between Adam, whom he refers to as both the “first Adam” and the “man from the earth,” and Jesus, whom he names (in contrast) the “last Adam,” the “man from heaven” (I Cor. 15:45-47). The analogy is a very suggestive one, especially when we consider that in Genesis the creation of man takes place as a special act of creation and is of a distinctive nature; i.e., a creature made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26; Gen. 2:7). The obvious assumption is that Paul sees the birth of Christ as a new creative endeavor on God’s part, as a “second stage” creation, with the implication being that Christ, as the “second Adam,” is the seed of a new created order, the seed of the New Humanity. (It is interesting to note that in Revelation Jesus is spoken of as “The beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14). This notion is the fertile ground from which all kinds of related ideas are seen to grow in the New Testament, as we shall see later.

Interestingly, while Paul speaks of the first Adam as a “living being” (a being brought to life by the in-breathing of the Spirit of God; Genesis 2:7) Jesus, the second Adam is, in contrast, spoken of as a “life giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). In other words, Jesus, like the Spirit of God, imparts and in-breathes life. This is confirmed for us in Christ’s first post-resurrection appearance among his disciples when he “breathes” on them and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20:22) and also in John’s declaration of Jesus as the “resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25). In harmony with such sentiments, Paul can say: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive again” (1 Cor. 15:22). It also is in the light and against the background of such thought Paul can say: “If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). We find an extension of these ideas in other New Testament writings which speak of Christ as the one in and through whom all things have been created (Jhn. 1:3; Col. 1:16; Eph. 3:9).

We turn now to Luke’s designation of Jesus as the “holy Son of God” (Lk. 1:35). We should note that, as with many other titles we find in the New Testament applied to Christ, the term “Son of God” comes to us out of a background of Old Testament thought. Nathan the prophet, for example, speaks of David as God’s son (11 Sam. 7:14). The Psalmist, too, speaks of the king whom God has set on Zion (Jerusalem) as a son, begotten, by God (Ps. 2:7; Ps. 16:10. See also Ps. 89:26, 27 regarding God’s promise to David as king of Israel). Israel herself, was also spoken of as a son of God (Ex. 4:22, 23; Hos. 11:1). The significance of such statements for the Christina faith can be seen in the fact that sections from Psalms 2 and 16 were cited by the early church evangelists as scriptures that supported its teaching regarding the resurrection and Lordship of Christ (Acts 13:32); in other words, these Psalms were seen as Messianic prophesies.

 When we examine the New Testament as a whole, we can say that the term, “Son of God,” in the totality of its usage when applied to Christ bespeaks of Jesus as the “Son of God in a unique way;” in fact, in a way that describes Jesus (in the words of John) as the  “Only Son of the Father.” While other sons, therefore, either in a singular or collective sense, might have a special relationship with God, Jesus is the Son of God in a pre-eminent and totally exclusive manner. The Church in a later century (in language taken from Jn. 3:16) went on to declare Jesus to be the “Eternally begotten Son of the Father,” and to be of “one substance with the Father.” Such expressions affirm the Church’s belief in the Divinity of Christ.

Paul, however, has a unique perspective on this matter. For him the resurrection event is the decisive event which demonstrates Jesus’ Divine Sonship. “Jesus,” he says, is “designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 1:4). This is probably so for Paul in that Christ’s earthly life is seen as a time of self-emptying and self-renunciation; as a time of self-diminishment and humiliation (Phil. 2:6-9; 2 Cor. 8:9); a time of Divine weakness. “God,” says Paul, “chose what is low and despised in the world, even things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are” (1 Cor. 1: 28). In the things “low and despised” we recognize the image of the One who was “Despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief “ (Isa. 53:3), Jesus the Suffering Servant. Yet it is in and through this self-imposed weakness that the power of God is revealed. Through the humiliation of the cross the Divine victory over sin and death is achieved: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54). And it is reward for his obedience to God and sacrifice in the service of God that Jesus is raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of God and given a name above all other names (Phil. 2:5-11).

We have no way of knowing how much Paul knew of the actual details of Jesus’ days in the flesh—since the Gospels themselves were written after his death—but we can assume that through his associations with the disciples he came to learn much. But for Paul (and certainly from the larger New Testament point of view) the Christ of Christian faith, is not the pre-Easter Christ (not simply the Jesus the disciples knew during the days of his humiliation) but the Exalted Lord whom believers, through faith, come to know personally through the power of the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:9-17; Gal. 3:2, and 4:6). Hence Paul can say: “For though we have known Jesus after the flesh now know we him no more.” In such a statement, one can feel the force of Paul’s traumatic conversion experience on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-9) when, as he says, Jesus, in a “heavenly vision” appeared to him  (Acts 26:19; 1 Cor. 15: 8).

It is, as we say, in our living relationship with the resurrected Lord that we know him as the Son of God with power. While the world may have known him as the one who suffered the humiliating death of a criminal on the cross, we know him as the One who through the power of the resurrection has, in turn, disarmed and humiliated death, “making a public spectacle of it” (Col. 2:15). We know him as the exalted Lord who has “ascended far above the heavens that he might fill all things “ (Eph. 4:10); we know him as the One who has been given a name above every other name (Lord Jesus Christ) and before whose name “Every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-11); we know him as the Exalted One, who will rule “until he has put all enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:25); that is, until mankind itself has been brought out from under the heel of the curse of sin and death that came into the world through Adam  (Gen. 3:14,15; Rom. 5:12). This is the Christ of faith of the New Testament; the Son of God with power.

In summary, we can say that the details related to the birth of Christ point (by way of contrast to the other births) to the uniqueness of the person of Christ and to the mission he was to undertake as the Servant (Isa. 53:11) of God’s redemptive purpose for mankind. This will be further borne out when we come to discuss some special contrasting relationships that Luke suggests between Jesus and Samson.

These expressions in regards to the person of Christ all form part of the mystery of the Christian faith. The ideas we can say are emergent ideas in that they emerge from the realities of the Christian experience of God—from God as we have come to know him and experience Him in our lives. This is not to say that we understand the identifiable realities themselves to which our experiences point; they are essentially beyond human comprehension. Yet we name them as best we can—using symbolic notions like the virgin birth, for example to express them. In the end we can only say, as one of the earliest confessions of faith has it (speaking of Christ) “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: ‘He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up to glory’” 1 Tim. 3:16).

                Let us explore now Luke’s statement that the child to be born “will be called holy” (Lk. 1:38). The statement raises some interesting questions for us and leaves us wondering just what Luke meant by it. Some have come to see this as a statement supporting the notion of the infallible, sinless nature of Jesus; in other words, while Jesus shared, with us, all the essential qualities of a human being, his was an unspotted nature, free from the stain of sin that characterizes human nature in general. Born sinless (without the stain of sin in his nature) he lived a sinless life, untouched, untainted by the evil with which he came into contact daily—and, significantly, not even capable of being tempted by it. (One wonders what the temptation of Christ by the Evil One means if such were the case.) Yet it is an idea that has been supported, with exception, quite widely by the Christian community at large.

                Roman Catholic thought has supported the notion of Christ’s sinless nature by the notion (peculiar to its own community of faith and developed after many centuries of thought) of the “Immaculate Conception of Mary,” a notion which affirms that Mary was conceived immaculate, and so free from the guilt of original sin. As such, she was the fitting vessel ordained by God to be the “Mother of God.” Immaculate in her own conception, Mary passed on to Jesus nothing of the qualities that characterize fallen (guilt stained) human nature.  

                My own thought on the matter takes me in a different direction in regards to Luke’s statement. I tend to think of the sinlessness of Jesus in terms of the holy life which he lived; that is, a life totally dedicated to the service of God. He lived, not for himself, but for what he saw as the divinely ordained purpose for his life; he lived to fulfill the will of God. As such, he lived his life as a holy vessel, dedicated and set apart to the service of God (see below). Thus, to speak about the sinlessness of Jesus, is to say that he did not give way to the normal temptations and weaknesses that characterize human nature (self-centredness, among a catalogue of other weaknesses and failings) but maintained an unfaltering dedication of his life to the service of God and to the service of others. He loved God with heart, mind, and soul, and his neighbour as he loved himself—going so far as to offer his very life on behalf of those he called his “friends” (Jhn. 15:13) and looked upon as his sheep--those who needed his love and care—(Jhn. 10:15). Of course this sacrifice later came to be understood and seen as the universal sacrifice of Christ on behalf of humanity and as an expression of God’s love for every human being (Jhn. 3:16).  

                The idea of the holy vessel, dedicated and set apart to the service of God is an old one. It was used, for example, to refer to the vessels that were used by the priests (themselves set apart to the service of God) in their temple ministrations (Ex. 40:9-15). The vessels, ordinary vessels in themselves, were consecrated to the service of God through a particular ritual of anointing, and, as such, were then regarded, or acknowledged, as “holy vessels,” fit for and wholly consecrated to the service of God.

 The analogy of the vessel being set apart and consecrated to the service of God is a very fitting one when we apply it to the life of Christ. When we look at the underlying motivations of his life we see him as one who has set himself apart, dedicating every day, every hour, and every aspect of his life exclusively to the service of God; nothing else is allowed to claim his heart, his mind, his loyalty; he is God’s holy vessel, consecrated exclusively to the service of God—offering the kind of sacrificial service Paul urged on the Roman Christians in a service of gratitude to God for his mercies in Christ (Rom. 12:1, 2). (Please note the analogy to the O.T. sacrificial system that Paul draws on to express the level of sacrifice he has in mind.) Paul, we also note, sought to aspire to the height of dedication in his life that Christ himself fulfilled in his service to God—even to the point of  martyrdom (Phil. 3:10).              

               In our consideration of this theme, it will be helpful to us at this point to look at the baptism of Jesus. The baptism of Jesus, since it was a baptism of repentance, has always been seen as something of a mystery. Why, it is asked, would Jesus find it necessary to undergo what could be regarded as a ritual of purification? In answer to this question, one wonders if behind this act there lies the notion of the consecrated vessel. We can rightly wonder if Jesus did not see his baptism as a signal to the world of his intention to consecrate and dedicate himself to the service of God.? For Jesus, it is not a baptism of repentance, but a consecration. (Some commentators even think that this is a misplaced resurrection appearance.) A significant feature of the baptism scene is the anointing of Jesus by the Holy Spirit when he comes up out of the water. (The vessels, we note, are consecrated to the service of God through the ritual of anointing by oil. It is further to be noted that in the Christian tradition oil is seen as a symbol for the Holy Spirit. The sick, for example, were anointed by oil: James 5:14). The suggestion is, at least to this writer, that Jesus is being anointed by God himself, consecrated by the Spirit of God, and set apart to the service of God; he will be God’s holy vessel. We should carefully note what Jesus is offering here. It is, as was the case with the ritual vessels, the common vessel of human nature, the humanity he shares in common with other human beings, but consecrated and dedicated; set apart as a holy vessel to the service of God. In this way, it can be truly said, that in this act, he “fulfills all righteousness” (Matt. 13:15) meets the standards of God’s expectations for man. He provides the model of God’s expectations for us.

In connection with the above, it should be noted that individuals who performed special functions in Israel’s history were dedicated to their office through the ritual of anointing. We have noted that the priests were so dedicated to their office. This was so, too, of those who were elected to the office of Kingship. Samuel, for example, was instructed by God to dedicate Saul to the kingly office by the ritual of anointing (1 Sam. 10:1). Those kings who were so anointed were seen to come under God’s special protection (1 Sam. 26:9). For David it would have been a sin against God to have lifted his sword against Saul in that he had been anointed by God to serve as Israel’s king. In further development of this thought, when anointed to office the king was regarded as God’s messiah (he is the anointed one) and adopted as God’s son (Ps. 2: 6, 7: 2 Sam. 7: 14). In the prophetic expectations of the day (the time of Jesus) the people looked for a promised saviour/deliverer, whom the prophets of Israel spoke of as the coming Messiah (the anointed one). The anointed figure was presented as one who would be filled with God’s Spirit (Isa. 42: 1-6). And so we can say: the descent of the Spirit, resting upon Jesus, signals to the world not simply his consecration to the service of God but also confirmation of his anointing as God’s Messianic Son.

It needs to be emphasized that the picture being presented here by Luke in highly symbolic terms is the picture of how Jesus (through the eye of faith) was seen and regarded by the Christian community. It is an imaginative, interpretive vision based on a historic event in the life of Christ to which symbolic features have been added. Other interpretations of the symbolic details of the event are, of course, possible, but given Luke’s penchant for drawing on Old Testament events and ideas as a means of interpreting the Christ event, the interpretation we have proposed seems an appropriate and plausible one.  

Whatever the case may be, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan was a defining moment for him in his life, an epiphany, a moment of revelation and divine confirmation. The heavens open up for him, and he finds in the experience a sense of personal authentification. Yet, as we shall see, the battle for self-assurance was not over.

 The Gospel writers we note have nothing to say about the intervening years between his boyhood years (of which we know next to nothing—although a lot of fanciful and conjectural material has been written about it) and his baptism at approximately the age of thirty (Lk. 3:23). We could speculate a great deal about what had been going on in Jesus’ life prior to that moment when, all of a sudden, he commits himself to what he sensed was his calling and launches himself into his public ministry. But the Gospels are silent about it, and one would be skating on rather thin ice to say too much about it. What we do know is that Jesus immediately made his way into the desert to a place of social isolation where he could think through the real consequences and weigh in his mind the significance of the step he was about to take. What we see in the temptation scene is the struggle he went through as he sought to confirm in his own mind the plausibility of the grave step he was about to take.  

His isolation in the desert allowed Jesus to take the pulse on his life. And for Jesus, the very human Jesus, there were some weighty matters to consider. (There were those in his native Nazareth, for example, who thought he had taken leave of his senses. Worse yet, his family appeared to share their concern: Mk. 3:31.) As a fallible human being, he must have been tested by self-doubt. For every human being, a step into the future is a step of faith. Certainly we have reason and common sense to guide us, but reason can only take us so far. When one reaches the limits of reason, faith needs to take over—especially in matters of religion where one walks not my sight but by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). This struggle of faith is clearly demonstrated in the temptation scene. While we will not get into the details of the temptation, it will be readily seen that the whole dramatic content and significance of the various temptations revolve around the question of “if.” “If you are the Son of God [as you think yourself to be] do this…” the Evil One says. It is the temptation to doubt the validity of one’s convictions. And to doubt is to falter. Jesus proved resolute in his convictions.

The ordeal of doubt over—for a little while anyway (Lk. 4:17)--Jesus launches himself into his ministry.

                When one thinks about the life of Christ, that is, the life he lived as a human being upon this earth, one could not describe it more appropriately or beautifully than a holy life; that is, a life totally set apart and dedicated to the service of God. His basic purpose was to bring hope and comfort to people by elevating in the public mind the image of God as a God of care and compassion; to humanize the image of God as One who loved His children as a loving earthly Father would do. (He himself called God his Father, using the colloquial, common household name for the earthly male parent—a usage unique with Jesus). Jesus sought to demonstrate the measure of God’s care through the measure of care he showed for others. He lived a truly selfless life, totally dedicated to a higher purpose.

                Yet all of this means nothing unless we can affirm that Jesus was just as truly human as we are; that he shared with us a fully human nature, gifted with free will and fully capable of choice; that is, to be able to say yes and no to God. Many, it seems to me, tend to look upon the human nature of Jesus as incidental to who he was, and think of him, above all, as a divine person. His humanity is more of a convenience than anything that allows him to live on this earth, but the reality of his existence is that he is a divine person living incognito (in the guise of a man): a divine being veiled in flesh. It is a view that the writer to the Hebrews went out of his way to correct. Speaking about Christ’s relationship to us, he said: “He had to be made in all points like his brethren in every respect.” His reasoning is that without a true humanity Christ could be of no help to us. He would be outside the human condition, an alien being (even if divine) having no effective relationship to the human condition. But because he has identified himself with our humanity (taken it upon himself) he can, as a “brother” in the flesh (a fellow human being) be of help to us; he can be a true intermediary between God and man; the reconciling Agent who joins the hand of God with the hand of man. As a further consequence, he can be a true example to us: “For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (Heb. 2: 14-18). The writer to the Hebrews goes so far as to speak of Jesus being “made perfect” through his sufferings (Heb. 2:10; 5:9)—not the kind of notions we would expect to hear regarding someone we regarded as perfect in nature and obedience.

                 The implication of these observations is that Jesus could have said no to the will of God for his life and could have chosen—as he must surely have been tempted to do under the stress of conflict—a safer and more self-serving path for himself. The agony of choice that Jesus went through in Gethsemane reflects just this possibility when he found himself struggling against the desire for self-preservation and resigning himself to drinking the cup of human suffering, the terrible, unimaginable, agonizing  fate of crucifixion, in fulfillment of the will of God. Then again, we get a clear indication of the kind of temptations Jesus struggled against when he urged his listeners to guard their thoughts and maintain a close watch over their inner feelings (Matt. 5:28). Watch covetousness, Jesus, urges his audience. Keep guard over your thoughts and what you allow to enter your mind. Don’t allow things to enter the mind and the heart that will serve to extinguish the light of God within you: Matt. 6:22. Conscience will serve you well, but if you allow its light to dim it will eventually go out. It was out of experience Jesus was speaking, and it was as one who has been there and faced these temptations that he exhorts us to guard against them.

                When we, as we should, accord true humanity to Jesus, we then need to acknowledge, when thinking about the high standards of Christian living that Jesus set out for us in his preaching and teaching, that it wrong for us to think that it is unreasonable to expect that anyone could live as selflessly and sacrificially and as purely as Jesus directed we should do. The fact is, those standards have been met by someone just like ourselves. And it is because he met his own standards that he can justifiably say to us: “Come thou and follow me.” Choose the path I have chosen and you will see just what a miracle of difference it will make in your life. Do it, and you will find your true meaning and purpose in life. You will come to know, as I have found, that the first (those who want to grab everything for themselves) will find themselves to be the last, and the last (those who offer themselves in sacrificial service to God and to others) will be first. In his very real humanity, Jesus challenges us to be like himself. Jesus did not live an impossible kind of life; he lived a life that, with the help of God and through the grace of God is possible for everybody. Jesus may have set the bar high for all of us, but not at an impossible height.

                When I was a young man in college, still in the early parts of my studies, and was thinking about the humanity of Christ, I confessed to an older student that I took great comfort in the idea that Jesus had a fallible nature and was subject to the same temptations as anyone else in the human race. I could look upon him as a true example of what I should be in my service to God. It would also mean for me that Jesus and I, through our common humanity, were in close relationship to each other. If indeed he were above the ordinary temptations that beset and trouble mankind then I would have no meaningful relationship to him. At the time, I didn’t have in my arsenal the insights of the writer to the Hebrews to bolster my argument (please see above) and so could offer no effective rebuttal to his argument when he suggested that I was treading in the path of the heretical. As the reader will gather, I have seen no reason to change my mind on the subject (despite the objections of others) and take as much comfort today as I did then in the kinship I bear with Christ in the path of discipleship.

Luke’s message to us at this Christmas season is that of the One who has come to join with us in our walk through life; to be a Companion to us and guide us on our way. Through the gifts of his wisdom and the example of a faithful life, he has set out for us a map by which we may chart our course through life. He truly is for us “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” As the One filled with God’s Spirit, he is in his companionship “God with us” to guide us and support us on our way.

He has come to be in solidarity with us; to share with us in the common experiences of life; to share in the daily challenges of life: the stress and pain, \sturm und drang\ of life (especially in moments of personal loss: Jhn. 11:33-36) but also in the joys and pleasures life affords. Jesus, unlike John, was no ascetic, and was content to let John enjoy his desert fare of locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4) but he himself preferred fare of a more palatable and genial kind, with a bit of wine to aid in the digestion. It was not a life-style that the “unco guid” approved. (LK. 7:34). A religious person, the religiously zealous of his day, felt that a person of piety should not indulge in such earthly pleasures, and they adopted a more austere style of life that they felt would be more pleasing to God (Lk. 18:12). While fasting (under certain circumstances) may be good for the soul (a practice which Jesus undoubtedly from time to time practiced) he did not go out of his way to draw attention to himself as the Pharisees did to gain public approval for their piety, by making a circus out of themselves after a fast (Matt. 6:16, 17). Jesus could think of no better thing to do in the final hours before his arrest than share in a time of table fellowship and join in a time of worship and praise with the friends and companions of his journeys (LK. 22:15).

But his greatest gift to us is the surrender he made to God of his life on our behalf : “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jhn. 15:13). He went as far as any human being could go in demonstrating what was always in his heart. Yet in surrendering his life, he was speaking for God and demonstrating what he knew to be the universal love of God for every living soul (Jhn. 3:16). His is a gift offered unconditionally of forgiveness and grace. (We will have much to say about this when we turn to our reflections on the resurrection).

                The message of Luke for us at this Christmas season is that in his life and death (the very human life he lived and the death he died) Jesus truly proved to be Immanuel, “God with us.”

Introduction  |  Chapter 1  |  Chapter 2   |   Chapter 3   |  Chapter 4   |  Chapter 5   |  Chapter 6   |  Chapter 7

This commentary on Luke's story of the Nativity was written by Rev. Harry Colquhoun who has generously given permission for presentation on this site. Copyright ©