If you follow me at all in life then you know I consider myself something of an Old Testament connoisseur. I spent the better part of a year doing nothing but deeply studying and reading the OT and I enjoyed every second of it (except maybe Isaiah, that book was a real struggle for me at times). After spending that much time in the first half of the good book, it’s been a lot of fun to bring that study style I’ve developed to the New Testament and see if what I can learn here. I started with Luke because of the four gospels it’s the one I am least familiar with.
The thing that I immediately love about the book of Luke is learning his motivation for writing it. If you do some study, you find that not only is Luke referred to as a doctor/physician, but that he’s also admired for his historian style approach to the writing of this gospel. He lays out his motivation early in the book as he addresses his comments to Theophilus.
Luke 1:4 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
I love that motivation. He wants people to have a certainty that what they were taught is really true. I find that to be a key component in the true awakening of every Christian, a moment when it goes from being stories you’ve heard to a truth that you can be certain of. When it goes from being Sunday school to real life, your parent’s religion to your own. I find Luke’s motivation inspiring. I want to mirror it. I want to be someone who can help deliver certainty to people that this Jesus who sometimes sounds too good to be true and sounds so far out of reach is actually very real and very much attainable.
Of all the things that I expected to find in the book of Luke, I wasn’t expecting for it to open with a mission statement for my entire life. But here it is, revealing once again that if you open yourself up to studying it, the Bible will continually deliver to you revelation and blessing far beyond what you expect.
The first historical event that Luke writes about is the conception of John the Baptist. There was an old priest named Zechariah. He had no children because his wife was unable to conceive and also because they were both old. An angel of the Lord appears to Zechariah while he’s on duty in the temple, and after the initial shock of seeing this mighty, fearsome angel wears off, he learns that the angel has a message for him. Zechariah and his wife are going to have a son (John the Baptist). Let’s look at how Zechariah takes this particular news.
Luke 1:18-20 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” 19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
There’s such a powerful lesson in this moment and I think it’s this. Be careful when you ask God “how”. Zechariah and his wife have probably wished for a baby for a long time, I think it’s almost a guarantee that they’ve prayed for it more than a few times, and now that God is saying He’s going to answer their prayer Zechariah busts out with “how”. I get the human inclination to question things that sound impossible, but that questioning doesn’t always seem to sit so well with God. Read the end of Job for more insight into how God feels about being questioned. He’s God, so if He’s saying that something is going to happen or that you’re going to do something, the best course of action is to humbly accept what you’re being told and to remember that He’s got the power to make anything happen. The history of time is filled with moments when God took an incapable person and used them to accomplish an impossible task. He loves it! This is where His glory comes from. When a weak man leads a tiny army against a massive army and wins, God gets the glory. When an old man and his old, barren wife have an anointed baby, God gets the glory.
A huge factor in how your “how” to God gets received is motive. Why do you feel the need to ask God how? Was it necessary for Zechariah to ask how? Let’s be adults for a moment, surely he already understood where babies come from. Further instructions from God weren’t needed for this particular miracle to come to pass. All that was needed here was trust. I feel like there are times when there’s a level of disrespect in asking God how something is going to go down. Asking how can show a lack of trust, or at the very least an acknowledgment that you don’t fully know who He is. Zechariah’s “how” appears to be born out of doubt, which is why it’s met with the reaction that it is.
I can imagine that if God appeared to me and said “You’re going to be the pastor of a large church in northern canada by the end of next week” my very first natural desire would be to ask “How exactly is that gonna happen, God?” BUT, my hope is that I’d be able to choke that reaction down and instead respond with something like “Lord, you are all powerful and nothing is impossible for you, so if you say that’s what is going to happen then I trust you and I await your guidance.” Easier said than done? Absolutely. Important anyways? You bet. Trusting God and trusting in His infinite power is part of how we show our respect for Him. Questioning the mechanics of how a miracle is going to work just seems like bad manners, and in the case of Zechariah, it bought him nine months of silence.
That’s gonna wrap up day one of this journey through the book of Luke. I have no clue how long this series is going to last. I found A LOT of stuff that I loved as I studied this book, so we may be here for a while. Some days may feel a little random as I jump around but there’s so much to love and dig into here. I hope you’ll stick with me and come along for the ride.
I love all of you and I hope that your week is off to a great start. If you have any prayer requests or would just like to talk about faith or God or whatever, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as soon as I can.