“Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed” (Luke 1:1-4).
In the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, he tells his readers he is writing to give an “orderly sequence” of Jesus’ life. Luke anchors his Gospel in verifiable historical markers because he wants us to know that the story he is telling really happened.
If Luke’s account is only a myth, it means nothing. But if it is true—if the Son of God came not only to live among us, but to die for us and rise to life and give that life to all who trust in His name—then the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace, has changed the world and our place in it.
In these days leading up to Christmas, we’ll read the detailed narrative of the Nativity according to Luke. Luke’s Gospel gives us the fullest account of the Nativity story, walking us through the people, places, and divine interventions which led to the birth of the Savior of the world. May the story of Jesus’ birth cause our celebration of Christmas to be marked by our worship of Him.
“How many times do I have to tell you?!”
I have probably said those words one bajillion times. Actually, I have three kids, so most likely I have said it thrice that amount.
Generally, it goes like this: I tell my kids to stop doing something, and they do not stop. Or I tell them something they need to do, and they refuse to do it. And I follow up with, “How many times do I have to tell you?!”
My kids, like nearly all kids throughout history, have a hard time listening to their parents and others in authority. They do not stop and think of the wisdom and experience behind the prohibitions and admonitions. And honestly, they just forget.
I know I did.
My parents were often hard to listen to. I knew they possessed wisdom about life, but I really thought that shirt with all the zippers would attract girls like bees to nectar. How they couldn’t see it was beyond me. But in the end, I was wrong. They were right. I didn’t listen, and I didn’t take into account all the times they were right before.
I knew better, but I was not believing well.
Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for a child. And they had obviously been praying a long time. Finally, God sent an angel to let them know He had answered their prayers. And what was Zechariah’s first response?
“How can this be? We are old!”
Now, I want you to keep in mind that Zechariah was a priest. He was a seminary grad. He knew the story of how God had given children to Abraham and Sarah when they were old. He knew all the stories of God’s miracles throughout the history of Israel. And…
Wait for it…
This was exactly what he, himself, prayed for!
So we have a priest of the living God, schooled in the history of the faithfulness of God to His people, who traced their own lineage back to Abraham. And yet, hearing the angel give him the same good news Abraham and Sarah received, news which he had been praying for, drew from Zechariah a response of doubt— the kind of doubt that caused the angel to make him mute till the child was born.
“How many times do I have to tell you?!”
How much faithfulness does God have to show him?
It is easy for me to look at Zechariah and think he is being ridiculous. But, the truth is, I do this all the time. I forget all the faithfulness God has shown me and my family, time and again. I lie awake at night and worry about money and my kids and work. All the while, I forget God’s goodness coupled with His power to do amazing things.
I love that this story is part of the narrative of the coming of Jesus. It points so vividly to the fixed point of our faith when doubt seems to be our raison d’etre. When I don’t believe and doubt is coursing through my veins like poison, I can look at the life and death and resurrection of Jesus, and remember His faithfulness and love for doubting sinners like me.
Written By Matthew B. Redmond