Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 2 Message Outlines
Luke 2:1-7 (6)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6 January 23, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(127)Thesis:To be involved in the Master's Plan in a beneficial way, we must adopt Mary's attitude toward Jesus.
Introduction:The world we live in operates in a rather consistent program of death. The most basic principle of that death is the imposition of "my" agenda upon all others. The attempted imposition of "my" agenda upon others arises out of both an enormously corrupt value system and an equally corrupt belief system that I have so whitewashed as to be totally blind to the maggots that feed there. In fact, the world has gotten the issues so mixed up that it rebels mightily against a God Who stands for an inalterably healthy "agenda" with accusations of His enormous wickedness for "imposing His agenda upon us" while never answering the question of the cause of the rebellion. There is only one cause: the desire to impose an alternative agenda. And, just as there is only one cause for rebellion, there is only one solution to it. That solution is unveiled by Luke in 2:6-7.
I. Evidences of Tampering.
A. The typical "Christmas Story" as it "generates so-called facts".
1. Would it shock you if I told you Joseph and Mary rode a matched pair of very spirited, magnificently developed, white horses from Nazareth to Bethlehem?
2. Would you be surprised if I told you that they arrived in Bethlehem in mid-morning?
3. How would you react if I said that they had been living where she gave birth for a week to ten days?
4. Would it put you off to find out that there was no "halo" around either of the heads of Mary or Jesus?
5. How would you react to discover that there were no animals in the place where she gave birth?
6. Are you aware that every word of God has the ability to give life and that any kind of corruption of those words at least has the potential to take it away?
B. The typical "Christian" approach to the text.
1. As it is, the "typical" Christian approach to the text is to not approach it.
2. And, of those who do approach it, the "typical" attitude seems to be "Oh, I see what He is saying and, of course, I've known that most of my life".
a. The fact is that we do not take seriously the statement of God that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts -- otherwise we would be spending at least some effort to see if what we think He is saying is, in fact, what He is saying and we would be very circumspect about our "doings" because the probability is that if He were here, He would NOT be doing what we do.
b. Another fact is that we have never deliberately jettisoned the lusts of this world.
1) Is it fundamental to your thinking that "I will NOT do anything to promote Me"?
2) Is it fundamental to your thinking that "I will NOT insist that others bow to any of my wishes that only serve to make me the "god" and them the "servants of the god"?
3) Is it fundamental to your thinking that "I will NOT pamper my body at its own expense, or the expense of God's plan"?
II. Indications of a Solution.
A. Luke's overall message: it was into a "typical" world that Jesus came.
1. He knew when He came that there would only be an untypical few who would ever see what He was about and actually want to be a part of it.
2. He knew when He came that the "typical" world would murder Him and brutalize any who dared to follow His Truth.
3. But He also knew that for the atypical few, there was LIFE indeed; so He came for the few.
B. Luke's particular word choices in the birth narrative.
1. In Luke 2:6-7, there are 36 actual words; 10 of them are definite articles or connectives; 6 more of them are pronouns; 4 of them are the equivalent of our word "in"; and of the remaining 16, 11 are what we could call "significant"; and of those 11, 4 of the more significant ones are used less than 6 times in the entire New Testament.
2. By highlighting Luke's choice of words, we can learn a major lesson.
a. The first such word is translated "she wrapped Him in cloths".
1) This probably would be unremarkable (as it was rather typical for a mother to clothe her newborn in some way) if it was not repeated by the angelic messenger to the shepherds as a part of a "sign" they could "see".
2) Thus, as a part of a "sign" designed to elicit "faith", it bears a bit more investigation.
a) What was the point of mentioning Mary's activity of putting cloths on her newborn?
b) Part of Luke's overall point is revealed by the rather innocuous words at the opening of the verses: "And it came about while they were there...".
i. The "there" is deliberate and emphatic.
ii. It is a major focus of the entire 7-verse paragraph that Messiah had to be born in the House of Bread for its links to David. This was the reason for tying the event to the decree of Caesar -- to explain why there were there. This was the reason for explaining that Joseph was of the lineage of David -- to explain why they were there.
iii. It was absolutely imperative, as revealed by ancient prophecy, that the Messiah should be indentified with David in respect to the nature of the True Bread of the True Life.
c) A small bit of investigation reveals that the choice of "cloths" was made to, as Liddell-Scott says it, "reveal the baby's true birth and family".
i. Apparently, each "family" (in this case, the "family of David") had certain cloths that were to serve as a covering for a newborn that were consistent through the family.
ii. The shepherds, being from that region, would be able to tell at a glance what the baby's family heritage was...this one was of the house and family of David.
b. The second such word is translated "she laid Him...".
1) The word so translated is "anaklino".
2) But, when the angelic messenger told the shepherds of the "sign", he used the word "keimai".
3) A little investigation shows why the angel used a different word.
a) The word "keimai" means "lying".
b) The word "anaklino" means "to be placed in a recumbant position because of the extremely high regard the one doing the action has for the one(s) receiving the action" [See Luke 12:37 and 13:29].
c) The shepherds would have no way to tell of that "high regard", so the angel didn't tell them to look for it.
4) This word, actually, becomes a major issue in these verses -- as we shall soon see.
c. The third such word is translated "in a manger...".
1) The word signifies the feeding trough for animals.
2) It was a key to the "sign" for two reasons...
a) It was very unusual.
b) It made finding the right baby possible -- the shepherds would have known every feeding place in Bethlehem, no matter how many or few, because that was their business.
d. The fourth such word is translated "the inn".
1) The word means "the room for guests" -- not Hotel 6.
2) The significance is not that the local motels were all posting "no vacancy" signs, but, rather, that whoever owned the dwelling place (friend, family member, or hostel-manager) also owned one of the feeding places for the animals in Bethlehem and that he/she felt comfortable enough with the nature of the place to install the overflow of guests there.
a) That this would have been so made it even easier for the shepherds to find the right place because many of them may not have been considered suitable by anyone...so the few that were could be checked out first.
b) This is not a commentary on the "plight" of Joseph and Mary, it is an explanation for Mary's placement of Jesus in the manger, given her attitude of very high regard.
B. Luke's thesis.
1. Luke is all about making sure that we understand WHO Jesus is...the Davidic heir of the throne of the Kingdom of God.
2. Luke is also all about making sure that we understand WHAT Jesus is like...the Servant-King Whose service is real service indeed in that it is both a summons to the "agenda of life" and a provision for that agenda.
3. Luke is, finally, all about making sure that we understand that participation with this WHO on the basis of this WHAT is fundamentally all wrapped up in "attitude", not external non-essentials.
a. His point about Mary's attitude and the reason for her action is that it is so contrary to the way men typically think.
b. Why is such a big deal made of Jesus having a "manger" for a bed? Was it a part of WHO He is and WHAT He is like to care?
c. Why does Luke make a significant point of Mary's attitude? There is only one thing that Jesus "cares" about -- our attitude toward Him as a reflection of our attitude toward LIFE.