The Gospel of Luke begins with this reason for its writing, “So that you may know the truth about those things which you have been instructed” (Luke 1:4). At least seventy years have passed since the death of Jesus. The young Church is growing to include more people who never met Jesus, and the Gospels serve as written testaments to his life. Following my preceding blog posts, I will explore the stories that align with the claims of the Epistles, the letters written to help form the ideas and behaviors of the people of the Way.
In effect, Luke writes that these are the stories you must know to understand why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do. Using this lens, we will be reflecting on the Gospel passages this week through two questions: What do these stories reveal about the nature of Jesus? Why might the authors have included them in their Gospels?
The birth narratives we read today reveal to us the truth that Jesus is of God. Jesus’ birth is foretold by messengers of the Divine in the form of angels. His name Emmanuel signifies that now God is with us, and he is born under miraculous conditions.
Not only is Jesus Divine — he is of the same God that the Hebrew people worshiped in the Hebrew Bible. The use of the prophetic texts to describe Jesus connect him to the stories we read in the Hebrew Bible, which express a longing for a ruler to come restore Israel. This is their king.
Why was it so important to make clear that Jesus was and is of God?
One, it is vital that the earliest followers, and likewise we today, recognize Jesus as part of the eternal story of God. He is not a new fad: he is The Very God who, from all eternity, has been calling us into right-relationship with God, one another, and creation.
In this light, we can understand the life of Jesus as the incarnate of right-relationship on Earth. His eternal relationship with God, as John’s Gospel names, qualifies him to illuminate the way of God for those of us who have not seen God. Jesus knows intimately the grace written in the letters to the Ephesians, and his life gives us an example of what it might look like if we embodied that grace here on earth.
Prayer: Jesus, may I know you as God.
Reflection: What about the birth narratives struck you? Why might you be drawn to those aspects today?
Art: Holy Night by Kimberly Greeno
More: If I had another reflection, I would share on the power of the story of Mary. If you’re interested in reading a radical sermon on her bravery, I recommend this piece.