Updated: Jun 29, 2020
I've been wanting to begin a series of posts that are linked together by a theme of topics. I have been reading through Luke for several months now and there have been so many things that I've skimmed over in the past. Reading it over again has really opened my eyes to the beauty of the words written by a physician, inspired by God.
Who is Luke?
Luke, a young man when Jesus gathered the 12 disciples, was a physician by trade. Through his skills, he helped Paul after many beatings and tortures. He was alongside Paul on most of his journeys, helping him write to Timothy and the early church, (Col. 4:14, 2 Tim. 4:11). Luke gave us more references and words of Jesus and the early start of the church more than any other author of the gospels. Because he was a trained physician his eyes and knowledge for factual truth are evident through his writings.
The start of the letters he wrote was written to a Christian man named, Theophilus. We know very little of this man, other than his desire to learn more about the Christian faith. Some assume he was Luke's patron and helped publish his letters so that more gentile people could reach the gospel.
The book of Luke was written in the early mid -60s AD. The timing of Jesus' ministry was 5BC to 33AD.
Remember that the Bible is a whole.
The Bible is a messy and complex story. It's one of the only books that has been written from 35 different authors in a wide range of different time periods with incredible accuracy.
As we go through the book of Luke together, we will go back and forth through the other books of the bible so we can get the full capacity and meaning behind the words and scriptures.
As you read the Bible on your own time, I recommend you do this with other books that you read in the Bible. The beauty of the Word is that it works as a whole. Although, it is divided by 66 books it flows with perfect unity. The Bible is a living and breathing word of God.
With that, let's begin.
Now, you may think that I am going to begin where most people did themselves when they flip to Luke - the birth of Jesus. But, we're not going to start there.
Let's begin reading in Luke 2:21
I will be using the ESV version, but if you would prefer to use a different translation you are more than welcome to!
'And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”' - Luke 2:21-24
This poor, young couple have brought Jesus into the temple after he was circumcised to offer a sacrifice - as waa custom for Jews during this time. We know that Joseph and Mary were more likely not wealthy because of the sacrifice they gave: a pair of turtledoves or two pigeons. If one gave these sacrifices, it was because they could not afford to give a lamb. Yet, what they held in their hands was the Lamb of God. How humbling!
Israelites would give sacrifices to God for their sins by way of animal sacrifices. This was all written into law in the times of Moses. Read reference verses here: Lev. 12.
'Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,' - Luke 2:25-27
Simeon is known as a righteous and devout man. His name comes from the verb, שמע (shama'), meaning to hear and understand or obey.
Something interesting that I find in verse 25 is the Holy Spirit was upon him. In verse 26, the Spirit has been revealed to him.
He would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Christ is also another word for anointed. We assume that Christ is just Jesus' last name, but it's more of a title. χριστος (christos), means to smear or anoint.
The Spirit led Simeon to go to the temple on the morning of Jesus' arrival. Take note of this, Simeon didn't turn his ear or his heart from the Holy Spirit. He obeyed and followed where God led. Can you imagine if Simeon decided to sleep in and not get out and go to the temple on this day? He would have missed out on something remarkable.
God desired Simeon to see Jesus. God wanted him to see the Promise born.
How remarkable it is that God would care about such a moment. God is in the details! He cares about what we desire.
God desires us to partake in blessings as His children. If we are willing to obey and listen, God grants us what we desire in Him.
How have you noticed blessings come from obedience in your life?
'-he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”' - Luke 2:28-32
Simeon, old in age, patient in waiting, praised the Creator while holding Him in his arms.
This selah of praise coming from Simeon's mouth was a surprise for Mary and Joseph. They didn't expect this. But, God works with appointed times and nothing ever happens by accident.
I highlighted verse 37, a light for revelation to all the Gentiles.
The Son is the radiance of God's glory. 'Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.' - Hebrews 1:3
'And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”' - Luke 2:33-35
There is so much meaning pact in what Simeon blessed Mary with. He told her of what was to come because he had the Holy Spirit upon him. A sword will pierce through your soul.
'For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.' Hebrews 4:12
The Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does not affect the physical body, but rather the spiritual body - the soul.
What do you think this verse talks about when it says, the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword?
There is a song that came into my mind when I was studying this. Take a moment and listen to the song and its symbolic and beautiful story. Here are some of the lyrics:
Then the perfect son of man
Took the place the voice had planned
Since the garden and before
He took the swords and cursed the grave
There's nothing more to separate us from the promise
The words of a living hope
'And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.' - Luke 2:36-38
I've always loved this tragic, yet beautiful story of Anna. The only Anna that is mentioned in the Bible holds a special place in my heart and not just because we share the same name.
Anna is born from the tribe of Asher, the tribe that is blessed to be acceptable and whose foot is dipped in oil. (See Deut. 33:24) The phrase means that they would be wealthy enough to not only have oil to use on the head but their feet as well.
Her husband died 7 years after they were married and she remained a widow ever since. This heartbreaking story shows the love and faithfulness she had in her heart. Even though she was feeble in age, she was strong in the faith. She prayed at the temple daily.
Anna's faithfulness resembles what the church should be today. She waits, she hopes, and she shows the world that Jesus is worth suffering for.
In what ways do you think you are suffering for Jesus and the gospel?
If you have noticed through our time reading, Simeon and Anna are both in the last years of their life.
Jesus came to relieve this generation that has been waiting for the Messiah. He came to not abolish the old era, but establish a new one.
To be a shining light. The complete and pure essence of the Father in the flesh. To bring atonement for all sins. To redeem and restore a relationship with our Creator forever. All in the form of a babe.
I can't wait to read more of Luke with you! I have already learned so much through reading it over again. I hope that you enjoy this as well!
I highly encourage you to read the gospel for yourself. Fact check me, the beauty of the gospel is different for everyone. As you read through it, you may pick up on something that I wouldn't have at first. I would love to hear your thoughts on this snippet of Luke!