Sunday 27 December 2020

Bible Book:

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. (v. 39)

Luke 2:22-40 Sunday 27 December 2020

Psalm 148


Matthew and Luke give us the Christmas story in all its wonder and ‘ordinariness’. Luke records that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, five or six miles from Jerusalem. He refers, as any physician might, to the purification of Mary after childbirth (see Leviticus 12:2-5) and to the circumcision of the boy child eight days after the birth. It made sense for Joseph and Mary to bring their infant to Jerusalem for the ritual ceremonies attendant on the birth of a first-born son before returning to Nazareth, 70 miles from Bethlehem. Or, according to Matthew,  they did this before setting off on a lengthy journey to Egypt, as they were  aware of the threat to the child from King Herod.

But chronology was not Luke’s concern – what he was anxious to convey is that this child was born into the Jewish tradition and observant of the Law. Luke uses the phrase, ‘Law of Moses’ or ‘Law of the Lord’, nine times in his Gospel – five times in this passage. From his birth, Jesus is presented as belonging to a people obedient to the Law of the Lord. During his ministry, Jesus will affirm to the people of Nazareth that the Scripture is being fulfilled in their hearing (4:21); he will tell a leprosy sufferer to fulfil his obligations as a healed man (5:14); he will tell those listening that he has come not to abolish the Law, but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17).

The early Church father, St Irenaeus, in a much disputed phrase, spoke about the glory of God being revealed in a person 'fully alive'. One interpretation of this might be that the glory of God is shown forth in a life lived in full obedience to the will of God. This is in line with what Luke is telling his readers in these verses.

To Ponder:

  • What does it mean to you to be obedient, intentionally, to God’s will?
  • How do you see your life as revealing the glory of God – or do you?
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