An Unlikely Entrance

Tony Sammut   -  

Over the next several weeks, we’re journeying through a Sunday sermon series, called History Maker.  So, in both our Sunday sermons and our Community Bible Reading, we’ll be exploring the book of Luke in the New Testament, and discovering just what it was about Jesus that changed not just all of history, but can change our own stories as well.

Day 1: Luke 1:1-25

Luke’s biography of Jesus begins in a place where, perhaps, we might not expect (that’s a theme he seems to like throughout this book!).  Not with the hero of the story – Jesus – but instead, with a bit of an odd couple.  Zechariah and Elizabeth.  They were a couple, very old by now, who had no doubt gone through more than their fair share of hardship and suffering, not least of which was the agony (especially in this culture) of never having children of their own.  Zechariah, a priest, is chosen to go and burn incense in the inner most sanctuary of the temple.  And there he has a most incredible vision and hears the most incredible news.  A brilliant angel appears, saying, “Zechariah, you and Elizabeth, even though old and grey, will have a son.  And not just any son.  He will be the one who prepares the way for The One.”  As outside observers of this story, it’s no doubt that in choosing Zechariah and Elizabeth to be the bearers of this child, God was reminding His people of a similar thing He did many years before, when Abraham and Sarah had their first child – also at a ripe old age.  Back then, it was the beginning of the people, Israel.  But now, this would be an altogether different beginning.  An even bigger and better beginning.  But for whatever reason, Zechariah couldn’t see any of that.  And he certainly couldn’t believe it.  Perhaps the many years of hardship, toil, and disappointment had dulled not only his imagination, but his faith as well.

Is there any way this may be the case for you right now?  Has a faith-filled imagination in God’s plans and promises become dulled and jaded because of your own hardships or heartbreaks?  Share that with God.  Ask him to restore your faith and joy – hopefully without having to make you mute to do it!

Day 2: Luke 1:26-56

If a celebrity or a member of royalty visits another country, there is usually a simple pattern to their stay.  Big venues.  Important people.  Many bystanders all around to see.  When important people do important things, it needs to be noticed.  And yet God, once again, seems to choose another, not-so-expected, pattern to his visit to earth.  The capital city of Israel was Jerusalem, which was right in the centre of the nation and held both the Palace and the Temple – all the important people.  But Jesus was born nowhere near the limelight of Jerusalem.  Instead, he came to a family who lived in the backwater town of Nazareth in Galilee, on the outskirts of Israel’s territory – far from the centre, where important things happened.  And he was born not to a queen or a princess.  But to a girl.  And in that culture, that would have been a “double negative”.  Both a female and a child – two members of society who were often nameless and voiceless.  Yet God knew this girl’s name, and he saw her heart.  He valued this no-name girl like a queen – because only a queen can give birth to a new King.  This realization bubbles out of Mary in her song.  This is only the beginning, she sings.  God is just getting started turning things upside down.  Bringing a whole new world order. He is going to lift up the lowly, and bring down the proud.

When did you last feel unseen, unappreciated or overlooked?   Perhaps that made you angry or hurt.  Perhaps it only fueled your ambition to get noticed.  Ask God to speak into your heart this “new-world-order” that Jesus came to bring.  Allow it to lead you to both confession and praise.

Day 3: Luke 1:57-80

Luke isn’t even through the first chapter, and already, another song!  Is this guy writing a musical?!  Zechariah’s song highlights some different themes than Mary’s, but with no less wonder and awe.  It’s clear, Zechariah’s life has felt the weight of hardship and oppression.  He has lived with longing for freedom and peace.  And yet, his song seems to point to a freedom and peace that is even bigger than what he had ever hoped for.  Not just freedom from political oppression, but freedom from the brokenness inside humanity that causes one to oppress another in the first place.  Freedom would come with God’s mercy, the forgiveness of sins, the rescue from death itself.  Zechariah had been hoping for “salvation” all these years, and he just realized that it would be bigger than he had ever thought!

Is there anything that you have been asking God to free you from, or free you for?  Ask him if there is perhaps an even bigger kind of freedom He wants to lead you into.  Listen to what He might say to you.

Day 4: Luke 2:1-21

If the Highest Power in the universe is really coming to perform the greatest rescue in history, this isn’t really how you would expect the story to go.  Born in an animal shelter to a teenage girl, who had been rejected by all of her own friends and family.  Celebrated by no one, except some low-life, no-name shepherds.  Everything is backwards in Luke’s story, and that’s the point.  He’s showing how God’s kingdom is revealed — in the dirty places.  With lowly and forgotten people.  Jesus is here to bring salvation by turning our world order upside-down.

Ask Jesus to show you an area of your life – perhaps how you think about…  Money?  Family? Health? Your vocation? A certain person? – needs to be turned upside-down by him.

Day 5: Luke 2:22-51

Well, what started out as a “regular” day at the Temple for Mary and Joseph, turned out to have some unexpected surprises!  Two people – Simeon and Anna – completely disconnected from each other, speak powerful prophetic words over Jesus when they see him.    They have each lived with their share of suffering and longing.  And their words – though spoken with joy – seem to say that this Chosen Child will not only deal with suffering, but share in it himself.  Yes, he is indeed the one who brings redemption – not just to Israel, but to all nations.  But he will bring it by being opposed so harshly, it will be like a sword right through his mother’s heart.  As Simeon said, he will make many in Israel fall and rise again.  And in fact that will be his own destiny, as he himself will pass through death and into resurrection and victory.  Everything that Simeon and Anna were hoping for was wrapped up in this child.

Invite Jesus to speak into your own hardships and longings.  Ask him to make sense of them.  To meet you in the midst of them.  To show you how He shares in them with you.  And to lead you to a new hope.