Friday, December 4, 2009

The Testimony to Incarnation (Section 1c of the Nameless Luke Advent Thingee)

The Margins

Read Luke 1.1-4

Yesterday we looked at “…the things that have been accomplished among us” and the gospel – Jesus saving us from the judgment due us. We can’t escape the reality of judgment. It is biblical and important.

But it shouldn’t be our entire motivation for embracing Jesus, either. He didn’t come to scare us into heaven; He came to bring us life and usher us into a new way of living. This is our last introductory look before we get to the texts leading to Jesus’ birth, but it is an important ‘big picture’ item that may not surface prominently in the first couple chapters of Luke. It is, however, an important theme in Luke that touches the hearts of people all over the world during the Christmas season.

God cares for the people on the margins. Bringing people from the edges of society to the center of God’s people is one of “…the things that have been accomplished among us.”

As I’ve read Jesus’ miracles through the years, I’ve been amazed at His power and pointed to His deity. Only God could do such amazing things. But if you think about it, that’s not true. The Bible has examples of people who do almost anything Jesus does – from a bottomless supply of food to raising the dead to healing leprosy.

There’s something more than power at work in Jesus miracles. Don’t get me wrong, power is important, but there’s compassion in them. That leper doesn’t just have a skin disease. He’s cut off from the people of God. He can’t worship at the Temple. But when Jesus heals him, he’s brought from the margins into the mainstream. He’s moved from unclean to clean.

Or that woman. The one who has been bleeding for years. She’s unclean. She can’t touch anyone else – or she’ll make them unclean. She can’t worship in the temple. She’s unclean. But Jesus heals her. Not only is her body made whole, but she is been given new life socially and spiritually. She can hug and be hugged without making others unqualified to worship. She can worship herself at God’s House. For the first time in years.

As we work through these first couple chapters of Luke (coming soon, I promise), it may not be as prominent as it is in the rest of the book, but Luke is known as the gospel most concerned with people on the margins.

Christmas is a time when we think of those on the margins. It is when our hearts hurt for those who can’t afford Christmas gifts – or even a warm meal. I’ve heard (don’t quote me!) that this is a great time for donations to ministries to those in need, but shortly after the holidays donations drop off. People are moved to alleviate need during this season.

If you read Luke and see Jesus’ desire to relieve pain – not just financial, but social and spiritual and physical – you see that this desire to help and heal is something God desires from each of us. How appropriate that, when we celebrate Jesus’ arrival to our world, we act more like He did. Helping the hurting, the needy, the broken.

What are you doing this season to bring hope to those who are hurting?

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