Advent 2022 #9: Looking back at the clues

I love reading the opening chapters of the gospel of Luke pretty much every December.

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve read these pages, every year when you return to them you find different things, or something different stands out to you, than what stood out last year. It’s an interesting observation about humans and how we operate, if nothing else.

I think it’s also an opportunity for God to point us to different things, for us to ponder the depth of his ways afresh, every year.

With Isaiah fresh in my mind from my reading in November, the writer’s opening rationale and explanation of his mode of operation, stood out to me. Luke writes the following in his opening paragraph:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,  just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke starts the gospel with prophecy.

He’s writing a book about Jesus and so he starts with establishing the context of God’s plans from many years ago.

Jesus Christ fulfilled what had been previously written. He was the one about whom it all had been pointing towards. He was the only one who could meet the requirements of everything that had been foretold.

All throughout the pages of the Old Testament, there had been cryptic clues as to what should be expected; what God had planned. Whether the Jews understood these clues and whether those in the days of Jesus picked up on them or not, is another matter.

Yet some of them did.

At Christmas time we think about the birth of Jesus, and are also reminded of the birth of his relative, John the Baptist. It’s good also to think about what John, as an adult in prison, asked of Jesus, for this makes the same point as the opening pages of Luke’s gospel.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Jesus basically quotes back Isaiah 29.

He basically makes it clear that all the prophetic writing is coming true, right before the man’s eyes.

Yes, what you see and hear is what was to come.

With hindsight now, we can look back with Luke and see the nativity and recount of Jesus’ birth in the context of Isaiah’s writing, hundreds of years earlier.

This is the majesty of God. He knows the future and sometimes he chooses to share it. So those that were paying attention can say, “I see and hear that has come to pass, and so has that, and that… and that.”

As we look at the baby in the manger, these are some of the reflections we should ponder.

Yours in seeing and hearing it come to pass,

Alison

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