October 18th, 2010


It’s like Christmas in October.  Only better.

Christmas celebrations, as we all know and complain, often lost the origin and meaning.  We can only blame ourselves.  The Church itself began to overemphasize Christmas long before modern culture commercialized it.

Two of the four gospels say nothing about the birth of Jesus Christ, meaning that it’s not essential to the telling of the Story.  What we call the Christmas stories are less visible in the gospels than the ministry of John the Baptist, the feeding of the 5,000, the triumphal entry, the Last Supper/Upper Room, Jesus’ trial and suffering, or his death and resurrection – all of which are related by all four evangelists.

But that’s not to say the stories in Matthew and Luke are unimportant or untrue.  Matthew related Joseph’s angle, and affirmed that Jesus was conceived without a human father’s “contribution.” 

Luke, on the other hand, apparently interviewed Mary at length as part of his careful research.  He’s the one who gave us the details about the annunciation, Mary’s character and response as a teenage girl, the journey to Bethlehem, the stable birth, the angels lighting up the sky for the shepherds, and Mary “pondering these things in her heart.”

October is a great time to read those stories far removed from shopping lists and parties and decorations.  Let the simplicity and wonder of Christmas enthrall you as you reflect on Luke 2.

We often wonder why God doesn’t intervene in our lives as he did “in Bible times.”  What we need to remember is that there were long generations, even centuries, with no miracles, no prophets, no drama – just eating, sleeping, working, raising a family while they worshiped, believed, and waited.

The story of Christmas reminds us that the wait is worth it.  God himself entered our broken world, making possible the reversal of the alienation we had created between ourselves and him, and among our human relationships.  God showed up!  Let Christmas encourage and bless you – in October.



Oct 18: Mark 8-9
Oct 19:
Mark 10-11

Oct 20: Mark 12-13
Oct 21:
Mark 14
Oct 22:
Mark 15-16
Oct 23:
Luke 1
Oct 24:
Luke 2-3
Oct 25:
Luke 4-5


·         Mark is typical of the Gospels in that half or more of their material on Jesus’ life has to do with his suffering.  We pick up our reading this week in Mark 8, and the ESV study Bible divides Mark into two sections – with 8:27ff. titled “Journey to Jerusalem.”  From here on out, Jesus is increasingly focused on his date with suffering.  Mark gives us more detail than any other gospel on the confrontation of Jesus with the religious leaders on Tuesday before Jesus’ death (chs. 12-13), but less than any other gospel on the resurrection (16:1-8).

·         Speaking of chapter 16, your Bible probably includes vv. 9-20 do not appear in the best ancient manuscripts of Mark.  This means that a later copyist apparently felt that the book ended too abruptly, and added a “better ending.”  These events and sayings may or may not have some basis in fact (even parallels in the other gospels), but the promise to handle snakes is not something I’d recommend you try!

·         We also begin Luke this week.  Luke was a physician and traveling companion of Paul who begins his gospel with an affirmation of his careful research.  The letters of Paul were probably written before any of the gospels, giving Luke the opportunity to interview many first-hand witnesses about Jesus’ earthly life.  Among these: Jesus’ mother, Mary.  (See devotions above.)

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