Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 1 2020 - Luke 1:1-25 – From the beginning

Of all of the Gospel writers, Luke alone tells us about the birth of John the Baptist.

Luke informs us that he had taken great care to investigate every detail of the stories about Jesus. He wanted to set down an orderly account of all that had happened – probably not only for Theophilus but for the sake of the scattered congregations he had visited with Paul. He had sought out eye-witnesses and had listened to their stories. He had read accounts that others had put together. Now he sits down to tell the story "from the beginning" (Luke 1:3). Others might have begun with the ministry of John the Baptist but Luke begins with his birth. This, he implies, is where the story really begins.

It begins here because this is where God begins to act. After four hundred long years of silence and waiting, four hundred years in which there was only the dim echo of God's voice, God is now raising up another prophet, the last of the prophets, who will prepare his people for his appearing. God is on the move.

And when God is on the move, extraordinary things happen. An elderly childless couple are promised a son. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth – driven by the Spirit into desert places; given by the Spirit a prophetic word of both judgment and hope, "Prepare to meet your God." Zechariah cannot believe his ears, even though these things are personally announced to him by the angel Gabriel. And because of his unbelief he is struck dumb. It is as if he now becomes part of that long period of silence before God acts to bring salvation to his people and open their mouths with songs of praise.

This, then, is where Luke begins his story. A story that will focus on Jesus the Christ: the one in whom God has come to save his people; the one whose conception was the work of the Spirit; the one upon whom the Spirit descended at his baptism by John (3:22); the one who preached good news to the poor in the power of the Spirit (4:18). The first volume of Luke's story will conclude with Jesus' death and resurrection, events in which all the Scriptures find their fulfilment (24:25-27). But that is not the end of his story. Volume two begins with the outpouring of the Spirit on his disciples, equipping them to preach good news to the world.

And this story is still not yet finished. God is still on the move. His Spirit is still at work in the world. God will not rest content until all the earth hears his voice and has come to know about the Lord Jesus. He will not rest until he has redeemed for himself a people from every nation, people-group and language. Nor will his Spirit allow us to rest content with a half-finished task. The good news has been proclaimed to us not by an angel sent from heaven but by the incarnate Son of God – the word made flesh. We stand amazed at the revelation of God’s grace, goodness and love, but he will not have us to be struck dumb: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Mighty, restless God, move us today by your Spirit that we may be "servants of the word". May our mouths be opened to declare the wonders of what you have done for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Be on the move in and through us this day to continue your great work of opening blind eyes and setting captives free.

Peter Misselbrook