Monday in the First Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 1:1-4

Ours Is an Historical Faith

This may seem like a strange passage over which to stop and write a devotion.  I mean most people probably read over these four short verses to get to the gospel, to the angelic announcements of the upcoming conceptions of John and, most importantly, Jesus.  Well I can understand that.  I ordinarily do not spend a lot of time here, either.

But it’s important that we do, and here’s why.  Yes, it’s the inspired word of God and that makes it worth our time no matter how mundane it seems.  But there is something else I want to emphasize here.  What these four little verses tell us is that ours is an historical faith.  By that, I mean that the Christian faith is based on things that happened in the here and now.  Hinduism and Buddhism are mythological; they make no arguments to the contrary.  Eastern religion tends to see the world as unreal; Nirvana is real to them.  But the Christian faith (and its Judeo background in the Old Testament) proudly and loudly shouts that these things really happened.  And what that means is that God has really and truly acted in our space and time – well, really His space and time as He is the One who created it all.

So when Luke starts out rehearsing for Theophilus that others had sought to compile a narrative of the events “just as those who from the beginning were eye witnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,” he makes it clear that his intention is not to write a fairy tale.  Indeed, Luke, the “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14) and thus an educated man, has “followed all things closely for some time past” and intends to write “an orderly account.”  Why?  So that Theophilus, his intended recipient (the writers of the Scriptures had no idea that they were writing Scripture, which adds authenticity and integrity to their writings), “may have certainty concerning the things [he has] been taught.”  In other words, Luke has done some research; he’s spoken to eye-witnesses, you know, like Mary; after all, his is the only gospel that tells about the angelic announcement and birth of Jesus from what is obviously HER point of view.  No, Luke wasn’t an apostle, but he knew them and, as he indicates in the “we” passages of his other work, the Book of Acts, traveled with the Apostle Paul (21:1ff).

So that’s why you need to pause over these first four verses, so that you too “may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”  And the good news is that God is still working in the world, convicting hearts of sin, convincing people of their need for Christ, and saving souls.

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