Luke 1: 1 - 25
“Crazy, Busy, Peaceful, Holy Night” How many of you feel like the Christmas season is crazy busy? It sure seems more hectic than holy, doesn’t it?
I wonder how many of us are stressed simply because we’re focusing more on our feelings than on the facts of Christmas. Postmodernism is the prevailing philosophy of our day, which is the belief there is no such thing as absolute truth. Rather, truth is personal and subjective – I have my truth and you have your truth. This philosophy is not only “out there” but also in the evangelical church.
Here’s what we’re going to learn today: Build your faith on facts, not feelings.
Luke 1: 1 – 4 - Here are few things about the human author and his approach: • Luke was a respected doctor. • He was personally acquainted with firsthand eyewitnesses. • Luke was the human author of the Gospel of Luke as well as the Book of Acts - 52 chapters – one third of NT.
• This prologue is written in the most polished Greek of the NT - appealing to the highly educated Gentile reader. • Luke devotes more space to the birth and infancy of Jesus than any other gospel. • He goes out of his way to show the gospel is for every class, nation, race, generation and gender. • Luke uses the word “sinners” 16 times, more than the other gospel writers combined • He refers to Jesus as “Saviour” twice.
How do we know that any of this is even true? Can we have any confidence that Christmas really happened? Can we know with certainty that the Saviour has come? Is it really possible to have peace and live a holy life in the midst of busyness and craziness?
Luke’s prologue gives us four facts about our faith.
1. Christianity is Historical v. 1
I love that Luke refers to this as an “account” - “narrative” - because it speaks of the historical facts about our faith. Notice there are not multiple narratives but one narrative. In that sense, there are really not 4 gospels, but one gospel as told by 4 different human authors. This is not a story or a legend or an allegory. It’s not make-believe.
Christianity is not just a religious philosophy - “It’s primarily about the God who created the universe miraculously invading human history in the person of Jesus Christ who uniquely revealed God to us.”
Speaking of the historicity of Christianity, don’t you love hearing about archaeological discoveries? Recently experts in Israel announced that a ring discovered 50 years ago at the Herodian fortress bears the inscription “Pilatus” - quite possible this belonged to the infamous Pontius Pilate. There really was a Roman governor in Judea at the time of Jesus named Pilate.
Recently archaeologists announced the discovery of a clay seal with the signature of Isaiah. Don’t you love it when archaeology catches up with what the Bible already says is true! Because Christianity is historical, we can build our faith on facts, not feelings.
2. Christianity is Verifiable v. 2
The word “first” - “beginning” refers to the events surrounding the births of John and Jesus in the first 2 chapters of Luke – v. 5.
• When - in the days of Herod.
• Who - a man named Zechariah. Luke doesn’t say, “Once upon a time, some guy…” Zechariah was married to Elizabeth, a daughter of Aaron.
• What - what he did – he was a priest.
• Where - in the division of Abijah.
The details related to the birth of Jesus are also verifiable – v. 26, 27.
• When - Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant.
• Who - introduced to Gabriel, Joseph and Mary by name.
• What - Mary is referred to as a virgin twice in 2 verses and Joseph is from the house of David.
• Where - Nazareth, an actual town in Galilee.
v. 2 - Let’s hover over these 2 terms –
A. Eyewitnesses - refers to someone who has seen something with his or her own eyes. Luke interviewed those who could give first-hand expert eyewitness testimony. These people were eager to share what they had seen and experienced - Acts 4: 20 “For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
2 Peter 1: 16 “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
1 John 1: 1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.”
B. Servants - If an eyewitness sees, a minister serves. A minister is one who knows he or she is under the authority of an owner.
We can know Christianity is true because it is historical and it is verifiable. Eyewitnesses have seen and ministers continue to serve to this day. Are you trusting in your feelings or the facts of our faith? Christianity is historical and verifiable.
3. Christianity is Orderly v. 3
As a careful physician, trained in noting every detail, he “followed all things closely.” This means he “attended carefully and accurately.” Luke was a reputable historian who did deep research, conducting intensive interviews to put his narrative together. He interviewed eyewitnesses and pulled together other source material. As a doctor, he was observant, thoughtful and persuasive. As a scientist, he was accustomed to handling data and details as he crafted it all together into a compelling narrative we know as the Gospel According to Luke. Incidentally, if you have a skeptical and scientific mind with a logical leaning, this book is for you.
After compiling his research, he wrote an “orderly account” - means, “consecutively in connected order.” This practice was also followed in Acts 11: 4: “But Peter began and explained it to them in order.”
Friends, the Bible is fact, not fiction. What’s contained in this book is inspired and inerrant, it’s not legend but the actual life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke’s purpose was to present Jesus in all His fullness, focusing on historical, verifiable and orderly facts so his readers could know that his account was absolutely accurate and remarkably reliable. Oral history can change but what is written and recorded endures.
Both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts refer to “Theophilus.” It’s likely that Theophilus was a distinguished official because government leaders like Felix and Festus were given the same “most excellent” title in Acts. His name means, “God-lover” or “friend of God.” As a new believer, perhaps he was worried if Christianity was really true. Maybe he was wondering why Christians were being persecuted. This may have led him to doubt. Maybe his life had become so busy and his days so crazy that he was starting to follow his feelings.
We can build our faith on facts, not feelings because Christianity is historical, verifiable and orderly. Because of that, we can be certain about what we believe.
4. Christianity is Certain v. 4
We don’t have to focus on our feelings or conjure up some kind of seasonal sentimentality. We can know for sure that it’s true. The word “certainty” means, “to know fully and thoroughly, to become fully acquainted with.” When John wrote his account of the life of Jesus, he wanted his readers to be certain so they can be saved.
John 20: 30, 31 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
C.S. Lewis summarized the reliability and relevance of our faith - “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
Silent No More
Shortly after the Book of Nehemiah ends, God spoke through the prophet Malachi, calling the people out for their sins. And then, for the next 400 years, heaven is silent…until God breaks in by sending an angel to speak to Zechariah.
We are so fortunate that God broke through all the crazy chaos and spoke into the silence that had lasted 400 years - Luke 1: 11 – 13.
God speaks again through an angel, this time to Mary – v. 28.
Does God ever seem silent to you? If so, remember these 5 truths…
1. God’s silence does not mean He is inactive.
2. God’s timeline can be trusted because He is weaving His ways and His will for His glory.
3. God can do anything.
4. God sent His Son to save us.
5. God expects a response from us.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke recorded this statement from the lips of Jesus in Luke 19: 10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke wrote to one individual named Theophilus so he could know the truth and the certainty of the gospel. Build your faith on facts, not feelings.
• Christianity is historical
• Christianity is verifiable
• Christianity is orderly
• Christianity is certain
God is speaking to many individuals right now. Will you choose to trust the facts and not your feelings so that through faith, you can be saved?
Isaiah 53: 6 puts it plainly, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
“What’s the best part of Christmas?” Presents? Cake? Decorations? Jingle Bells?
The best part of Christmas is Jesus. That first Christmas night wasn’t calm and quiet but it was peaceful because the Prince of Peace was born. Jesus wants to enter our crazy busy lives to give us peace and lead us to holy living.
In the 1600s a man named Angelus Silesius wrote a hymn –
“Though Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in thee
Thy soul is still forlorn.”
It was out of love that God the Father sent His Son to be the Saviour of the World. Love was born that first Christmas.
I’ve named this series, “Prepare Him Room.” Have you repented and received Jesus Christ into your life? Actually, He doesn’t want a little room in your life; He wants your whole life.