Week of December 10

Second Sunday of Advent Devotional:

Read the Bible Through: 2 Timothy 1-4
Second Advent Reading: Luke 2:8-14, ESV


“Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy” (C.S. Lewis). The Gospel writer Luke often uses historical “anchors,” as I will term them, to secure an event within a particular time frame (cf. HCBC).
This is significant for us today because Luke wrote of an earth-changing event that has implications for all of time. Jesus came into the world in a depressing time of Roman occupation. I know that countless Christians around the globe identify with this passage because they suffer oppression for tyrannical regimes. The human story in that era and now has been for many one of utter despair. God had a response then, and He has one for us today. Enter Jesus! 
Surely you will notice that there is something different about the birth narrative of Jesus. From the beginning of His life there were unique things that took place. We saw in Luke 1 that the birth announcement given to Mary was superior to the one that was given to Zechariah. Secondly, Jesus’ conception was more wonderful, as was His birth. John’s birth was marked by his father’s prophecy, while Jesus’ birth was marked by a theophany and angelic chorus. Thirdly, we also must notice that several Christological titles were given to Jesus. So, Luke begins to write his Gospel account with the end in mind—Jesus is the Savior of the world. We hear this so much that it may have lost its impact in our daily lives. Let’s examine this claim more carefully.

The Meaning of the Text
(Luke 2:8-14)

History is “His story”
We may not realize it, but every time that we read the “Christmas story” we are examining a watershed moment in human history. Luke takes care to show us that Jesus was born in a specific time and place in history (2:1-6). We must remember that the Gospels do not typically give particular attention to the events of time, except those happenings that bear directly on Jesus (HCBC). Therefore, we have before us the mystery of the incarnation, God becoming flesh, in history. This means that He has reached down toward us in our world. The spectacular truth is that He is the only God to do this. Furthermore, He did this because He loves us.
The need for the Prince of Peace
Our world presently reels from war. Mass shootings here in America occurred earlier this week and massive loss of life is ongoing in Gaza and Ukraine. We read regular accounts of enormous movements of displaced humanity and the tragic loss of lives due to hunger, sickness, violence, and hopelessness. We need Christ’s peace to permeate our planet!
In the New Testament Christ is Peace (cf. Isaiah 9:1-7, Messiah is Prince of Peace; Zechariah 9:9-10; John 12:12-18; Ephesians 2:14-17, Savior and peacemaker), and He is the mediator of reconciliation (Isaiah 27:5; Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:20, “making peace by the blood of the cross; Luke 2:14). Jesus has the power to unite that which is divided.
Secondly, we, His disciples, pass peace on to others (Luke 10:5 f.; Matthew 10:13). This peace is received and sustained in communion with Christ (Philippians 4:7; 1 Peter 5:14), and it renews human relationships (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Mark 9:50, Romans 12:18, be at peace with one another). The church is edified in peace (Romans 14:17, 19; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Philippians 4:9, opposite of disorder). Peace, as far as is possible, is to be pursued not only in the church, but with all men (Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 5:9, “making peace”; Ephesians 4:3; 1 Peter 3:11). Our mission in this season and year-round should be to spread the peace of Christ (Matthew 5:9).
Finally, God causes peace to rule in the hearts of men (Colossians 3:15) that manifests itself as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Such all-enveloping peace heals all wounds caused by war, dissension, and inner turmoil.
Jesus, our Peace, is truly the reason for the season!
First, this means that Jesus is the Savior of “your world” and “my world” as well. The first recipients of the Good News were shepherds who were often considered to be dishonest and outcasts, although this is not necessarily the case with these humble souls (2:8). Luke shows us that having a heart that hungers for change is key to God’s visitation (cf. Matthew 5:3, 6). There is certainly hope for us because they were sinners for whom Jesus came (2:10). Good news means that the gospel is for people—Jews (cf. 3:21; 7:29; 8:47) and Gentiles (Acts 15:1-29; 18:10).
Secondly, when Luke writes “today,” he uses a term for messianic salvation (2:11; “Savior”). God’s long-expected plan and purpose for the redemption of the world has arrived. “Christ the Lord” pairs two important titles together. They show us that Jesus is God’s anointed messiah and that He is Lord over all (Acts 2:36). Titles are one thing, but Luke wants us to recognize the scope of Christ’s rule over our lives.
Robert Stein, a Bible scholar, reminds us that Jesus claimed and showed unique authority (Luke 20:1-8; 6:1-5). He possessed authority over nature (8:25; 9:10-16), sickness (4:38-40; 7:22), and over Satan and evil (4:36, 41; 10:17-20). Notice that there is no area of life that remains outside of His authority. He is Lord over the greatest of all leaders and He is Lord in a qualitative sense, meaning he held the Divine privilege (5:20-26; 7:48-49; 24:52; NAC). Jesus’s coming was for the purpose of changing our lives for the better. How wonderful this gift is for us today!

Living the Truth

For years I was an annual loser of the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. I entered that contest “forever” and lost it time and time again. I lost it so many times that I do not even enter it any longer. Truth be told, though, a great number of grand-prize winners find that their success brings with it much conflict. They discover that money does not cause them to flourish. In short, they lack peace!
Jesus is our Peace! Countless people have given up on life because they have tried to find lasting happiness over and again, but their existence has left them in utter despair. This passage today has led me to rewrite the C. S. Lewis quote a bit: “Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will bring him peace.”

The birth of Jesus is the long-awaited wonderful story of God’s gift to provide lasting human peace. So, praise Jesus for entering your life today and for providing you with His peace.

Family Focus on Prayer

A good place to begin to seek the peace is inside our homes. Conflict often reigns there as a cruel landlord who exacts a heavy price on all who reside there. Begin today and pray for Christ to reign over your home and to bring His peace to each life. Widen your prayers to include your extended family, work associates and friends, as well as our world.

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock
Here is a link to daily advent readings that we believe will enhance your family worship time throughout this season: Daily Advent Readings