Christmas Eve 2022: Luke 1:1-4
The Christmas season comes with many blessings and with many challenges. One of the blessings is that there are so many opportunities to reflect upon the Gospel, God’s grace, God’s goodness, and the gift that God has given to us. One of the challenges is that there are so many distractions that keep us from considering these blessings.
Tonight we will read from Luke 1 about the events leading up to Jesus’ birth. But before we do we will lookat Luke 1:1-4and see four themes concerning Jesus’ coming that we can apply at Christmas and throughout the year.
Let me share with you these four themes so that you can see them as we read the text.
First, Luke lived in a day when many people were writing narratives about Jesus and all that had been accomplished among them. We read, ‘ Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us…’
Secondly, Luke lived in a day when many eyewitnesses and ministers faithfully passed on accurate accounts of the word to others. We read that these people wrote of the things that they had heard ‘just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to them’.
Third, having been exposed to these things it seemed good to Luke to write this Gospel. Luke was one of those people whose life had been changed by the gospel and he wants to share it accurately with others. We read, ‘... having followed all things closely for some time past, (it seemed good to me) to write an orderly account for you…’.
Fourth, Luke’s intent in writing this gospel was to increase certainty in the message that was being taught to others. Luke writes, ‘...to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.’
Luke 1:1-4 says, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”
Luke Lived In A Day When Many People Were Writing Narratives About Christ
What a time this must have been to be a Christian! Luke says that he lived in a day when, “Many people had undertaken to compile a narrative(story) of the things that have been accomplished among them.”
Because of Jesus’ birth, His life, His death His resurrection, and the giving of the Holy Spirit to those who repented and believed this gospel we see that there was a great deal of excitement about these things. Many people began to write accounts and compile narratives of all that had been accomplished. This was not done carelessly and flippantly, rather; it was done carefully and soberly. We are told that these people had undertaken this task and that they were careful as they compiled these narratives.
It is important for you and I to remember that Luke was living in a very secular and pagan society. There were many Christians who were suffering for their faith in Christ. Christians were being persecuted by the religious leaders and the secular communities that they lived in. As you well know, even within the churches there was a continual presence of false teachers who came in among the believers to twist, distort and changed the Good News. In other words, Luke lived in a society very much like our own day! And when you live under these conditions you may tend to get clinical, pessimistic, and focus only upon the bad.
Yet, from Luke’s perspective everything was not bad. If you were to ask Luke about what his perspective was he might surprise you. He would have told you that the gospel was spreading and Christianity was growing and the world was being turned upside down because of all the things that God was doing. Luke would have reported that religious people were being saved and the pagan’s and the secular cultures were being transformed by the gospel. He would have reported that there were many faithful people within the church who were preserving the truths that were entrusted to them.
We live in an increasingly secular culture. We also live in a time in which even some churches and entire denominations look and sound just like the unbelieving world. However, Luke reminds us that if we are careful to look in the right places and listen to the right people we will hear the Good News being preached. If we are being discerning to read the right things we will find that there are still many Christians who are being faithful to the message that has been recorded in Scripture and passed down for the last 2000 years.
Luke Lived In A Day When There Were Many Faithful Ministers And Eyewitnesses
We also see in these opening verses that these stories that were being written were seeking to record accurately the things that the eyewitnesses had seen and preached to others. Luke says, ‘... just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us…’.
If you read the New Testament you will quickly see that after died there immediately arose many who attempted to pervert the message concerning Christ. The gospel was always under attack. The church was always being assaulted. Because of this some people, perhaps even Theophilus, needed to have their confidence in what they had been taught strengthened.
These early believers quickly learned that the faith had to be rigorously defended and protected by believers. Because of this if you listened carefully you could see that there were many who were faithfully preaching, accurately testifying, and sincerely ministering the Word and they were passing it on to others.
Luke is reminding us that those who received this message were faithfully recording the message and preserving it for future generations. There are always lots of voices around us. Some are good and some are bad; but if you look in the right places you will always find a church who hold faithfully to the message.
This faithful message has been passed down for over 2000 years now by sincere faithful Christians who love the LORD. I know several faithful ministers who have recently retired. On the one hand, you hate to see these faithful and gifted ministers leave the ministry. On the other hand, all of these ministers are seeking to serve the LORD in new ways. Two of these ministers have decided that now they have the time to write books that will encourage others in the faith by passing on the things they have learned.
These ministers have spent decades faithfully serving the Lord and now God is opening the door for them to do this. Like Luke they have sought to follow all the things in Scripture closely for some time past and now they desire to write an orderly account of these things to help others in Christ.
Luke, Having Been Exposed To These Things Writes This Gospel
Luke admits that he is living during a time when there were faithful eyewitnesses preaching and faithful Christians testifying to these things. As a result, he could have made excuses as to why he did not need to write this gospel. He could have made an excuse and said that he was not as qualified as some of the others who were writing about Jesus and His ministry. He could have said that because of all these other books being written that there wasn’t a need for him to do it.
Luke, however, was not deterred or discouraged from writing this book. Luke listened to the faithful teaching of the eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ. He carefully engaged in his own research. He investigated and looked into these things. Luke made use of the materials, the testimonies, the preaching and all of the teaching concerning Jesus and sought to organize it into this book which would become part of our Cannon of Scripture.
When we consider our own day we can say with Luke that there are many who are preaching and writing things which seek to convey the Gospel. Moses would have loved to have lived among a generation of people who spoke by the Spirit about the things that God had done. Our kids learned of this last Sunday in Sunday School. Moses said, “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophet’s, and that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29) This reminds you and I to appreciate the Gospel when we hear it more around this particular season. We ought to pray that we will see these things happening more throughout the rest of the year!
Luke surround himself by those who had been eyewitnesses of Christ. Luke made it a personal priority to surrounded himself with other sincere and faithful Christians. He made it a priority to be a disciple of Christ and to disciple others in the faith. Have you committed yourself to these types of priorities?
We see in our passage that Luke had studied these things. We see that he had made a careful observation of the evidence and testimonies that others presented. He personally followed these teachings and found them to be trustworthy and true. As a result, he writes this gospel. We read, ‘... having followed all things closely for some time past, (it seemed good to me)to write an orderly account for you…’.
These qualities that we see in Luke ought to be said of you and I. We are to follow all of the teachings in Scripture closely. We are to be faithful over time and grow consistently in our understanding of Biblical truths. We are to mature in our ability to give an orderly and clear account of the Gospel to others when we speak of such things. When we do this we will not only increase in our own confidence in these things but we will help the confidence of others. This brings us to the fourth point.
Luke’s Intent Was To Promote Certainty About The Message Concerning Christ
Finally, we see that Luke researched and wrote this book with the intent that it would promote clarity, certainty and confidence concerning what the things that were being taught. Luke writes that he desired ‘to write an orderly account for...Theophilus, so that he would have certainty concerning the things that he had been taught.’
Notice that Luke was not seeking to teach anything new. He wanted to be faithful to promote certainty in Theophilus by teaching consistently the things that had already been taught to him. May we endeavor to do the same.
After Luke compiled this letter Luke gave it to a man named Theophilus. I suppose that Theophilus could have said, ‘There are a lot of books like this out there like this. This one is nothing special.’ Then Theophilus could have put it on a shelf and never read it. Or he could have put it on the coffee table for others to look at while he neglected it. So many people will do this after Christmas. The decorations come down, the Christmas music is put away, their bibles will remain closed until next year.
What a tragedy it would have been if Theophilus would have received this divinely inspired gift but then never read it, meditated upon it, believed its message, and then shared it with others. If he would have done this his name would now be synonymous with some of the most foolish people. Hopefully we will not be foolish. Hopefully we will not seek Christ only on these occasions and then walk away from Him for another year.
We know that Theophilus received this gift and treasured it. It would seem that after he received it from Luke that he read it, he kept it, he probably made copies of it to give to others. Little did Theophilus realize that this account of Jesus’ life would become a part of our Cannon of Scripture. He seems to have treasured this gift so much that Luke would soon give him another book that would be called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’ which is also in our bibles.
What an amazing gift this Gospel has turned out to be for all of us. As we come to this book to help us celebrate Christmas I hope that we will be inspired to read it more and that we will be confident in all the things that we have been taught. I hope that we will find ourselves surrounded by others who carefully observe what is in the Scriptures and therefore they can be confident in their reason to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Two thousand years later we have come here on this Christmas Eve to have this book nourish our soul, comfort our heart, and strengthen our faith as we consider the coming of Jesus Christ. As we read the Christmas stories in this book the Holy Spirit can give us great grace and peace as we consider Jesus Christ’s birth.
Selected Readings to be read by others with emphasis on their favorite concept from each section.