Until I went to Israel earlier this year, I had very little feel for the the topography and geography of the Holy Land, which is funny, because now that I have eyes to notice, I see topographical and geographical details everywhere in the Bible. (Which, by the way, is a strong argument in favor of the trustworthiness of scripture–you couldn’t make all these little details up.)

Today’s account in Luke contains a great example of the kind of topographical detail I previously overlooked. I was astounded when I was standing on the cliff that overlooks Nazareth and realized that this is where Luke tells is that the townspeople of Nazareth tried to kill Jesus.

Here are some pictures:

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 4:14-30


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Each of the devil’s temptations is about receiving something legitimate but in an illegitimate way.

  • Jesus is hungry–food is a legitimate need;
  • Jesus is Lord–having the authority and splendor of the world’s kingdoms is his right;
  • Jesus is Messiah–it is right that all the people in Jerusalem see his power.

The problem is that each of those legitimate ends can only come through suffering, and this is the temptation that the devil puts before Jesus: have what you need or what is rightfully yours, but have it without suffering for it.

Remember, though, that it’s Cross before Crown.

What temptations are you facing today?

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 4:1-13


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Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus; as Luke has already told us, Mary miraculously conceived. So, why does Luke give us Joseph’s genealogy? Because he was born into Joseph’s family, and raised as Joseph’s son.

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 3:21-38


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Stone Children

by Andrew Forrest

John the Baptist really lets the Jews who have come out to be baptized by him in the River Jordan have it:

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Luke 3:7-9

Apparently, there were Jews who thought that just because they were descended from Abraham (i.e., ethnically Jewish), then they could live however they want: their status as the covenant people wouldn’t be in question.

John’s point is that it’s not enough to self-righteously claim your spiritual status: you have to actually live like it by “producing fruit” that comes from repentance (v.8).

Not that this is a relevant message for us, right?

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 3:1-20


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Boy Jesus

by Andrew Forrest

The account Luke gives us of 12 year-old Jesus in the Temple is the only account we have of Jesus as a boy. Slow down and read it again–it is such a human story. Can’t you just see Mary and Joseph’s growing panic and exasperation when they realize they’ve left their eldest son behind in Jerusalem?

(By the way, it seems likely that Mary was one of Luke’s eyewitness sources. Look at the times Luke tells us that Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.” Each of the strange occurrences of Jesus’s childhood was remembered by Mary and pondered over years afterward.)

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 2:41-52


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Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple as a newborn and made a sacrifice of 2 birds. Why is this significant? Because as explained in Leviticus 12:6-8, if you can afford it, the appropriate sacrifice after the birth of a firstborn child is a lamb. But, if you can’t afford a lamb, then 2 doves or pigeons is acceptable.

What does it mean that when the Savior came, he came to a poor family?

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 2:22-40


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Apparently, shepherding was not a reputable occupation at the time of Jesus: shepherds were considered shifty, filthy, and not respectable. Guess who were the first people to be told of the birth of Jesus? Shepherds.

When Jesus shows up, the nobodies are included.

To whom do you need to reach out today?

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 2:1-21


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John Wild

by Andrew Forrest

Just like Elijah in the Old Testament, John the Baptist lives in the wilderness until he begins his ministry (Luke 1:80). Why is that detail important? Because Luke is showing us that the Gospel is the continuation of Israel’s story–God made promises to Abraham, and he is fulfilling them through Jesus.

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 1:57-80


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Mary understands that the baby she bears is God’s fulfilled promise to Israel. Reflecting on her pregnancy, she sings:

He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Luke 1:54-55

How does the Old Testament connect with the New? Through Jesus. Jesus is the answer to all of God’s promises to Israel, and so the New Testament is part 2 of Israel’s story, in which God moves to bless the entire world, both Jew and Gentile.

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 1:39-56


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Contrast Mary’s reaction to the angel Gabriel with Zechariah’s reaction:

When the angel comes to Zechariah, Zechariah is hesitant to trust God’s word;

When the angel comes to Mary, Mary says–in effect–“Okay, I’ll do it.”

Sometimes it’s just that simple.

Today’s Scripture:

Luke 1:26-38


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