Reading through the Bible together

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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Years before the first space shuttle flight, I visited its launch facility at Kennedy Space Center.  There, a planning calendar for the space shuttle mission covered an entire wall of a large control room.  Under each date listed across the top of the calendar’s timeline were tasks to be completed by that time.  A red ribbon hanging from top showed where we were in the countdown to the first shuttle launch. 

Imagine a heavenly planning calendar hanging before God’s throne, listing all the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.  One entry must have read, “Have Caesar Augustus declare ‘that all the world should be registered. (Luke 2:1)’” God timed every detail of Caesar’s census so that Joseph and Mary would arrive in their ancestral home, Bethlehem, just in time for Jesus’ birth: “while they were there, the days were completed for her to deliver her first born son” (Luke 1:6,7).   

Like a good storyteller, Luke does not tell us the significance of Jesus’ birth, he lets an angel of the Lord tell a group of nearby shepherds the good news that “there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10, 11).  The angel deliberately builds up expectations:  The birth of a Savior is “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people (Luke 2:10).  Suddenly, as though they can’t keep silent any longer, a multitude of angels appear, saying:  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). 

Every Bible passage contains some truth about God which is good news for you and me.  That’s the most basic meaning of the word Gospel.  The Gospel is good news about what God has done, is doing, or will do for us.  The good news in Luke 2 is for you and me today. The Baby born in Bethlehem is our Savior, Christ the Lord! 

Every Bible promise is the good news as it tells us about what God will accomplish. The purpose of Jesus’ birth according to the multitude of angels, was to bring us peace. To experience Jesus’ peace, you need to accept the angel’s words to the shepherds as a personal invitation to accept Jesus as your Savior.  And as our 21st century world seems to spin out of control, we need to believe that God has a planning calendar for Jesus’ Second Advent that is being fulfilled as precisely as was the calendar for Jesus’ first Advent.  And like the shepherds, we  need to wait expectantly until the angels announce Jesus’ Coming.

Douglas Jacobs, D.Min.

Professor of Church Ministry and Homiletics

School of Religion, Southern Adventist University