Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Luke 1:67-80): So God must have spoken to Zechariah about who his son was and about for whom his son was preparing the way. How did John know all about Jesus?
A. Maybe, but it doesn’t say that explicitly. The Spirit was surely at work in this prophecy, one way or another. You mean how did the baby inside Elizabeth know about the baby inside Mary? I have no idea, but it appears there was some form of connection between them.
Q. (Luke 1:80): Why did John live in the wilderness?
A. There are multiple reasons possible, but there’s no evidence either way. He might have done so to be part of the Essene community we mentioned yesterday, which operated outside of standard Jewish society. He might have been something of a hermit who sought to escape society and be united with God. It might just have been where he was comfortable, or perhaps God called him to this spot. But that location will come into play in our story soon.
O. (2:7): Woohoo!
Q. (2:7, 12): I notice that Luke says twice that Jesus is wrapped snugly in strips of cloth. Why would “snugly” be important?
A. I have no clue. I have never seen it rendered that way, and there is no answer in the Greek (see for yourself: http://biblehub.com/text/luke/2-7.htm), so the translators are probably just using that phrasing so that the audience can follow the exact same phrase given to the shepherds later in the story.
Q. (2:9): I wonder why God chose to inform the shepherds of Jesus’s birth. Why not the priests or just townspeople?
A. That is certainly a question that has perplexed Biblical scholars for ages. God comes to those whose hearts are open to receive Him. He also seems to favor the least and the last, and these shepherds would have been at the bottom of Jewish society. The answer might also lie in what they were doing: keeping sheep, and lambs specifically. The pastures outside of Bethlehem were the main area for raising the lambs that would be used in sacrifices at Passover. That would certainly be in keeping with what Jesus was to us: the Lamb of God sacrificed in our place. Perhaps that has something to do with it.
Q. (2:19): What does it mean by “Mary kept all these things in her heart?” Just Jesus being born and all the glory around it?
A. This is one of the lines that has me convinced that Luke interviewed Mary as part of his process of compiling this gospel. Other translations render this “treasured,” which I think hits the nail on the head: Mary was completely blessed and overwhelmed by what was happening, including how greatly that God had blessed her.
Q. (2:25-35): What is the purpose of Simeon — just to validate who Jesus is?
A. Once again, likely a story included because Luke asked Mary about the story of Jesus being presented in the Temple. Don’t forget Luke is the outsiders’ Gospel. The story of an old man and a prophetess (Anna, my oldest daughter’s middle name, means “a gracious woman”), rather than, say, the High Priest speaking this prophecy would certainly point to God using those outside the religious establishment to bless Mary and Joseph. Note what Simeon is saying: that this child will reunite Jew and Gentile, and provide salvation to the whole world, not just Israel. That is an amazing thought, and sure worth including!