Reflection on Luke 1

“Because of God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79

I’ve been thinking all week about Luke 1, the beginning of the Gospel story as Luke reports it.

Luke hits the ground running and we have to run with him to keep up with all that is about to unfold. Theophilus is named at the outset. Is this a friend of Luke’s, a person of means, an eyewitness? Has he been captured by the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that he wants to be a part of all that is to come?

Luke acknowledges at the outset of the Gospel that many people have already been at work in compiling the events that have “been fulfilled among us.” What is important, though, is that Theophilus understands that this is a reliable account. So that he can trust that what he has been taught is in fact, trustworthy.

Luke points to the work of the Holy Spirit through Zechariah, the birth of John the Baptist, and then Mary.

If we are to take this prophesy seriously, and I trust that we do, we can not ignore this word from that Mary offers:

Holy is his name.
He shows mercy to everyone from one generation to the next, who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty handed.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,remembering his mercy.

What is to follow in Luke’s Gospel is this theme of the movement of the Holy Spirit which will come to be demonstrated in a powerful fashion in the Book of Acts. For now, it is clear. This One to whom Luke is pointing has a particular concern. This One is Holy and when worshipped and honored, mercy will be shown. In following this Savior there will be no room for arrogance, prideful inclinations or petty politics.

And this One will bear witness to God’s deep compassion(with passion) and great light to be shown in the darkest of places, so that we will find ourselves living in deep peace.

At the outset of a new year, may this word dwell richly within each of us.

12 Comments on “Reflection on Luke 1”

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  7. Scripture:
    Luke 1:46-56
    Common English Bible (CEB)
    Mary’s Song of Praise to God
    46 Mary said,
    “With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
    47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
    48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
    Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored

    Holy is his name.
    50 He shows mercy to everyone,
    from one generation to the next,
    who honors him as God.
    51 He has shown strength with his arm.
    He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
    52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
    and lifted up the lowly.
    53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away empty-handed.
    54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
    remembering his mercy,
    55 just as he promised to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”
    56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her home.

    This is one of four hymns preserved in Luke 1-2. This hymn of praise is known as the Magnificat because in the Latin Vulgate translation the opening word is Magnificat, which means “glorifies.” I have highlighted verse 53 which refers to “the hungry.” I would assume this might refer to both the physically and spiritually hungry, but for my purposes I want to focus on the importance of being spiritually hungry.
    From the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
    And from John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty.”

    For several years, I have been intentional about asking God to make me hungry: hungry for relationship with God, hungry for knowing the very heart of God, hungry for knowing God’s will and purpose for my life, hungry for seeing God’s hand in the living of my life each day.
    If we are to remain open, aware and available to the purposes to which God has called us, I am convinced our constant prayer must be for God to make us hungry.

    Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer. Give me an unquenchable hunger to know you. Keep me hungry to know all those things that break your heart, especially those things I may do or fail to do that break your heart. Keep me hungry for relationship with you, so that I may know your will and call for my life. Keep me hungry to stay close to you, so that I may feel your love even as I may feel the very beat of your heart. Keep me hungry to see you in my life and in the lives of others each day. Most of all, keep me hungry to share my first-hand witness of your love with the least, the last and the lost.
    In Christ name I pray. Amen

  8. John Engelland says:

    A beautiful interpretation of a beautiful, exciting part of the Bible. Like many Christians, I share Vida’s concerns, posted above. However, praying is not nothing!

  9. Vida McClure says:

    I hesitate to comment b/c I know I do not have the training and education of most of those who will follow this blog. I read verses 50-55 three times and I realize those things did happen but as I look at the world today, I can’t help but wonder what is this saying to us today, Even devoted Christians, especially in other countries, are suffering and hungry – When will they be filled; when will their needs be met? In heaven? But what about now? That troubles me; however, apparently not enough as I seem to simply say: “How sad” and then fold my hands in prayer with Amen. God help me/us.

    • John Engelland says:

      Vida, I share your concerns, and praise you for your loving heart. I’m no expert, either, but sometimes find comfort in remembering that God’s ways are ultimately unknowable, and we have to “trust and obey”.
      God help me/us… Amen!

  10. James Ellington says:

    Amen! Love to get your wonderful interpretation. Keep it up.

  11. revgabriel says: