11 December 2008

The Key to Luke

This week in a class at church we're looking at Luke, and I hope to show that the key to this Gospel is the surprising way, possible only in the cross ('he set his face toward Jerusalem'), outsiders become insiders and insiders outsiders. Scribes, Pharisees, lawyers, teachers of the law: out. Women, gentiles, lepers, tax collectors, younger sons: in. It's all over the place. In reading G. B. Caird's little commentary, I found this helpful section:

All [Jesus'] tenderness of heart and mastery of description are called into play as he presents to us the cavalcade of witnesses who can testify to the presence of the kingdom because they have discovered in Jesus the friend and champion of the sick, the poor, the penitent, the outcast, of women, Samaritans, and Gentiles. 'Blessed are you poor'; 'bring quickly the best robe'; 'this man went down to his house justified'; 'her sins, which are many, are forgiven'; 'salvation has come to this house'; 'he gave him to his mother'; 'ought not this woman . . . to be loosed from this bond'; 'he had compassion and bound up his wounds'; 'now he was a Samaritan'; 'not even in Israel have I found such faith.' (p. 37)

We'll be focusing on the deliberate contrast between Zechariah and Mary in Luke 1-2. Both have an angel appear to them and tell them they'll be having a kid shortly. Both have reason to be surprised, as Elizabeth, Zechariah's wife, is old, and Mary is a young virgin. But Zechariah responds in disbelief, and Mary with (puzzled) faith.

The surprise is that we would have bet on Zechariah to come through as the faith-filled one every day of the week and twice on Sunday: he was a man, married, and a priest (of the Aaronic line no less), a grizzled old saint and servant who had served God all his life. And the angel met his in the temple! Mary was a woman, young, and unmarried. On top of that, for Zechariah to have a kid would have been great news. For Mary to have a kid meant disgrace, as it would appear to be the result of immorality. The insider is out, the outsider is in.

Good news for Dane Ortlund--in my best moments, I see that I, in my sin, am an unmitigated outsider, turned, in Christ, to become an insider.


Ed said...

Great thoughts, Dane.

I've been preaching through Luke over the last 14 months or so, and love the insider/outsider theme. I also love the "good news of the Kingdom" theme, and have found it to be such a blessing to preach.

Thanks for the comments, and the tip about the commentary.

Dane Ortlund said...

Hi Ed, thanks!

Nicholas T. Batzig said...

Dane, I appreciate this post. I am preaching on Zachaeus tomorrow and this is the route I am going. I also agree that it is precisely because Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem that this is all possible. Praise God for befriending tax collectors and sinners in the Person of His Son!

Eric said...

Dane - Like everyone else, I'm preaching on Luke 1 this Sunday - so this is very helpful!