Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: When the creature is in rebellion, God uses his own actions to accomplish the very thing of which he is most afraid.
Introduction: Today we mark a major milestone: we begin the study of a new chapter of Luke's record of his perspective of Jesus. The first 40 verses of this new chapter are focused upon Luke's record of the birth of the Son of the Most High. In one sense, this is not a new chapter, for Luke's literary structure does not allow it to be cut off from what he intended to be a developing pattern. If we really wanted to keep Luke's structure in place, chapter one would end at 2:40 because that is where the pattern takes us.
But, literary structure issues aside, this morning we are being launched upon an extended study regarding those things that are really biblically and theologically important in terms of what we now call "the Christmas season". This study is liable to take us well into 2005 if the Lord wills.
For this morning, we are going to consider Luke's words to Theophilus regarding the mouse who wished to be considered an elephant. What we are going to see is that as long as a mouse refuses to accept his identity as a mouse he cannot succeed in any sense of the meaning of the word "succeed".
December 12, 2004
- I. The Setting of "Success".
- A. The "formula" of 2:1.
- 1. Is first found in 1:5.
- 2. Retains its meaning: Yahweh, Sovereign Executor of Power, retains the final say as to what will "come about".
- 3. Retains its "formulaic" significance: Yahweh, Truth-Speaker, will do whatever it takes to establish His words as Truth and to demolish everything that is a lie.
- B. The fact that it is in "history" that all of the seeds of "success" and "failure" are sown.
- 1. It is within "history" that all things "come about".
- 2. It is within "history" that all things are sifted so that those things which "come about" are proven to be what they are: illusion or reality.
- II. The Definitions of "Success".
- A. The true definition of "success".
- 1. Luke 1 tells us that "success" has its ultimate definition in the final days of history.
- a. There we are told of Zacharias' struggle in dealing with "illusion" and "reality" as his experiences tossed him about for the vast majority of his "history".
- b. There we are told that, in the final days of "history", the measure of "success" will be whether one gets to be a participant in the fulfillment of the words of God.
- 2. Luke 1 tells us that "success" has its ultimate impact in producing exultant joy.
- a. In the microcosm of Zacharias' experience as a type of all of history, the last we see of Zacharias is the exultant outburst of joyful praise as he finally "gets it".
- 1) Illusion is finally dismissed (present experience does not determine Truth).
- 2) Reality is finally embraced (revelation determines Truth and time will ultimately be the stage upon which it is displayed).
- b. In the revelation of the words of inspired Truth as they burst from the lips of the exultant rejoicer, "joy comes in the morning" -- i.e., when the "anatolh" of the Son occurs, joy is the experience of those who have embraced the Truth.
- 3. Thus, the true meaning of "success" is having the joy of the fulfillment of every legitimate desire.
- B. The "illusional" definition of "success".
- 1. Luke 2:1 tells us how the creatures of rebellion define success in terms of the power to force others into compliance.
- a. We get "creature of rebellion" from the reality of Caesar's self-deification.
- b. We get "the power to force others into compliance" from "decree".
- 1) A "decree" is a dogmatic demand that assumes its own "rightness".
- 2) A "decree" is a dogmatic demand that contains the very real threat of the use of available power to enforce it.
- c. We get "illusional" from the fact that threat-enforced compliance is not true compliance -- thus "illusional".
- 1) Everywhere Rome went, compliance only followed the use or threat of force.
- 2) Everywhere Rome ruled, periodic outbursts of rebellion occured.
- 2. Luke 2:1 tells us how the creatures of rebellion define success in "relative" terms.
- a. Caesar issued his "decree" upon "the whole world".
- b. The lesser "caesars" typically reach as far as they can, and lust after greater success down the road.
- 1) All of humanity, outside of Christ, are "caesars"..."seizers".
- 2) Most of humanity in Christ are Zachariah-like "caesars" also due to the failure of perception.
- c. The "illusion" exists because the final kingdom is so inalterably opposed to "seizing" that no one will be permitted to enter it who retains the mindset of a "caesar".
- 3. Luke 2:1 tells us how the creatures of rebellion define success by rejection of the Truth.
- a. The name/title "Caesar" has an interesting background.
- 1) There is much speculation as to the etymology.
- 2) There is no doubt as to the effectual meaning: king of kings.
- 3) The illustration from Rome's conflict with Hannibal serves...the elephant slayer becomes known as "Elephant" (the meaning of "caesar" in that day and setting).
- b. The name/title "Augustus" is not so interesting.
- 1) The meaning has to do with being "the most superior".
- 2) The connection with "Caesar" is immistakably "the most high king of kings".
- c. The Point: the mouse (in reality) wanted to be known as the elephant (a total illusion).
- 1) This is a total rejection of identity-reality.
- 2) The irony is that the "decree" set the wheels in motion for the fulfillment of the triumph of the true Most High King of Kings.
- III. The Significance of "Success".
- A. If we refuse to embrace real success, we must know that "as things come about, the seeds of our own destruction will be sown by our own hands".
- B. If we genuinely wish to be filled with joy in the eschaton, we must learn to...
- 1. Define reality by the words of God.
- 2. Embrace the reality that "power" over circumstances and people is a formula for failure as an illusional method of success.
- 3. Stop trying to escape our identity as the creatures of God.