Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 9
Thesis: Once confirmed, the message of great joy was automatically promoted so that others had to deal with it.
Introduction: In our studies of the angelic visitation to shepherds in the pastures of Bethlehem, we have seen that the text naturally divides into two parts. The first part is the focus upon the message which the angels declared. The second part is the focus upon the shepherds' reaction. When we look at the message, we find it under the broad canopy of "great joy". When we look at the reaction, we find it under the broad canopy of "fulfillment". We spent weeks and weeks looking into the details of the Message. Then, last week, we began looking at the Fulfillment. The statement of 2:20 is the statement of the Fulfillment. The statements of 2:15-19 are the necessary "details". We are currently involved in examining those "details". Our examination has one ultimate objective: to discover how to experience the same Fulfillment for ourselves that the shepherds experienced for themselves. God's goal for us is "Life". So far, we have seen that Luke deliberately reiterated some basic issues. He continued to "beat the drum" of incremental development -- Life becomes ours by the processes involved in the renewal of our minds. And, he continued to "beat the drum" of the truthfulness of Truth -- the renewal of our minds only occurs when what God has said begins to drive what we do. Until what has been said actually begins to dominate what we do, there is no "Fulfillment". That's why Fulfillment is in 2:20, not 2:15.
This morning, we are going to look into the dominion that God's words exercised over the shepherds to see what we can see about getting the shepherds' experience to be ours.
April 10, 2005
- I. The "Hasty Discovery".
- A. There are two deliberate indicators that Luke wanted Theophilus to "get into" the shepherds' response.
- 1. The focus upon "haste".
- a. The verb means "to jump a type of behavior up to dominate concern".
- 1) The picture is of a person, in the context of his "love/faith" system, deciding that "because this has become enormously important, I am going to do this".
- 2) It is the transcending value of the first "this", and the conviction of the work-ability of the second "this", that is suddenly in the driver's seat with a sense of urgency.
- b. That Luke told about this sense of urgency, signals his conviction that if Theophilus wants to "live", he is going to have to share that urgency.
- 1) "Life" isn't about "going with the flow"; it is about buying into the values and truths which God has made known.
- a) The Message is of "Great Joy": is that valuable to you?
- b) The record is of shepherds who "jumped on the pursuit of that Joy" by "getting hasty": is that method going to be yours?
- 2. The focus upon "discovery".
- a. There is a typical word in the New Testament for "to find".
- b. The word Luke chose to use is an intensified form of that typical word that only he used in the New Testament and he only used it twice.
- 1) The significance of this is this: Luke knew that when Theophilus linked "haste" with "intense searching", he would understand that a certain level of "joy-sustaining" conviction had developed in the shepherds' hearts and minds.
- a) If Theophilus concluded that the shepherds' reaction was a pattern that exists in the experience of great joy, he would naturally be inclined to see if he could duplicate the pattern.
- b) If Theophilus missed the signals built into the "hasty discovery", the result would be that "experience with diminished/nonexistent joy" would continue.
- 2) The point is that the specific words of God addressed, in the shepherds, a longing and a conviction that would yield the Joy.
- a) This is the pattern behind Jesus' teaching that man lives by every utterance of God.
- b) Whenever the utterances do not find the necessary longing nor the necessary conviction, the experience of the person addressed remains joyless.
- II. The "Wondering" of Those Who Heard.
- A. With the description of the response of those in the down-line chain of "responders" (the angels "heard" it from God; the shepherds "heard" it from the angels; those whom the shepherds told, obviously "heard" it from them -- a down-line chain) Luke continues to focus upon the issue of "how important is this?" and "do you believe what you are hearing?".
- 1. Luke uses the concept of "wonder" multiple times in his record.
- 2. His point is that "wonder" automatically signals both interest and non-understanding.
- a. In this setting, the interest focuses upon the exuberant joy of the message and the fulfillment.
- b. In this setting, the non-understanding focuses upon the "baby in the manger".
- 1) This continues to this day: most folks simply do not understand Jesus as the Bread of Life.
- 2) The bottom line also continues to this day: understanding comes from eating.
- 3. Interest involves the presence of value; non-understanding involves the absence of conviction.
- 4. Luke's point is a question: If great joy is important to you, are you willing to let your questions move you into the pursuit (the "hasty discovery")?
- B. With the description of the response of those in that down-line chain, Luke automatically points to its cause.
- 1. The cause is given as "the inevitable outflow of Fulfillment".
- a. The shepherds had gone into "hyper-drive" because of their own longing and confidence.
- b. When their eyes beheld the reality, their mouths had gone into "hyper-drive" because of Fulfillment.
- 1) They felt no "necessity to witness".
- 2) They simply exuded Fulfillment in the midst of their "contacts-setting".
- 2. The cause is simple: what was desired was discovered by pursuit and everyone around was then exposed to Fulfillment and then they had to respond.
- a. In this case, the response was positive.
- b. That is not the standard norm: Jesus taught four different "norms" in His parable of the soils.
- III. The Issues We Face.
- A. We are obviously in the down-line chain.
- B. We are obviously heavily involved in enormous deceptions that have been put in place incrementally over 2,000 years.
- C. We, however, are also obviously the same kind of humanity as those of the first century.
- D. The questions remain the same: is Great Joy important to you? Do the words of God ring true to you?