Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10
Thesis: Preserving and pondering the words of God are critical to life.
Introduction: As we have worked our way through Luke's record of the angelic visitation to the shepherds of Bethlehem, we have done something that finds its legitimacy in Luke's record of how various people responded to the divine message concerning Jesus, the Christ. The overall focus of Luke's record of "response" is upon the shepherds -- and their high, excited, joy. But, beneath that overall focus, there is a powerful suggestion that "high, excited, joy" is only a transient experience that is supposed to be coupled to a lifestyle of grace-based peace -- a peace that comes when human beings are highly motivated to respond to what God has said in a way that fits His words. This morning we are going to look at the foundations of life when "joy" is without its "sometimes attendant" excitement.
April 17, 2005
- I. The Angelic Army's Announcement Revisited.
- A. The thesis that "God is supposed to get the glory" is reiterated in Luke's final statement regarding the shepherds.
- 1. Men inherently recognize the untrustworthiness of glory-seekers: Matthew 22:16.
- 2. Jesus taught that glory-seekers could not be trusted: John 5:44.
- B. The thesis that "men are supposed to key on proper motivation" was established as the foundation of the experience of "peace".
- II. The Record of the Varied Responses in 2:18-20.
- A. There are three responses that move in ascending order in terms of excitement.
- 1. Those with the least excitement have three problems...
- a. They lack the "experience" of "angelic announcements".
- b. They don't know what to think.
- 1) On the one hand, they heard the amazing and persuasive story of the shepherds...first hand, second hand, third hand...etc.
- 2) On the other hand, "amazing stories" are not that hard to find in the "religious" realm.
- c. To actually find out the "truth" by their own experience, they will have to wait for years.
- 2. She who had the most detailed experience is not characterized as excited.
- a. When she got to Elizabeth's, she spoke of a high level of amazed joy at being a chosen vessel of God for a significant task.
- b. By the time the journey from Galilee and the birthing process were both over, it would be remarkable indeed to find her at any level of emotional excitement above "serene joy".
- 3. Those whose experience was both remarkable and fresh were the most excited of all.
- a. Clearly, both remarkable and fresh are the roots of the level of excitement that everyone knows "wears off".
- b. Just as clearly, an inordinate number of human beings "feed on" excitement as if it is the essence of life. Jesus cautioned against this in Luke 19:17 as the issue of divine approval is not faithfulness during the exciting times, but during the insignificant routine times.
- B. The three responses are deliberately focused upon "specific revelation".
- a. The "unexperienced" are involved by the "noise" (laleo).
- b. The most deeply experienced is caught up in the "specific words" (these hramata).
- c. The most excited are so because of the exact fulfillment in their experience of the specific words.
- C. The three responses can be viewed around the "shepherd" thesis.
- 1. The first and last responses are directly connected to the word "shepherds".
- 2. The middle response is focused upon Mary.
- 3. This sets up a chiastic arrangement that pushes "Mary's" response to the fore.
- III. The Issues Involved in Mary's Response.
- A. First, there is the issue of the Army's statement about men's motives.
- B. Second, there is the issue of the specificity of the revelation from God.
- 1. When God speaks, His "words" are often, if not always, extremely brief summaries of infinity.
- 2. When God speaks, His choice of "words" is "jot and tittle" specific and accurate.
- 3. When God speaks, He intends to head deception off at the pass.
- C. Third, there is the issue of "treasuring up" (NASB translation).
- 1. The word used is relatively rare, but it is consistently used in the New Testament when there is a significant danger that something is going to be irretrievably lost if proper action is not taken (Note Luke 5:38 and Mark 6:20).
- 2. The claim by Luke is that Mary took pains to make sure that she had "the words" accurately and permanently.
- 3. There is no point in telling us this if human beings can easily escape the problems of deception and loss of peace without accepting their responsibility in the matter.
- D. Fourth, there is the issue of "pondering".
- 1. The word is the second compounding of a normal verb (treasuring is the first) so that we understand the presence of an emphasis.
- 2. The word signals the process of bringing several things together to see how they fit (as with pieces of a puzzle).
- 3. The "location" of the process is "in the heart" as the place where the adjustments to motivation take place. The point: God is to get the glory and peace is to men of good will. This is a fundamental issue of the heart.
- IV. The Dangers Involved.
- A. There are three...
- 1. The arrogant dismissal of Mary's "process" (I have no need to get serious about the study of the "words" of God).
- 2. The whiny complaint that the process is too complicated (I have no wish to get serious about the study of the "words" of God).
- 3. The fleshly fearfulness that leads to obsessive self-dependence (I will take on my responsibilities by my resources and I will continually put both my credentials and my arguments before men so they can see the level of my "responsible action").
- B. They are met by "grace".
- 1. Grace is "given" when the proud humble themselves: 1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6.
- 2. Grace is "sufficient" for the complications: 1 Peter 4:10-11.
- 3. Grace is un-obsessively "committed" to God-dependence: Romans 9:6-8; Galatians 4:22-31.