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Youth Ministiry Devo: An Orderly Christmas Story

By Barry Shafer | Posted Nov. 17, 2010 | November 16 2010

The Backdrop

It's usually near Christmas when we're likely to see top news magazines such as Time or Newsweek with cover stories about Jesus or the Christian faith. Eyeing one of these issues on a newsstand can give a believer an encouraging moment—glad to see Jesus getting some recognition in mainstream culture. Invariably, though, as readers leaf through such articles, they usually find that they're yet other pieces acknowledging that someone named "Jesus" walked the earth, then take some slant that strips Jesus of His status as God's Son.

We shouldn't be surprised. Questioning belief in Jesus as God's Son has been happening since the day Jesus was born.

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The Word

"Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:1-4).

The What

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the four books of the Bible that record Jesus' life, each having a specific rendition of Jesus' birth (except for Mark; he jumped right into Jesus' adult life). Luke's version of Jesus' birth is probably the most used and most famous with angels, shepherds and heavenly host singing, "Glory to God in the highest." A quick glance at the first few verses of Luke clues us into the fact that, as today, there were differing viewpoints about Jesus circulating when Luke penned his words.

As you read Luke 1:1-4, to help you hone in on the passage look for information that helps you answer these questions:

What can you tell about the information surrounding Jesus at that time?

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Why did Luke decide it was important to write an account?

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What tells you Luke has done his homework?

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What do these verses tell you about Theophilus?

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The So What

Your first question might be: Who is Theophilus? Good question. Other than here and the greeting in the Book of Acts (also written by Luke), Theophilus isn't mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. Going by his name and title, he's probably a Roman of high position. He may have been a partner to help Luke copy and disseminate his book—as if this was Luke's blog account.

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