More Mercy, More Party

I've started reading through Luke. The first chapter starts with a thesis statement, covers some confusion (that's what happens when angels show up!) and ends with a party.

The thesis statement is clear enough: Luke explains what he will write about, how he gathered his evidence and why he is writing.

The confusion is also clear. When an angel shows up and tells an old man that his barren wife will have a baby, he struggles to believe. He argues - and is rebuked. Likewise, when the same angel greets a young, unmarried woman (who has never been with a man) and tells her that she will have a child, she also struggles to understand. Their struggles are different, and the outcome is both comic and telling.

The party, however, takes a little time to develop. The first hint come in the first verse, when Luke uses the word "fulfilled" to describe the events he will write about. It's a good word! A fulfilled order, a fulfilled wish, a fulfilling experience - they all mean something very good has just happened. The second hint comes in the middle of the first angel visit. The promised baby will bring "joy and gladness," not just to the couple, but to many (verse 14), but the soon-to-be father's confused response puts the party on hold.

All this delay changes, however, with the young woman. She too, struggles to understand, but, in the end, submits to whatever God has in store for her (verse 38). She quickly travels out to see the older, now pregnant woman (who happens to be a relative) and together the celebrate! There is no comparing, no jealously, just joy for each other and praise for God. Their celebration spills out into the neighborhood as people recognize God's increased a mercy to the older woman, and they rejoice with her (verses 57-58). The word used here has no equivalent in English but is related to "sympathy," only this time, instead of pathos, the listener in the conversation shares joy. Together, they share the joy of one family's long hopes and the hints this baby brings about the fulfillment of a nation's dreams.

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