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Immerse: Messiah, Week 1, Day 1

Putting the Pieces Together

I love a good criminal mystery. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be a Star Wars fan, and when I grow up I want to be as cool as super spy turned normal every day guy Jason Bourne, but if I stumble across a good criminal mystery, you’ve got me hooked for the next 45 minutes.
The cloudy mystery becomes ever more clear one piece at a time.  I love how the story plays out and the evidence slowly begins to reveal itself. Suspect after suspect is questioned; some are held, while others released.  Physical evidence is gathered. Modern science has even made its way into the solving of many crimes with DNA data and other ways to uncover previously hidden clues from the naked eye. Sometimes the clues come together quickly, and the case is easily solved. While other times, crimes go unsolved for extended lengths of time (which makes you have to watch the entire season of a show just so you can see the final resolution of the unsolved episodes!!). At the end, most of the time the investigator gets their man (or woman), and the case is solved. Justice is served.

As we begin to dive into our Immerse Bible reading program (see what I did there?!?!) together, we start out with the Gospel of Luke.  While we journey together through Luke, I think it is important for us to remember this is only the first part of the story, and the first of two volumes. Its companion edition, Acts, is also addressed to Theophilus, thus making it a complete set. Put these two books together and you have a complete picture of God’s establishment of His Kingdom through Christ and the role man will play in its expansion and endurance through the lives of men like Peter, Paul, John, Timothy, Silas and more.  Some of these characters appear in both volumes, while others only in one or the other. Either way, they all play pivotal roles in God fulfilling His plans here on earth.

So as you read through the Gospel of Luke these first two weeks, I encourage you to go back and read the opening introductory paragraph found on page three each day. Remind yourself of three key phrases Luke uses to help “solve the mystery” of the correct retelling of the life of Christ and the establishment of the church.

First he mentions the “eyewitness report from the early disciples.”  Everyone knows that a good, reliable eyewitness is a sure thing in a mystery.  If you can find someone who is stable minded and can clearly recall what occurred, the picture will quickly become clear. Luke makes mention of those prior to him doing this and implies that he, too, has made use of them. Remember, these are not merely the ramblings of a Gentile doctor looking to make a few bucks by writing a revisionist history of events.  He is a man of precision who goes to every extreme to make sure the story is correct.

Next, he mentions how he has carefully investigated everything from the beginning.  You may be thinking, “How so?”  Well, it is likely Luke spent much time in Jerusalem and was able to talk with many notable individuals who not only witnessed the events, but were firsthand participants. It is likely that Luke spent time with Mary and some of the women. He even was likely able to sit down and talk with other disciples who spent those amazing three plus years with Jesus.  He had some great evidence which he was able to gather through careful investigation.  This was not a summary of events, but rather a precise and detailed account of the life of Christ.

Finally, he mentions how he hopes to write an “accurate account” for Theophilus.  Tradition tells us Theophilus could have been a Roman official or government leader. In other words, a high ranking Gentile who was likely wrestling with various ideas about who Jesus was.  He had likely heard of Jesus and likely came across some conflicting accounts (haven’t you ever heard the same story told by two different people from two different perspectives? Rarely do those two explanations match!). Luke, in a desire to get the entire, accurate and complete truth into the hands of Theophilus, takes on this task so “you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.”

Read this not as a story you’ve heard maybe a hundred times before. Read it as a puzzle you are trying to piece together. You have all the pieces in front of you, and you’ll slowly start to piece them together, but be patient. In the end, you’ll see a complete picture of the love of God through Jesus Christ for all mankind.

So, set up your card table (or wherever you do your best puzzles) and start sorting the pieces as you read through the Gospel of Luke. Enjoy the journey. Revisit the highlights of your favorite stories of the Messiah. Uncover things you may have overlooked twenty-seven times.  Immerse yourself in God’s rescue story and the mystery that is Christ!

- Pete Ramsey