Thursday, December 23, 2010

Naming Names

It's remarkable just how many names Luke drops in his two opening chapters (and 3.1). And they mean everything for his message. Jesus comes not just to earth but to people. To peoples. To names.

He comes for Jews, the children of Israel, of Levi (Zechariah and Elizabeth), Judah (Mary and Joseph), Asher (Anna) and all tribes, for high priest (Annas and Caiaphas), Levitical priest, religious teacher, prophet and prophetess, poor couple, marginal shepherds. For every position, for every vocation, for every pedigree, he comes.

He comes for the Gentiles, the wealthy (Theophilus), accomplished physician (Luke), wicked centers of political power from Herod to Caesar Augustus, in Judea, Galilee, Ituraea, Trachonitis, Abilene, Syria, and Rome and all “those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” For every race, for every evil, he comes.

And Luke names Jesus’ predecessors too. He comes as the Son of God, the bearer of the Spirit, the One heralded by angels, “Christ the Lord” has come preceded by the Prophet Elijah’s spirit and power, fulfilling the Law and Priesthood of Moses and Aaron, securing the Promise of Abraham and Jacob, and taking the Kingly throne of David to accomplish “good news of a great joy that will be for all the people,” forever and ever.