Welcome to Week 26 of the Higher Hope Church 2018 New Testament Reading Plan! If you haven’t already, go pick up your 5x5x5 Reading Plan and join our private Facebook group for daily interaction and discussion. This week we finished up Colossians, stopped into the Book of Philemon, and started our journey into the Gospel of Luke.
Paul ends the book with an encouragement to prayer. He asks the Colossians to pray for him, too, that he will be able to proclaim the Good News of Christ clearly. He tells them to live wisely among non believers and to remember his chains.
Paul was writing a private letter to his brother in Christ, Philemon, to ask him a favor. Philemon’s slave Onesimus had left and made his way to Rome where he encountered Paul and accepted the Good News of Christ. Paul is sending Onesimus back as a brother in the Lord. Paul is asking that Philemon accept him and welcome him and if anything is owed, then Paul will repay it.
Luke begins with the angel Gabriel visiting both Zechariah and Mary and telling them of the upcoming births of their sons. To Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist would be born who will prepare the way for Jesus. Mary would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and give birth to Jesus, the Son of God.
The Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus declared a census so Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem in Judea. While they were there, the child was born. Nearby shepherds were visited by an angel announcing the Messiah’s birth so they traveled to Bethlehem to see the Savior. After seeing him, they told everyone what happened and what the angels had said. Eight days later, the baby was circumcised and given the name Jesus. When He was dedicated to the Lord, Simeon prophesied that Jesus would cause some in Israel to fall but He would also be a joy to many others; many would also oppose Him. Anna, a widow who stayed in the Temple day and night worshiping God, praised the Lord as Simeon was talking to Mary and Joseph. She talked about Jesus to everyone who has been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
At the end of this chapter, we see a glimpse of Jesus at age 12, sitting among the religious teachers and listening to them, asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. Jesus continued to grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and the people.
A message from God came to John the Baptist who was living in the wilderness. John traveled on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should repent of their sins, turn to God to be forgiven, and be baptized. This fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3-5. The crowds thought he might be the Messiah but John declared that someone is coming soon who is greater than he is, who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
One day, Jesus came to be baptized by John and as He praying the heavens opened up and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on Him like a dove and a voice from Heaven declared, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
This chapter ends with a record of the genealogy of Jesus. Jesus was about 30 years old when He began his public ministry.
Have a great week!