A new calendar year with a connotation of 2020 vision calls to see Luke’s message for our community.
If I were a betting man, I would put money on the title “2020 Vision” being used by a lot of preachers this past week. The title writes itself. The real question, though, is how many different passages were assaulted with the title?
I will confess, I looked at Acts 20:20, “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,” specifically because of the verse number. It felt very cheesy, but I could have done worse.
I’m talking about YOU, Leviticus 20:20!
2020 in the Clear
As I looked at Acts 20:20, though, I couldn’t help but see a message we needed to hear and one that worked with the direction already chosen for the coming year.
I’ve felt the need for some time now to preach through a Gospel in 2020. But which one to choose? A few months ago, I asked my leadership and a few others in our congregation to pray about next year’s sermons. I gave them a list of the four Gospels, highlighting a few features of each:
- Presents Jesus as the New Moses and his message as the new Torah
- Emphasizes Jesus as fulfilling the promises/prophecies of the Messiah
- Contains the Sermon on the Mount (which I’m probably going to preach at some point anyway)
- Written to Roman Christians facing persecution. Their society was turned against them.
- Mark reminds them of Jesus’ authority over everything.
- Fast-paced Gospel (also the shortest). Most things happen “immediately” in Mark.
- An “orderly” Gospel, Luke wants to get the story straight.
- Luke’s Gospel focuses on the poor, women, and the disenfranchised.
- Most of Luke’s action takes place out of the cities.
- Luke often focuses on the cost of following Jesus
- Focuses on the eternal Jesus. John’s Gospel doesn’t begin with Jesus’ birth, but before creation itself.
- John’s goal is that his readers might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:21)
- Every chapter contains an “I Am” statement about Jesus.
The majority of those I asked to pray came back telling me they felt we needed to hear from the Gospel of Luke. Our small community, with high poverty and low self-esteem, needs to hear that the good news of Jesus Christ is for them. Our church needs to be reminded that no one is so small that they have escaped God’s attention.
Paul’s words to the Ephesian Elders
We began 2019 with a series through Ephesians. It seemed fitting to end the year with Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders. In my mind, these words function as a summation of the message of Luke/Acts and a call to the reader to hold firmly to the gospel no matter the struggle ahead.
You can hear Paul’s confidence in this passage. He is absolutely certain of his character and his certainty about his past empowers where he knew he had to go in the future–no matter how difficult the journey would be. I saw the opportunity to use Paul’s confidence as a challenge for where the good news of Jesus would take us in the coming year.
Moving Ahead in 2020
Moving on to 2020, I will be taking our church through Luke’s Gospel, specifically viewing Jesus’ interactions with the people he encounters on the way to Jerusalem. I intend to take a few detours, likely through the Sermon on the Plain, his teaching on prayer in chapter 11, and–since it was the subject of my final paper for my master’s degree, the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (I have to make sure that paper was worth my effort)
I’ll be using the resources of David E. Garland’s Exegetical Commentary, Joel B. Green’s New International Commentary, and Darrell L. Bock’s NIV Application Commentary. Additionally, I’m looking forward to digging into Tim Chester’s A Meal with Jesus, focusing on table fellowship in Luke’s Gospel.
Having just come through Advent, I’m not going to rehash Luke’s Christmas story. It’s not just about the change of season, I already covered Luke’s look at Christmas a few years ago in a series called Unpacking Christmas. But, I cannot help but think of Mary’s Magnificat as we look ahead to our series through Luke:
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
5he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty. (Luke 1:52-53)
Our community knows what it means to be of humble estate. Too many among us know what it means to be hungry. Our prayer is that through Luke’s Gospel, we might know that God’s promise of help flows through his Son and through his church.