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No. 90: Beginning and New Beginning in Luke

BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 90
December, 1996
Copyright 1996 Biblical Horizons

Although the events are, of course, not perfectly parallel, Luke in his gospel intends us to connect Jesus’ birth from the womb and His re-birth from the tomb.

Luke 1:27 introduces us to Joseph and in verse 30 we learn that his betrothed wife was named Mary. An angel appeared to Mary and she was afraid, but the angel comforted her with the news that she would bear the world’s Messiah (1:29-31). Luke knows we have already read Matthew, and so while he does not mention that initially Joseph did not believe Mary’s report, he knows we already know it from Matthew.

The resurrection as recorded by Luke follows the same sequence. First we are told that a man named Joseph saw to Jesus’ burial (23:50-53). They we read that two women named Mary came to the tomb, saw angels, and were afraid (24:1-5). The angels comforted them with the news that the Messiah had risen (24:5-8). But the disciples did not believe them (24:9-11).

Other parallels are also clearly set out. In Luke 2:7, Mary gives birth to Jesus and wraps Him in cloths. This is in a lowly manger, because there was no room in the inn. In 24:50-54, Joseph wraps the body of Jesus in a linen cloth and puts Him in an expensive tomb, because He had no other. There is parallel and contrast: Mere cloth becomes linen, and a manger becomes an aristocratic tomb.

Angels appear to shepherds in Luke 2:8-20, and tell them to look for a baby wrapped in cloths in a manger. The next event in Luke 24 is parallel: In verse 12 (assuming this sentence is authentic), Peter responds to the news of the angels communicated by the women and goes to the tomb and sees the linen wrappings.

Another close parallel to the shepherds’ visitation is Jesus own appearance to the two people (two men, or man & wife) on the road to Emmaus. Initially they do not know who Jesus is. Then, during the evening, Jesus reveals Himself to them. The angels also appeared to the shepherds at night. The shepherds immediately went to see the baby Jesus, and the two travelers immediately return to Jerusalem.

The couple on the road to Emmaus may also link with the appearance of the baby Jesus to Simeon and Anna in 2:25-38.

Finally, the boy Jesus left his parents and stayed in the Temple, His Father’s house (2:41-50). Similarly, at the end of Luke Jesus leaves the disciples and enters the heavenly Temple (Luke 24:50-53).