Elizabeth. John the Baptist. Mary. Luke the beloved Physician. Four individuals. One immeasurable gift. The nearness of the Christ.
Welcome to another installment this Christmas season, dear Christian.
I was once asked by one of my clients how I could say the same thing so many different ways. I don’t recall exactly what I told them, but I do remember some of the thoughts that flashed through my mind.
“So…are you implying I’m a broken record?”
“Because some folks won’t hear or get it the first time…or the fifteenth…or the fiftieth.”
“Am I stuck, Lord? Because this sure feels like the heart of the gift You’ve given me to share.”
In the end, after some internal examination, I decided to stick with the one place I feel confident: nearer, my God, to Thee. If that means not surviving without the nearness of the Christ, so be it. Maybe my client feels some of that too; they’ve kept coming back and I haven’t stopped saying the same thing different ways.
Many Individuals. One Christ.
Not all clients respond like that one. I wish I could say that was the case, but white space on my calendar where they used to be, reminds me of another who got mad, accusing, and blamey at me for how they view their life. Well, I don’t own or live their life, they do. I’ve got my own. Unlike the first query above, this one let me know they were tired of hearing from me about the nearness of the Christ (in the Person of the Holy Spirit), and ‘how could they ever know they were thinking wrong unless I told them?!’ They then took matters into their own hands, but their next move backfired on them. I still grieve at the abrupt end to our counseling relationship.
So, what does two different client reactions to this consistency in my work have to do with Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Mary, and Luke the Physician?
Each one responded to the nearness of the Christ in a manner believing and befitting who He is, was, and will prove to be. As a result, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb (John the Baptist), and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:41-45 NIV84)
(Ed. note: Elizabeth, aging and barren, chose to believe for herself before she could ever exclaim that to Mary, who also chose to believe. Both required a Holy Spirit intervention.)
John the Baptist
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. (Luke 1:76-80 NIV84)
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:34-38 NIV84)
I am writing for you, mighty lover of God,[a] an orderly account of what Jesus, the Anointed One, accomplished and fulfilled among us. Several eyewitness biographies have already been written,[b] using as their source material the good news preached among us by his early disciples, who became loving servants of the Living Expression.[c] But now I am passing on to you this accurate compilation of my own meticulous investigation[d] based on numerous eyewitness interviews and thorough research of the story of his life. It is appropriate for me to write this, for he also appeared to me[e] so that I would reassure you beyond any shadow of a doubt the reliability of all you have been taught of him. (Luke 1:1-4 TPT)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
“who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
Dear Christian, this is the nearness of the Christ. The Beginning. The End. Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come. Ever present and not far from us, every one. Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Mary, and Luke went on to live their lives profoundly affected by their individual encounters with the nearness of the Christ. We as believers in Christ Jesus will do no less when He is made real to us by His Holy Spirit. Like them, we will not remain unfilled.
If that makes you uncomfortable or mad, I’m sorry. But I won’t stop believing, nor will I stop saying the same thing many different ways. One day, deaf ears will be opened and blind eyes will see Him for Who he is and has always been. I stake my life on it.
Until then, if it takes me fifty times (and I think I’m way past that quota), I remain in solidarity with Luke for I am writing to you, mighty lover of God, an orderly account of the nearness of the Christ.
~ Gracefully Free
- Luke 1:1 The Greek text can be translated “most excellent Theophilus.” The name Theophilus means “friend of God” or “lover of God.” The Greek word means “most honorable” or “mightiest.” Some scholars believe there was no individual named Theophilus mentioned in Luke’s writings. This becomes instead a greeting to all the lovers of God.
- Luke 1:1 It is likely that Matthew and Mark are two of the Gospel accounts Luke refers to here.
- Luke 1:1 Translated literally from the Aramaic text. The Greek word is logos. Some have translated this rich term as “Word.” It could also be translated “Message” or “Blueprint.” Jesus Christ is the eternal Word, the creative Word, and the Word made visible. He is the divine self-expression of all that God is, contains, and reveals in incarnated flesh. Just as we express ourselves in words, God has perfectly expressed himself in Christ.
- Luke 1:1 The Greek word used here is actually “to see with the eye” or “autopsy.”
- Luke 1:1 Translated literally from the Aramaic text. The Greek text uses the same term for “coming from above” found in John 3:31 and 19:11. Luke is revealing that the Lord Jesus appeared to him and authorized him to compile his inspired Gospel.