Here we are, at the last of The Encounter Series. This time, let’s take a look at Luke 2:1-21, where we see an encounter become an action…
Firstly, in verses 1-7, it’s talks about the census. A census requires people to return to their own town (to their original family home) and you can imagine that as well as this being a lawful act, it was a great reunion across the nation. Mary (the same Mary as in the second of The Encounter Series) was pledged to be married to Joseph, and was also expecting a child so rather than staying/returning to her own town, she submitted and went with Joseph. The two of them journeyed together, at a vulnerable time for Mary. In fact, whilst they were in Bethlehem, in such vulnerability, they trusted, dwelling in God’s presence… And here, we see a new encounter, as Christ is born, and laid in a manger…
Yet this in itself is not the encounter that I want to talk about. Other remarkable encounters occurred during the time of Jesus’ birth, and one of them is revealed in verses 8-14. Shepherds encountered God, whilst watching their flocks; the shepherds found themselves surrounded by glory, and in every direction, they saw bright, blinding light! At first, this caused fear but as they began to trust, the angels brought peace, joy and the good news about the Messiah – the promised deliver! The angels told them where to find him, instantly making him available to all, and they formed a heavenly host of praise. What a powerful encounter!
In verses 15-20, after this encounter, the shepherds hurried off – they were filled with passion and were desperate to meet Christ Jesus! With their own eyes, they saw the angel’s message in the flesh, fulfilled, and they we overwhelmed by this amazing encounter. Just as Mary visited Elizabeth, the shepherds visited this glorious, holy child, giving encouragement and testimony to Mary and Joseph. However, just as we Mary took a step on from Zechariah’s encounter, we also see the shepherds taking a third step, onwards from the example of Mary… The shepherds did not stay in fellowship for long; they got up, went, and put it into action by speaking of the encounter, and of the prophecies that spoke of joy as well as deliverance. The encounter gave them vision, and following it, they began a mission of ministry, helping others to also encounter their God. The thing is, in verse 21, the child is named Jesus, highlighting how the word of God, spoken through the angel, came to be – the word became flesh. And so here, the shepherds respond to their encounter, by acting out, hoping to allow the word to become flesh for others – to allow us to encounter!
And so, as we look back over the encounter series, we see three points, regarding how we can and should encounter God.
1. Dwell – dwell with God, and tap into his presence. Pray, and listen – ask him to meet with you where you are. A regular prayer life is key, and patience to listen for his voice is just as important.
2. Encounter – one encounter (of many), could come at any time. Immediately, during your drive home, or later on whilst your studying the word. But when we encounter, we are to revel in it… Focus, write it down for testimony, see what God is revealing to you, and share it with your close community of relatives/Christian friends.
3. Go – Take what you’ve learned, gain vision, and actively share your encounter with Non-Christians, letting them know that they too can encounter God. Let them know that God really wants to reveal something to them, and that all it takes is faith, trust, and submission.
Thank you for being a part of The Encounter Series. I hope that you all encounter God in ways that you’ve never imagined – it probably wont be angels, but revelations, miracles and whatever else, God chooses to do!
What can you do to help others encounter God?