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Letter to Women

'Tidings of Joy' in Luke's Gospel

Jesus Christ
Oral and written tradition
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The meaning for today

From ‘Notes on the Formation of the Gospels’, by John Wijngaards;
published in Background to the Gospels (Bangalore & Ann Arbor 1981)
and Together in My Name (London 1991).

Christ has liberated us from sin, from slavery and ignorance. What a joy this should be to us! The Gospel message took its name from ‘Good-spell’, ‘good-tidings’, ‘joyful tidings’. Luke has very well expressed this joy of Christianity in his Gospel.

Jesus taught us about God’s joy and happiness when he receives a sinner back into his friendship. The “coming home of a sinner” is a feast for God.

“I tell you there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent” (in the parable of the lost sheep: Luke 15:7).

“I tell you the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

“The son was still a long way from home when the Father saw him; his heart was filled with pity and he ran, threw his arms around his son and kissed him...and he said: ‘Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Then go, get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celehrate with a feast’ ” (in the parable of the prodigal son: Luke 15:20-23).

The reaction to Jesus’ message and all the good things he brought is always one of joy:

“How glad and happy you will be, and how happy many others will be when he is born!” (the angel speaking to Zacharias: Luke 1:14).

“I have good news for you which will bring great joy to all the people: ‘This very night your saviour was born’!” (the angel to the shepherds: Luke 2:11).

“And the seventy-two disciples came back in great joy: ‘Lord’, they said, ‘even the demons obeyed us’!” (Luke 10:17).

“All the people rejoiced over every wonderful thing he did” (Luke 13: 17).

Christian joy naturally gives rise to the expression of thanks and praise to God.

“The large crowd of his disciples began to thank God and praise him in loud voices for all he great things thee they had seen” (Luke 19:37).

(after Jesus’ ascension into heaven:) “They worshipped Him and went back into Jerusalem, filled with great joy and spent all their time in the Temple giving thanks to God” (Luke 24:52-53).

“My heart praises the Lord, my soul is glad because of God my Saviour! ” (Mary: Luke 1:46-47).

“Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel, for he came to the help of his people” (Zachariah: Luke 1:68).

“Glory to God in the highest heavens! And peace on earth topeople with whom he is pleased!” (the angels: Luke 2:14).

“Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace” (Simeon: Luke 2:29).

John Wijngaards

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