Things that have been handed down are sometimes looked upon as being inferior. Whether it be clothes, tools, or kitchen utensils, there are some who prefer the new to the old. On the one hand, there are things that need to be updated, and there are times when something new can do the job better.
But, on the other hand, there are times when the old is the best way to go. Some items cannot be improved upon. Those things that have been handed down often have a way of connecting us to a story. They have stood the test of time and can serve another generation.
As Christians, we have things that have been handed down to us. It is something far more valuable than clothing, quilts, or cars. What is it? The gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Luke begins with these words:
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. Luke 1:1-4
The Gospel of Luke begins by noting that the events of the life of Jesus have been handed down. This refers to something that has been delivered from one person to another. Although none of us is an eyewitness to the life of Jesus as were some in the 1 st century, we also have the responsibility of handing down the stories of the life of Christ to others.
The same word is used in a similar context in the little letter of Jude. The letter begins with the writer stating, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
In contrast to those who do not honor Christ as Lord, the people to whom Jude writes are told to be those who are “building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21).
In both the Gospel of Luke and the letter of Jude, that which is handed down is not old, outdated, or no longer working. The opposite is true. That which is handed down is life-giving, enriching, and leads to spiritual flourishing. The same is true for us. The power of the gospel, although the message is old, is in its ability to give us new life and a new way of seeing the world. It has been handed down to us. And for that, we should be thankful.