Luke Lesson 1: “A Special Baby: Rejoice”
Motivation: Many people act like God only works in heaven or in the “big picture”. However this account clearly reveals that He works in the process of our obedience and is vitally concerned with our day to day issues.
I. Doubts (1: 1-25)
A. Statement of Intentions (1-4) HCSB, p. 1728: 1:1-4 “Using elegant Greek, Luke began his narrative about the events of Jesus’ life and ministry with a formal preface. This was a common practice in historical works of Luke’s era. His prologue: (1) acknowledged previous treatments of the subject, (2) stated his methodology, (3) identified the recipient, and (4) articulated his purpose in writing.”
B. Announcement of John’s Birth (5-25)
1. Priest “…there was a priest of Abijah’s division named Zachariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” (5) HCSB, p. 1728, 1:5 “King Herod the Great was an Idumean appointed by the Roman emperor who ruled from 37 – 4 B.C. His realm covered not only Judea, but also Samaria, Galilee, and part of Perea and Syria. In the days of indicates that the events that immediately follow probably occurred in 7-6 B.C. The priesthood of Israel was made up of 24 divisions, including the house of Abijah (1 Ch. 24:10). Daughters of Aaron reveals that Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were from priestly families. It is also the first instance of Luke’s regular emphasis on the vital role that women played throughout Jesus’ life.”
2. Personality “Both were righteous in God's sight, living without blame according to all the commands and requirements of the Lord.” (6) In contrast to the kings of Judah who “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” (2 Kings 21:2, 20; 23:32, 37; 24:9, 18) it’s great to read of a “blameless” couple! (Jude 24-25)
3. Progeny “But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years.” (7) There was, however, a great grief in their life – they had no children (v. 7). For a woman to be without a child was a great disgrace in that culture. Some rabbis, viewed childlessness as grounds for a man to divorce his wife. Furthermore, the couple’s devotion to the Lord made their childless state more difficult to understand because children were recognized as blessings from the Lord (Ps. 127:3-5).
4. Process “When his division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, it happened that he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense.” (8-9). Zacharias had an incredible encounter with God during the process of his obedience. Obviously he and Elizabeth had cried out to God for years concerning their lack of offspring. Rather than growing bitter due to God’s apparent unresponsiveness, Zachariah remained faithful to his place of service. Based on estimates of the number of serving priests of that day, the opportunity to burn incense may have been a “once in a lifetime” experience. God’s timing is precise and perfect!
5. Prophecy “But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.” (13)
a. Enthusiasm “There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth.” (14) After years of “barrenness,” joy came in the morning (Ps. 30:5).
b. Enforcement “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer…” (15).
John carried the constraints of the Nazirite vow. (Nu. 6:1-4)
c. Effectiveness “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God” (16) What a wonderful promise to parents that their child would be effective for the Lord! (Isa. 46:9-10)
d. Elijah “He will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people” (17) Traditionally, Elijah was thought to be a precursor to the Messiah (Matt. 15:14).
6. Partner “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God...” (19) Gabriel (“Mighty man of God” or “God is my hero”) is often considered the messenger archangel (Daniel 9:21ff; Luke 1:26). In virtually every case of an angelic appearance, the human reaction is fear (12).
7. Penalty “Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” (20) Even though Zacharias was “righteous” and “blameless” (6), his lack of faith carried a severe penalty (Heb. 11:6).
8. Product “After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived…” (24) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth: among those born of woman there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist…” (Matt. 11:11a). After the years of waiting, Zacharias and Elizabeth were not just getting a child of promise, but a singular figure of history! The “reproach” mentioned in v. 25 reflects the common view that children were a sign of God’s blessing, therefore, childlessness was a curse. It should be noted that in the truth of the gospel we find that God’s favor is unmerited; He bestows grace upon “as many as received Him” (John 1:12). Childlessness often results from a physical condition that has nothing to do with one’s spiritual fellowship with God. Those who desire children but are not able to conceive should not feel “reproach”; God will not test us beyond our endurance (I Cor. 10: 13). Many childless couples have been led by God to adopt with happy results.
II. Submission (26-38)
A. Angel “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,” (26)
Believers Study Bible, p. 1433: 1:26 “‘In the sixth month’ notes the time that elapsed since the vision of Zacharias in the temple (v. 11)” Angels are God’s messengers. Evidently they are not as cute and cuddly as popularly portrayed, for the near universal reaction to their presence is fear (30), Gabriel was sent by God to interpret Daniel’s vision to him (Dan. 8:16 ff). Michael is called the “Archangel” (Jude 9), and Gabriel is popularly imagined to have this rank as well. (Dan. 9:21, 10:9; cf. I Thess. 4:16)
1. Special Person “to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.” (27) In our Baptist haste to refute “Maryolatry,” we should not fail to recognize the unique honor given to her. In his Christmas message several years ago, Bro. John asked “Why Mary?”
a. Mary was seeking God’s face, not His favor “You have found favor with God.” (30) There’s no hint that Mary was trying to obtain something from God. While every young girl probably dreamed of being the Messiah’s mother, scripture expresses no prayer of Mary to suggest this. (Dan. 11:37) She is a reminder: if we attend to the depth of our ministry, God will attend to its breadth. We must beware of the “name it and claim it – prosperity gospel.” (Heb. 11:6; 12:1-2) Jer. 31:22
b. Mary was available to the Plan of God “I am the Lord's slave," said Mary. "May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel left her.” (38) Mary was not trying to arrange God into her plans as many do; rather, she was available to follow God’s plan. The greatest ability may be availability.
c. Mary was humble before the honor of God “And the angel came to her and said, "Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you." (28) “because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed,” (48) Perhaps what is most striking is the relative absence of Mary in scripture following this account. She is never represented as a figurehead in the early church nor as one seeking honor for herself. As we have seen, Jesus purposefully diverted attention away from His earthly family (8:19-21).
d. Mary believed in the promises of God “He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy,” (54) Once Mary heard the Word of the Lord, it was not a matter of “if” but “when.” Having heard the promise she began to act on it.
2. Special Proclamation “Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (31-33) From the last of the prophets until this time had been the “silent period” of about 400 years in which God’s people had not heard from on high. Throughout this period of oppression, first by the Greeks and then by the Romans, God’s people waited in anticipation of Messiah. When Mary heard the words of Gabriel, she understood that over 300 Old Testament prophecies would be fulfilled in the Child she would bear. (Rev. 1:19) 11:15
3. Special Procedure "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (35) HCSB, p. 1730: 1:34-35 “The difference between Mary’s response (how can this be) and Zechariah’s (v. 18) is that Mary asked her question not from unbelief but from puzzlement (v. 38). The answer to Mary’s question about how she could get pregnant without being intimate with a man is that the Holy Spirit would overshadow (Gk. episkiazo; ‘to fall upon (as a shadow)’ her and cause her to conceive. Because the Holy Spirit was the agent of conception, the child (the holy One; 2 Co 5:21; Heb. 4:15) would be the Son of God.”
1. An Affirmation of Miraculous Births “And consider your relative Elizabeth--even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless.” (36) In verse 25, Elizabeth praised God “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked upon me, to take away my reproach among people.” Seeing the pregnancy of a woman thought incapable of giving birth (44) would certainly bolster Mary’s faith in the miraculous birth foretold to her.
2. An Affirmation of God’s Power “For nothing will be impossible with God." (37) For long-time HFBC
members, the song “Nothing is Impossible” brings back memories of God’s mighty work in relocating our
church from downtown and providing this property and facility through the faithfulness of His people. (John 15:5; Mark 10:27-30)
3. Affirmation of God’s Word “May it be done to me according to your word." (38) Although Mary doubtless had many questions, she was ready to follow God’s plan as revealed by His Word.
III. Rejoicing (39-56)
A. Visit to Cousin (39-45)
1. The Witness of the Holy Spirit “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (41) As a member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is eternal and immutable. However, His interaction with humanity changes from the Old Testament to the New:
a. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was selective. In the New Testament He indwells every Believer.
b. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was temporary in His indwelling. In the New Testament, He comes to empower forever.
c. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was granted for specific tasks or utterances. In the New Testament, He provides strength and direction for daily living. Just prior to Pentecost, the Holy Spirit became normative for Christians. Prior to that time, we see incidents such as this in which those who trusted God received a special anointing for service. (Ps. 51:11)
2. The Witness of John “the babe leaped in her womb” (41, cf. 44). John’s ministry was to announce the Messiah (3:4); even before he was born, the passion of John for his ministry is foreshadowed.
3. The Witness of Elizabeth
a. “Blessed are you among women” (42) Mary is not elevated above all women to the rank of deity. Rather, her signet honor “among women” is recognized.
b. “the mother of my Lord” (43) the ultimate honor is obviously directed to Jesus. The term “my Lord” is used only here and by Mary Magdalene (20:13) Thomas (20:28) and Paul (Phil. 3:8)
4. The Witness of the Prophets “there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord” (45) Gabriel’s prophecy (31) was only a continuation of the specific prophecies recorded throughout the Old Testament concerning Jesus:
1) Seed of a Woman (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4)
2) Through Abraham (Gen 22:18; John 8:54-56)
3) Through David (Ps. 89:3-4; Isa. 9:7; Matt. 1:6; Luke 3:31)
4) Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:2-6)
5) Born of a Virgin (Isa. 7:14, Luke 1:27)
6) Announced by John the Baptist (Malachi 3:1; Luke 1:17)
7) Worked Miracles (Isa. 35:5-6; Matt. 11:4-6
8) Tortured and Crucified (Isa. 50:6; 53:1-8; Ps. 22:1-16; Matt. 27; Mark 14;
Luke 23; John 19)
9) Rose Again (Ps. 16:10; Luke 24:6, 31-34, 44-50)
B. Praise to God (1:46-56)
1. Praise for His Grace to Her (46-49)
a. God’s place “My soul magnifies the Lord.” (46) Mary’s hymn is called the Magnificat from the first word of the Latin Vulgate translation meaning “magnification.” True worship begins by understanding in a heartfelt sense that God deserves to be praised.
b. Mary’s place “And my spirit rejoiced in God my Savior, for He has recorded the lowly state of His
maidservant.” (47-48a) When God is understood in His place, our place of sin and unworthiness becomes crystal clear. Pride, self-sufficiency and rebellion are impossible if God is seen in His proper place.
c. God’s Plan for Mary “For behold, hence forth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty
has done great things for me” (48b-49). The parallel to Isaiah 6:1-8 is not coincidental:
God’s place “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne” (1)
Isaiah’s place “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips” (5)
God’s plan for Isaiah “Here am I! Send me” (8b) (Matt. 6:33)
2. Praise for His Grace toward All People (50-53)
a. God’s nature: holy (49), merciful (50), strong (51)
b. God’s plan: “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” Jas. 4:6; I Pet. 5:5 He offers grace to
those who realize they are unworthy in their own strength.
3. Praise for His Grace toward Israel “He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy. As He
spoke to our Fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever” (54-55). Mary’s praise concludes with a tribute to God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises to Abraham given almost 1900 years of prior. Jesus was to be a Messiah first to the Jewish nation (Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:16; Gal. 3:29) and ultimately to the ends of the earth. (Rom. 9:22-10:4; Acts 9:15, 28:28)
IV. Amazement (57-66)
A. Prophecy “…She brought forth a son” (57) God’s promises are fulfilled! Not only did she have child, but those around her “rejoiced” (58) just as Gabriel foretold (14).
B. Profession “His name is John” (63) The account of John’s naming (59-66) is pretty familiar and somewhat humorous. While family and friends are playing the name game (61), Zacharias stands mute, both possessed of the Angel’s charge (13) and curse (20). The scene turns from “charades” to “pictionary” as Zacharias tries to communicate. When he finally discharges the angel’s commission (63), his tongue is loosed and he breaks forth in praise. Interestingly, the crowd’s response was fear (65), a common reaction from unredeemed people to the supernatural visitation of God’s power (Mark 5:15)
V. Confession (67-80)
The praise song of Zacharias is a follow-on to Mary’s Magnificat (46-55). The theme is God’s redemption of His people. Notice the word and phrases that we associate with, the born again experience: (Isa. 61:1)
“redeemed” (68) – God has paid the purchase price to free the captives.
“salvation” (69, 71) – The lost have been saved from eternal punishment. (John 3:16-18)
“mercy” (72) – Not getting what we deserve (Rom. 6:23).
“covenant” (72) – The New Testament is really the new covenant. (Heb. 8:8)
“delivered” (74) – Those in bondage to the enemy are delivered to a land of freedom.
“To give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” (77) This is the core message of John the Baptist.
1. God’s Word is accurate and authoritative. (Acts 1:3)
2. God’s work often intersects with our daily obedience. (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:11-14)
3. God’s redemption is available by His mercy and grace. (Heb. 4:15-16)
Explore the Bible Leader Pack: Item 1: Map of the World Where Jesus Walked”; Item 2: Poster: Unit 1
Biblical Illustrator: CS – “What’s Unique to Luke?”; p. 39: “The Last Shall be First: Reversal of a theme in Luke”; p. 43: “Luke: A letter to the Gentiles”
Notes: **You may access David’s Lesson Preview in MP3 format at: www.hfbcbiblestudy.org
Dates: 2011: 1/24 – 3/6 – Living Proof Bible Study; 3/2-3 – Men’s Conf. with Steve Farrar; 3/5-7 – Senior Adult Revival; 3/9 – Summit Celebrates; 3/11 – Daylight Saving Time begins; 3/12-16 – Spring Break for HISD, SB & FBA; 3/17 – Widow & Widowers luncheon; 3/21 – College Kardia; 3/24 – SPF event, Eat at Clay’s; 3/25 – Spring Loaded; 3/28 – Imago exhibit begins; 3/30 – FBA Warrior Day 2012; 4/4 – College Kardia; 4/5 – Broken for you; 4/6 – Good Friday, Church offices closed; 4/7 – Aid Sudan Run; 4/8 – Easter Sunday, no LBS; 4/13 – Parents Night Out; 4/13 - 6th grade Wax Museum; 4/14 – Men Play at Warrior Field; 4/15 – David Barton speaking 3 serv.; 4/15 – AMP Wired on Sunday at 9:30 FSC; 4/18 – College Kardia; 4/20-21 – High School Girls event; 4/21 - SPF – Houston Zoo Event; 4/22 – LBS Leadership Lunch; 4/27 - Summit Celebrates.
Last Updated (Friday, 24 February 2012 15:47)