The Gospel of Luke is one of the “synoptic” gospels as it is a written account of the life of Jesus Christ. Luke was a Greek physician and a friend of Paul’s. He also wrote the Book of Acts, which we’ll cover after this. What I like about Luke is that he was a historian — an investigative reporter of the 1st century. Being a history buff, I appreciate his accuracy in placing the events, as we will see, in known historic times.
As Paul told us in the Book of Romans, Jesus came to save the Jew first, then the Gentiles. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus trying to reach the Jews in Israel and the Book of Acts tells how the Gospel — the Good News — is rejected by the Jews and then God instructs the apostles to spread it beyond Israel to the rest of the world.
Luke is the only one to tell the “Christmas” story of Jesus’ birth in detail as we will see. The first chapter is the announcement that God will soon be with us. Let’s dig in…
Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
Who was Theophilus? Most likely, he was a Roman official. So, we have a gentile writing to a gentile. I love how he says that we can be certain of the truth. We need more investigative reporters like Luke — focus on the truth. Continuing…. Next we meet John the Baptist’s parents…. Note, also, that Luke tells us exactly when the story occurs — when Herod was king of Judea.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (John the Baptist’s job description.)
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.
23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Which other older woman in the Bible also had a child in her old age? Sarah, Abraham’s wife in Genesis. Nothing is impossible with God.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.” (For nothing is impossible with God.)
38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
I’ve explained before that, yes, Mary was blessed, but she was just a vessel nothing more.
We have 4 characters here. Gabriel, God’s messenger angel, Zechariah, the priest, Elizabeth, his wife, and Mary, Elizabeth’s cousin.
Gabriel has to tell both Zechariah and Mary to not be afraid of him. Zechariah’s unbelief caused him to be made dumb — silenced. Mary, on the other hand, had a reaction of humility as did Elizabeth. Let’s see what happens when Mary goes to visit her cousin…
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise
46 Mary responded,
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.
Mary was a humble servant. She would never want to be worshiped or raised above Jesus.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.
59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”
61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.
67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
76 “And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”
80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.Luke 1 NLT
We’re told here that Jesus is from the royal line of King David. He came to establish a government, not a religion. There hadn’t been anyone in the throne of David for centuries. King Herod, wasn’t even a Jew. He was appointed by Rome to serve as king to appease the Jewish leaders.
Jesus is also our savior. John the Baptist was to prepare the way for him. And if you read the Gospel of John, you’ll see how Jesus is described as a light shining in a world of darkness.
Seeking the Light
This plant sits next to my desk in front of a window. Notice how the leaves are facing the window. It’s naturally seeking the light. I have to turn it every so often so it will grow fuller and not lean in one direction.
We are like this plant. We seek the light in this dark world. We seek it in entertainment, relationships with people, food, drink, drugs, excitement, fun, religion, you name it!
Jesus is our light. The ONLY light we need! Seek the light!
The Message is so simple!
- Salvation through the forgiveness of sins
- Light taking away the darkness by God’s tender mercy
- The Light leading us to a path of peace
So if you’re looking for “enlightenment”, you’ve come to the right place — Jesus Christ! If you’re feeling hopeless – your hope is with Jesus. Our hope is His salvation, our hope is His light, our hope is God’s mercy, our hope is His peace.
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…