The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold.
(Read Luke 1:1-25)
Luke gives a well-researched and historically accurate account of the life of Jesus in his gospel. It was customary in the first century to write an introduction to any book. Doctor Luke’s education and Greek back ground must have helped him to write a complete biography of Christ. Luke may have received his information’s from eye witnesses and from the disciples of Jesus (Acts 21:8; 1 Cor 15:6). He was a companion and fellow worker with apostle Paul (Philemon 24). He investigated accurately the events surrounding the life and death of Jesus. It was not a partial or fragmentary but a careful and orderly historical account of Jesus’ life. Luke wrote his gospel to affirm the truthfulness of the life of Jesus to Theophilus. Theophilus is a Greek name which means “beloved of God”. He was a disciple of Jesus Christ. Luke begins his gospel with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple and told him that he is going to have a son. They were without children. Their son, John the Baptist will be the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Zechariah was a godly man but failed to believe the message of the angel because they were too old to have children. They failed to believe that all things are possible with God. God did not condemn Zechariah but discipline him by making him mute for a season. So when Zechariah left the temple, he had no priestly blessings to give. Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, we may sometimes go through a seasons of disappointment and sadness. But God is able to bless us even in our sorrows. God used this couple’s barrenness to show his miraculous power by blessing them with a son with the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah.
Christ’s Birth Announced to Mary.
(Read Luke 1:26-45)
God sent Gabriel to Nazareth to tell Mary of the birth of Jesus. She was a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph. Christ’s virgin birth is important for several reasons. It was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy (Gen 3:15; Isaiah 7:14). It was necessary to avoid the curse on the seed of Jeconiah (Jeremiah 22: 24-30). Jesus was born sinless. Mary was perplexed by the message of Gabriel that she is going to give birth to the Son who will reign as King forever (V 32). The angel said to her “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. But unlike Zechariah she had a childlike faith in God. She asked “How shall this be, since I know not a man?” The angel said to her “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be called Holy One, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Gabriel also told Mary that her elderly cousin Elisabeth who was barren had also conceived and this is the sixth month. For with God nothing shall be impossible. She responded to God’s plan with faith and said “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Immediately after receiving Gabriel’s message, Mary visited Elisabeth. When she greeted Elisabeth, the child leaped within her and filled her with the Holy Spirit. She exclaimed with joy “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. What an honor that the mother of my Lord should visit me, you are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said”. God gave Elisabeth the prophetic knowledge of Mary’s condition to praise God. God always honors childlike faith. We must be careful not to downgrade Mary, nor to exalt her too highly.
The Song of Mary and the Prophecy of Zachariah.
(Read Luke 1:46-80)
As Mary considered God’s grace toward her, she sang the song of praise to God. This section is commonly called the “Magnificat” which means song of praise to God. In her song Mary magnifies the Lord for his great power, his holiness, his mercy and his faithfulness. These virtues we see in the person of Jesus Christ. The child she carries will conquer the enemy and provide eternal mercy to those who are humble in heart. God is faithful in his promises to fathers and he has not forgotten his people. She humbly acknowledged her privilege of bearing the Son of God. She rejoices in Jesus as her God and Savior (Luke 1: 47). There no room for pride when it comes to salvation. God hates pride and it is self destructive. After staying with Elizabeth for three months Mary returned to her home. Everyone rejoiced with Elizabeth when they heard that she is going to give birth to a son. People were surprised when his parents named him John on the eighth day when the boy was circumcised. John in Hebrew means “Jehovah is gracious or Jehovah’s gift”. Everyone wondered what this child will become? The hand of the Lord was with him. Zechariah's prophecy gives us a powerful picture of the gospel and its blessings. “God has visited his people and redeemed them. He fulfilled the promises for us so that we might serve him without fear. He forgives our sins and shines light on our darkness. He guides our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:68-79). This remarkable prophecy refers to the coming of the Messiah and his forerunner. And John grew up and became strong in spirit and he was in the wilderness until he began his public ministry in Israel. When we appreciate the depth of God’s grace, our devotion towards Christ will grow and our hearts will overflow with praise. Be thankful for the limitless blessing we have in Christ.