Luke Chapter One

 

            Most of what we know about the individual named Luke that wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, the history of the first century church can be found in Acts and Paul’s epistles.  First and second century writers indicate that he was a Greek.  We don’t know when he was converted but we know that he was a companion of Paul’s during his missionary journeys.  That is noted in scripture for the first time in Troas on Paul’s second missionary journey and is recorded in Acts 16:10-11.  Luke uses the personal pronoun “we” to describe Paul’s journey from Troas to Macedonia.  We do know that he was a physician and that he was also an evangelist (Colossians 4:14).

            Since Luke was a Greek, converted after Jesus had died, rose again and ascended into heaven it is also obvious that he could write about Jesus life only through the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, confirming to us in another way that “ALL SCRIPTURE” is inspired of God.  His record is the fullest of the four gospels and also in many ways the most detailed.

 

v.1-41Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”

 

            This gospel account is written almost like a letter of Paul’s.  It was written for the purpose as stated in verse four so that Theophilus would know that those things which he had been taught about Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel were true.  Luke records, because of his perfect understanding through inspiration, those things that were taught by others who were “EYEWITNESSES AND MINISTERS OF THE WORD”.  Eyewitness testimony given just as Jesus commanded his disciples:

 

John 15:27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”

 

The same that John testified of in our recent study of I John:

 

I John 1:11That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;”

 

Luke didn’t write from the personal knowledge like John but rather from the words of these eyewitnesses and ministers, and from the direction of the Holy Spirit as did all of the other writers that we find in the canon of scripture.

 

v.55There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.”

 

            Luke begins with the history of John and his family relationship with Jesus.  In the days of Herod called “the Great” in the province of Judah lived a priest of the tribe of Levi and his wife Elisabeth who was also a descendant of Aaron.  He was of the course of Abia.  What does that mean?  In I Chronicles 24, David divided the priests into twenty-four courses or groups to serve in the temple that he prepared for Solomon to build.  These men served in the tabernacle and temple worship “AS THE DUTY OF EVERY DAY REQUIRED” II Chronicles 8:14.  Elisabeth was also a Levite because the Israelites were not to marry outside of their tribe.  Why?  Because the inheritance was not to pass from tribe to tribe, it was to be kept within the bounds of each of the tribes of Israel.

 

v.6  6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

 

            How wonderful it would be to have the Lord God of heaven cause to be recorded through the inspiration of scripture about us that we walk in “ALL THE COMMANDMENTS AND ORDINANCES OF THE LORD BLAMELESS.”  He testified of this same thing about David, didn’t he, in a vision to Solomon:

 

I Kings 9:44And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:”

 

            But wait a minute, David sinned greatly didn’t he?  He committed adultery, he caused a man to be placed in front of an attack of the army so he could have his wife (II Samuel 11 & 12), yet God describes him as having integrity of heart, walking uprightly, according to all that He had commanded.  How can that be?  David repented of those sins.  David was forgiven of those sins through the blood of Christ.  Even though David made drastic mistakes and at time yielded to temptation, just as we do, David worked at living according to the covenant and laws that God gave his people at that time.  David was a man of God.  He sinned just as all men do but he obeyed God, honored God, worshipped God, and walked to the very best of his ability at a child of God.  From this we can take a great lesson for our lives and great comfort as well.


 v.77And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.”

 

            They were getting on in years and they had no child because Elisabeth was barren.

 

v.8-98And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.”

 

            The duty that Zacharias had on this date was to burn the incense, symbolizing the prayers of the people rising up to heaven while the people prayed out in the courtyard.

 

v.10-1110And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 11And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.”

 

            We have a parallel in the book of Revelation that gives what is perhaps an image of our prayers being offered up before God.

 

Revelation 8:3-43And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”

 

And while Zacharias was standing at the altar performing this duty an angel of God appears to him.

 

v.12-1412And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.”

 

            When Zacharias saw the angel he was afraid or perhaps startled as no one was supposed to be in this area with him at this time.  He was a devout man, praying perhaps even as he performed his priestly duties and he’s not expecting a direct response from heaven.  His situation is very similar to that of Cornelius:


 Acts 20:44And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”

 

            Zacharias and Elisabeth had been praying to God about their lack of children.  God is about to answer their prayers and use them to serve a very special purpose in the redemption of mankind.  They are to have a son and his name is to be called John.  Of course, we know that this is the announcement of the conception and soon to be born John the Baptizer.  Consequently many people will rejoice because of him and his role as the herald for the coming of the Son of God.

 

v.15-1615For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.”

 

            The description we should recognize here is that of a Nazarite; one who has dedicated himself to God.  Part of the description we find of these people in the book of Numbers reads as follows:

 

Numbers 6:33He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.”

 

            John was being brought into the world by God for a special purpose.  God knew him before he was conceived, just as he knew and appointed Jeremiah to his special purpose.

 

Jeremiah 1:55Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

 

            As a result of this special purpose that God had for John he would be instrumental in the turning hundreds and even thousands of the Jewish people from their thoughts of the world and its cares and attractions to the Son of God that was to follow him.  We see this purpose in the prophecy of Malachi:

 

Malachi 4:5-65Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

 

            And Luke repeats the essence of this prophecy in the next verse:

 

v.1717And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

 

            To make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  And the Lord referred to this prophecy to verify that John was indeed that one that God promised:

 

Matthew 11:13-1413For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.”

 

            In spite of his prayers, in spite of his faith in God, in spite of the fact that a messenger of God is bringing Zacharias this good news, he’s skeptical.

 

v.1818And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.”

 

            Zacharias didn’t have the faith that Abraham had, did he?  Paul writes that Abraham, when given the promise of Isaac:

 

Romans 4:19-20And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: 20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;”

 

            God’s messenger has an answer for Zacharias:

 

v.19-2019And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. 20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”


            The angel of God gives Zacharias two reasons and a sign to verify that God has sent him.  First of all he’s called Gabriel, one of God’s special messengers, known to those who knew the writings of the prophets because this angel gave Daniel the meaning of a vision:

 

Daniel 8:1616And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.”

 

            We shall see a lot more of Gabriel in the early chapters of Luke.  The second reason that Zacharias should believe Gabriel is that he has been sent by God with this wonderful news.  But now Zacharias is going to be given a sign, a special affliction to remind him of God’s power to keep his promises.  He is going to be struck dumb, unable to speak until the promise is fulfilled and the boy is born.

 

v.21-2321And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 23And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.”

 

            The people were anxious for Zacharias’ welfare in the Holy Place because he has been delayed and is staying much longer that was normal for the burning of the incense and the period of daily prayer.  When he does come out he cannot speak because God had struck him dumb to validate the message given by Gabriel but he explains to the people by signs, describing with his hands that he had seen a vision.  When the time had come that his priestly duties for this period were complete, his course or group is rotated out and replaced by the next course in their turn; Zacharias goes to his home.

 

v.24-2524And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”

 

            During the days after Zacharias returns home from his temple duty his wife Elisabeth conceives.  In spite of being of both being of an age where this is not common, in spite of Elisabeth’s being barren all these years God has now made provision for them to have a child.  Being, apparently, a modest woman, and to keep from being a spectacle since she was with child at what was considered an advanced age, Elisabeth secludes herself for five months.  During this time she is thankful to God that he has taken away the reproach she suffered by being barren.  Sarah was of the same mind when carrying Isaac:

 

Genesis 30:2323And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:”

 

v.26-2726And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”

 

            In this verse we find Gabriel again being the special messenger of God bringing the news that she would conceive of the Holy Spirit to Mary the physical mother of Jesus.  The timeline given is measured from the conception of John the Baptizer and gives us the relative ages of these two men, that John was approximately six months older than Jesus.  Mary was espoused, promised or as we would say today engaged to a man called Joseph, a man of the house of David.  Of course, when we examine the genealogy of Jesus in both Luke and Matthew we learn that both Joseph and Mary were of the family of David and the tribe of Judah.  Again remember the direction by God that the Israelites are to marry from within their own tribe to preserve the inheritance of each tribe that God had given them.  We are also told that Mary was a virgin, a woman that had not been with a man, providing for us a situation where the prophecy of Isaiah would be fulfilled:

 

Isaiah 7:1414Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

 

            As we know, one of the attacks that the agents of Satan make on Jesus is to deny that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not in the normal manner of men and therefore was brought into the earth by a miracle.  False teachers, denominational theologians and even false brethren have embraced the so-called translations that would change the word virgin in this scripture to young woman without valid cause, rewrite scripture and in so doing deny the deity of Jesus.

 

v.28-2928And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.”


            This young, unmarried woman is troubled about this greeting that she receives from an angel of God.  She doesn’t yet understand what manner of things God has in store for her.  But the words of the God’s messenger are reassuring as he calls her highly favored and blessed among women and that God is with her.

            This greeting is similar to that given to Gideon when he was chosen to free Israel from the Midianites and become a judge of Israel; Judges 6:12.

 

v.30-3330And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

 

            Again we have a declaration of the miracle of Jesus conception and the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the coming of the Saviour of the world.

            First this woman that has found favor with God will conceive in her womb.  Not a miracle within itself but in this case the natural law is set aside and no man is involved.  God had promised to undo the damage of the sin that Satan brought into the garden of Eden through the seed of woman:

 

Genesis 3:1515And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

 

It was through woman that sin came into the world, so it is only proper that it would be through woman that the remedy for that sin be brought into the world as well.  In addition the fact that a virgin would conceive was given as a sign, one of the proofs that the child born is indeed the Messiah; the redeemer that was to come.  That was prophesied:

 

Isaiah 7:1414Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

 

And then confirmed by Gabriel’s message to Mary and the events that followed.

 

            He shall be great, called the son of God and given the throne of David.  Again confirmation that ties the child that Mary is to bear to the prophesies of God’s penmen.  First God’s promise to David when he was chosen to be king of God’s people:

 

II Samuel 7:11-12And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. 12And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.”

 

Repeated in the Psalms:

 

Psalms 132:11 “THE LORD HAD SWORN in TRUTH UNTO DAVID; HE WILL NOT TURN FROM IT; OF THE FRUIT OF THY BODY WILL I SET UPON THY THRONE.”

 

And, of course, the passage that most of us have memorized at some time:

 

Isaiah 9:66For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

 

            He is to reign over the house of Jacob forever.  Knowing the minds of men, should we be surprised that the Jews would mistake this declaration and the prophesies that support it as a promise that through the coming of the Messiah, the physical kingdom of David would be restored?  This kingdom was to come at a specific time, in the days of the kings of Rome:

 

Daniel 2:4444And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

 

His kingdom would last forever:

 

Daniel 7:1414And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

 

Another prophet describes for us spiritual Israel, where those that had become a remnant, cast off and in bonds would be a strong nation, ruled by the Lord, as we, the church, the kingdom of Christ, are ruled today.

 

Micah 4:77And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.”

 

            The fulfillment of this prophesy is confirmed by the Hebrew writer:

 

Hebrews 1:88But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”

 

v.34  34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”

 

            Mary still doesn’t understand how all this is going to come about.  She understands the natural laws that God has put in place and wants to know how she is going to conceive.  So Gabriel explains and as a messenger of God further confirms the miracle of the coming of Christ.

 

v.35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

 

            She will conceive through a miracle.  The “POWER OF THE HIGHEST” will overshadow her through the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit of God.  He also brings to her confirmation that with God all things are possible.  Her cousin, Elisabeth, who was barren and advanced in age, is also with child.

 

v.36-3736And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

 

            The word of God will never be void of power.  If God says that something is or that something will be there can be no doubt that whatever is spoken of by God will come to pass.

 

Jeremiah 32:17  17Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:”

 

Matthew 19:2626But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”


            Whatever God has promised he will deliver.  The Holy Spirit through the inspiration of Paul underscores that lesson for us again in his writing to the church at Rome about the patriarch Abraham:

 

Romans 4:20-2220He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.”

 

v.3838And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”

 

            Mary accepts the words of God’s messenger and is now apparently satisfied that these things she is being told are true.  She also prepares to go to visit Elisabeth.

 

v.39-4039And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.”

 

            We’re told that Mary arose and went with haste.  Hearing the news that Elisabeth, who was barren, was also now with child and having received the visit from the angel unusual things are happening.  Perhaps Mary needed the advice and counsel of the older woman who was known for her relationship with God.

 

v.41And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:”

 

            When Mary and Elisabeth exchange greetings, even before they can discuss any of the happenings they have encountered the unborn babe John leaps for joy and Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Ghost.  Another sign of that these happenings are being directed by God.

 

v.42-4442And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

 

            Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Ghost; she is speaking by the inspiration of God confirming those things that Mary has been told, and testifying regarding the deity of Jesus.   This is not an ordinary greeting.  She uses the exact words of the angel Gabriel when he came to Mary in verse 28.  She ends her greeting with a confirmation that these things that Mary has been told will indeed come to be, will be fulfilled, will be performed; the word used in the KJV.

 

v.46-4746And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

 

            In Mary’s response we find a parallel with that of Hannah in her prayer of joy to God when she is promised a son:

 

I Samuel 2:11And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.”

 

            News of a son to be born would be enough for us in our families to rejoice but here we have a son to be born that will be the salvation of the entire world.  He is to be the promised Messiah that the Israel nation, its prophets, its scribes and its scholars had been searching for, for hundreds of years.

 

v.4848For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”

 

            Both Mary and Elisabeth in Luke’s record are speaking the words of prophecy or the words of women before them who have been specially blessed by God.  In their humbleness they are amazed that God would know them or have any special purpose for them.  Mary continues through the next several verses to praise God and honor him for the blessing that He has brought her.  Much like Hannah who was so taken by God’s answering her prayer for a son that she made a special pledge to God:

 

I Samuel 1:1111And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.”

 

We could and should take lessons from this humility and that of David:

 

Psalms 138:6  THOUGH THE LORD be HIGH, YET HATH HE RESPECT UNTO THE LOWLY: BUT THE PROUD HE KNOWETH AFAR OFF.”

 

v.49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.”

 

            In her words we find parallels again in the inspired writings in the books of Psalms, mighty God has honored his servant:

 

Psalms 71:19  THY RIGHTEOUSNESS ALSO, O GOD is VERY HIGH, WHO HAS DONE GREAT THINGS: O GOD, WHO is LIKE UNTO THEE!”

 

Psalms 111:9  HE SENT REDEMPTION UNTO HIS PEOPLE: HE HATH COMMANDED HIS COVENANT FOR EVER HOLY AND REVEREND is HIS NAME.”

 

v.5050And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.”

 

            God’s special mercy has been given to them of every generation who have heard and obeyed him.  That was his promise to Israel

 

Exodus 20:6  6And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

 

Psalms 103:17 “BUT THE MERCY OF THE LORD is FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING UPON THEM THAT FEAR HIM, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO CHILDREN’S CHILDREN;”

 

v.5151He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”

 

            The strength of God, his power and might his is honored here by her words; a strength that we can see in the words of Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 40:10-11Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

 

            As Bible students know; one of the things that God hates is a proud look, one whose pride will keep him from honoring God as Lord and Jehovah.  And such is named by Solomon in the seven things that are an abomination to God:

 

Proverbs 6:1717A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,”

 

v.52  52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.”

 

            God exercises all power over the earth.  He does indeed pull down the mighty from their seats of power, kings and countries rule only with his permission.  The Holy Spirit had Samuel record it this way:

 

1 Samuel 2:66The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.”

 

v.53-5453He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;”

 

            In her song of praise Mary is given the ability to look back and see all of the things that God had done for her people; Israel.  He has blessed the humble and the poor.  In the language of one of the psalms:

 

Psalms 98:3 “HE HATH REMEMBERED HIS MERCY AND HIS TRUTH TOWARD THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL: ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH HAVE SEEN THE SALVATION OF OUR GOD.”

 

He has remembered his promise of mercy, his promise to bring to the world a Messiah through Abraham.

 

v.55  55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”

 

            Here she takes us back to the seed promise made to Abraham:


 Genesis 17:1919And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”

 

That promise repeated to David:

 

Psalms 132:11 “THE LORD HATH SWORN in TRUTH UNTO DAVID; HE WILL NOT TURN FROM IT; OF THE FRUIT OF THY BODY WILL I SET UPON THY THRONE.”

 

And Paul in his record of the words of the Holy Spirit to the Galatian brethren certifies that this child born of Mary is indeed the Christ the Messiah promised to the world:

 

Galatians 3:1616Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”

 

v.5656And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.”

 

v.57-5857Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.”

 

            Oh, the joy of new born in the family, especially when there has been doubt that this blessed event could be brought about or one of the parents has been barren for some physical reason.  The household of Zacharias and Elisabeth is no different.

 

v.5959And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.”

 

            To answer the commandment of God; on the eighth day they took him to be circumcised as the covenant with God required:

 

Genesis 17:12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.


            Times change but people and some customs seem to never change.  The neighbors and kinfolk want to help Elisabeth and Zacharias name their new son and they want to call him Zacharias, after his father.

 

v.60-6360And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 63And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.”

 

            Elisabeth, who can speak, Zacharias cannot as he was struck dumb when he questioned the message of the angel of God at the altar, speaks for herself and her husband and tells everyone what the boy’s name will be.  It’s John as God instructed (Luke 1:13).  But the family doesn’t understand because that name isn’t one that honors any one in their family relationship.

 

v.64-6564And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. 65And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.

 

            The affliction that God placed upon Zacharias is removed and he speaks again.  He first praises God and then confirms what Elizabeth has said and that he had written on the tablet.

            Luke tells us that fear came upon those that dwelt in that part of Judah, what kind of fear are we talking about?  The kind of fear, awe or reverence that we should feel toward God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit; the kind of fear we should feel when we have undeniable evidence of a display of the divine power of God.

 

v.6666And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.”

 

            Everyone who heard these things about Elisabeth, Zacharias and John laid them up to memory.  They wondered just what kind of man this child would grow up to be as he was obviously given by God’s special intervention, carried a special name and apparently was brought into the world for a special purpose.

            And then the scripture tells us that the “HAND OF THE LORD WAS WITH HIM.”  Just as it was with Joseph, whom God gave for a special purpose:


 Genesis 39:22And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”

 

v.67-6867And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,”

 

            What was to be one of the signs of the coming of the Messiah and God’s salvation for all men?  Just as Peter tells us in his Pentecost sermon to validate the coming of Jesus; the ability of Mary, Elisabeth and Zacharias to speak under the direction of the Holy Spirit is also a manifestation of the sign that was promised in prophecy:  We typically think of this as only applying to the apostles and the first century church but in doing so we limit God.

 

Joel 2:2828And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:”

 

And the rest of this chapter is the prophecy of Zacharias; beginning with his declaration that this is a special blessing from God; a blessing at least equal to that of Solomon being named by God to succeed David:

 

I Kings 1:4848And also thus said the king, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it.”

 

He also speaks of the redemption of his people as the psalmist does:

 

Psalms 111:9-10 “HE SENT REDEMPTION UNTO HIS PEOPLE: HE HATH COMMANDED HIS COVENANT FOR EVER: HOLY AND REVEREND is HIS NAME.  THE FEAR OF THE LORD is THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM: A GOOD UNDERSTANDING HAVE ALL THEY THAT DO his commandments: HIS PRAISE ENDURETH FOR EVER.”

 

v.6969And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;”

 

            Zacharias refers to the prophesy that through the linage of David that a lamp, the light of the world, will come:

 

Psalms 132:17 “THERE WILL I MAKE THE HORN OF DAVID TO BUD: I HAVE ORDAINED A LAMP FOR MINE ANOINTED.”


 v.7070As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:”

 

            Zacharias refers to prophecies concerning not John his son but Christ the one for which John will prepare the way.  We find such in:

 

Jeremiah 23:5-65Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

 

Peter told his audience in Jerusalem that Jesus was preached to them through prophecy:

 

Acts 3:20-2120And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

 

v.71-7271That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;”

 

            The psalmist speaks of God’s remembrance of his people this way:

 

Psalms 105:8-10 “HE HATH REMBEBERED HIS COVENANT FOR EVER, THE WORD which HE COMMANDED TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS.  WHICH covenant HE MADE WITH ABRAHAM, AND HIS OATH UNTO ISAAC; AND CONFIRMED THE SAME UNTO JACOB FOR A LAW, and TO ISRAEL for AN EVERLASTING COVENANT.

 

v.73The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,”

 

            This covenant was sworn to Abraham by God under an oath:

 

Genesis 12:3  AND I WILL BLESS THEM THAT BLESS THEE, AND CURSE HIM THAT CURSETH THEE: AND IN THEE SHALL ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED.”

 

An oath that the Hebrew writer tells us since God could swear by no greater that he swore by himself.


 Hebrews 6:1313For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

 

v.74-7574That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.”

 

            Jesus would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies.  Was this the political freedom that the earthly Jews desired?  No, everything that Zacharias is speaking about in this prophecy is spiritual in nature.  The release of mankind from his enemies is our release from the power of Satan by the forgiveness of our sins, our spiritual redemption:

 

Romans 1:1818Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”

 

Romans 1:2222But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

 

            We have been released from the law of sin and death.  When we sin we die, spiritually; we are separated from God.  The coming of Jesus Christ and the herald that prepared his way, John the Baptizer, brought to mankind the means to be free from sin.  But at the same time we must become servants of God, obedient to his commandments.

 

v.76-7776And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,”

 

            Then speaking as it were to the child, John, Zacharias prophesies about his part in God’s plan, to prepare the way for the Son of God:

 

Isaiah 40:33The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

 

Malachi 4:11Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”


 Prophesy later confirmed by Jesus himself:

 

Matthew 11:1010For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

 

            John was to preach repentance and baptism for remission of sins, which he did:

 

Luke 3:33And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;”

 

Mark 1:44John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

 

v.78-7978Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

 

            The one to come was to give light.  This parallels the words of John and the words of Jesus that John was obviously referring to in I John:

 

I John 1:55This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

 

John 8:1212Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

 

And so ends the prophesy of Zacharias.

 

v.8080And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.

 

            Luke then records that the child, John, grew and became strong in spirit but was rather strange on one way.  He spent his time in the deserts until it was time for him to begin his ministry to Israel.

 

Matthew 3:11In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,