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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 1

Verses 1-4

  1. Intro:
    1. Growing up, we had a family physician who also was a close friend of the family, “Dr. McDonald.”
      1. In Col.4:14 we learn Luke’s occupation, “Luke the beloved physician”.
      2. Most importantly he had the compassion & warmth of a true family doctor.
      3. He was elderly man with a very dignified countenance, & was never w/o his signature “Bow Tie”!
      4. Throughout his letter we will also see his warmth & compassion as a doctor. [And he repeatedly stresses the warmth & compassion of Jesus]
    2. (At Pastors Prayer) Armando prayed for me, “that as Brian studies this gospel, that this gospel would study Brian!” (my prayer for all of us!)
    3. Book Overview: Lk.1& 2 = 30 yrs of Jesus’ life; Lk.3 - 19:28 = 3 yrs of Jesus’ life; Lk.19:29 - 24:53 = 1 week of Jesus’ life.
      1. Only 8% deals with Jesus life before ministry
      2. 25% deals with His last week before He died.
      3. It is the longest single book in the NT.
        1. Luke & Acts constitute 28% of the NT, making Luke the most prolific of its contributors. [2,138 vs; Paul wrote 2,033]
      4. It is written in the moist refined Greek in the NT, giving it unsurpassed literary richness & beauty!
      5. It contains 4 beautiful hymns: Mary’s Magnificat (the true Ave Maria); Zacharius’ Benedictus; the Gloria in Excelsis of the heavenly host;& the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon[“now dismiss”, “Im ready to be called home now”]
      6. Key Word: Jesus the Son of Man.
      7. Key Verse: 1:3,4 & 19:10 “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
        1. So not only Jews but Samaritans & Gentiles; poor & rich; respectable & despised; tax collectors & religious leaders.
      8. Key Chapter: Ch.15 captures in 3 parables, the lost sheep/coin/son is the crux of the gospel; that God through Christ has come to seek & save that which was lost.
      9. Those who believe His claims are challenged to count the cost of discipleship – Those who oppose will not be satisfied until the Son of Man hangs lifeless on a cross. (Talk Thru the Bible; Hendrickson; Pg.326.)
    4. Luke: A physician; prob. a Greek; a companion of Paul on some of his journeys. He writes as a Christian historian.
      1. He wrote 2 volumes which go together like 1 volume dealing w/the beginning & growth of the early church. – See Acts 1:1.
      2. They are records of journeys: His Travelogue! The Gospel of Luke (Jesus journeys to Jerusalem); And Acts{Luke part 2, or the Sequel!} (Paul’s journey to Rome)
      3. He writes with the Greeks in mind – thus he translates the Aramaic terms, & explains Jewish customs & geography.
        1. Thus he traces Jesus genealogy back, not to Abraham [Father of the Jews](Mt.), but back to Adam [father of all mankind]
      4. Legend says Luke was an artist (J.B.Phillips Into) - If so, he takes his brush & paints the portrait of a warm & compassionate Master, who loves the sinner, the outcast, the ragamuffins of this world!
      5. An Ancient tradition says that Luke was from Syrian Antioch, remained unmarried, & died at the age of 84.
      6. You can tell Luke loves people: by the portraits of Zacharias, the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the repentant tax collectorZaccheus, the 2 disciples on the Emmaus rd.
      7. He gave a special place to women in his writings: “Elizabeth, Mary, Anna, Martha & Mary, Bernice, Candace, Damaris, Dorcas, Drusilla, Joanna, Lydia, Priscilla, Sapphira, & Susanna.”
      8. He gave a special place to children in his writings: e.g. the child hood of John & Jesus.
  2. DEDICATED TO THEOPHILUS! (1-4)
    1. SOURCES OF INFORMATION! (1,2)
    2. Many others have written also – Though not in any way complete accounts. Only on a few aspects of the gospel.
    3. Eyewitnesses & ministers–To what? He presents Jesus as the Son of Man.
      1. ​​​​​​​Jesus, the most human of us all! – See, our humanity isn’t a liability it’s an asset!
      2. Let me quote from Rebecca Pippert, Out of the Salt Shaker, “Jesus gives us permission to be human. Yet we struggle to believe that God intends for us to be fully human…we’re afraid that being made of flesh & blood meets with divine disapproval. The fact that we love to laugh, take a walk w/a friend, sip tea, & read a good book for the sheer pleasure of it is probably regarded from on high, we fear, w/a cosmic frown. We forget that it was God’s idea, not ours, to make us human. How do we discover what it means to be authentically human? We look to Jesus.” [He is irresistible!]
    4. THE PURPOSE IN WRITING! (3)
    5. Had perfect understanding – Accurately followed. Carefully investigated.
      1. He establishes his credibility as a historian. He reveals his care & expertise.
      2. Investigative Bible Study –
      3. Q: Where’s the Holy Spirit in all this Luke?
      4. Read Heb.1:1,2
        1. “In many ways” ways God spoke to his servants!
      5. Sometimes God used: direct oracles/dictation (i.e. “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write…”). - Other times ordinary historical research(as in the case of Luke) - Still other times he used Q & A; allegory’s acted out; preaching; signs.
      6. To Moses @ Sinai in thunder & lightening & w/the voice of thunder. To Elijah in a still small voice. To Ezekiel by visions. To Daniel by dreams. To Abram in human form. To Jacob as an angel. (Kent Hughes; pg.21)
      7. Jesus speaks of men who remember His words & deeds that would be made completely accurate by the Holy Spirit as he brought things to their remembrance à Jn.14:25, 26 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
        1. Jesus also said in Jn.15:20 “If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.”
        2. Prov.30:5 “Every word of God is pure” (flawless, tested, proves true)
      8. Since God spoke so clearly it caused men & women to live on a higher plane.
        1. Abraham had the faith to sacrifice his son; Moses to w/stand Pharaoh; David to go against Goliath; & Daniel to achieve & maintain integrity in Babylon!
      9. Yet Gods communication to man was still fragmented & lacking… until he spoke by His Son!
      10. So Luke wrote his gospel under the inspiration of the H.S. after he had carefully researched the life of Jesus Christ! (Warren Wiersbe; Outlines; Luke Intro.)
        1. From the very 1st – also translated “from above”.
    6. Orderly account – He wanted to give an accurate & authoritative account of the birth, life, teaching, death, & resurrection of Jesus.
    7. Theophilus – [Θεόφιλος [Theophilos] – God/friend {friend of God}
      1. Both of Luke’s books are addressed to Theophilus.
      2. Probably a Roman believer. Possibly an official (most excellent) who needed grounding in the faith.
        1. Or, may have been an open-minded seeker.
        2. Maybe struggling w/his association in a movement that had Jewish origins.
    8. A TRUTHFUL RECORD! (4)
    9. Certainty – Luke wrote so Theophilus would know the truth & certainty of the Christian Gospel! (for you too!)
      1. Though we live in a world where relativism is pushed & absolutes have been shelved, yet we still need more than ever “Certainty”!
      2. It’s so important to know What we believe, & Why we believe them!
    10. “A man who lived on Long Island was able one day to satisfy a lifelong ambition by purchasing for himself a very fine barometer. When the instrument arrived at his home, he as extremely disappointed to find that the indicating needle appeared to be stuck, pointing to the sector marked‘HURRICANE.’ After shaking the barometer very vigorously several times, its new owner sat down and wrote a scorching letter to the store from which he had purchased the instrument. The following morning on the way to his office in New York, he mailed the letter. That evening he returned to Long Island to find not only the barometer missing, but his house also.The barometer’s needle had been right--there was a hurricane!” (Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.)
    11. Jumping at conclusions is not ½ a good exercise as digging for facts!
    12. Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
    13. Instructed – this Gk. word gives us our word “catechize” [to instruct orally]
      1. So Theophilus may have been a “Catechumen” [1 receive relig instruct]
    14. Luke: A close observer, excellent writer, painstaking historian, self-effacing chronicler, well trained physician, earnest Christian worker, & faithful friend.
    15. Q: What are you pouring yourself into at this time in order to have good answers, reasons, explanations?
    16. Q: Who are you pouring yourself into. Who is your Theophilus?

Verses 5-25

  1. Intro:
    1. Q: How did you announce the birth of your baby?
      1. Yet, this really isn’t a Birth announcement, but a Conception announcement!
      2. At Hope Starr’s 5th B-day party a few weeks ago(Desi’s daughter) Hope stood before the family & friends & announced, “Thank you forcoming to my B-day party & my mommy has a baby in her tummy!”
    2. 1st of 4 important visits.
  2. THE PROMISE OF LITTLE JOHN! (5-25)
    1. Zacharias in the Temple! (5-10)
    2. (5-7) The days of Herod the Great were not the best of days for the Jewish people.
      1. But this priest & his wife prayed & served God in spite of the discouragements.
    3. They were both righteous in the best sense of the word.
    4. The worship of God, in private prayer, in family devotion, in public exercises, is a serious & imp. part of a good man’s experience. (Pulpit Commentary; pg.20 of Luke.)
      1. They walked in these things! – Divine truth is important; yet if we know these things, happy are we only if we do them! (Rev William Jay)
        1. ​​​​​​​Practice is nothing w/o Principle!
      2. Zacharias (Jehovah has remembered); Elizabeth (My God is an oath).​​​​​​​
      3. Their righteousness was in the sight of God & not just in appearance as in the case of some Pharisees. (New American Commentary; Robert Stein; Libronix.)
      4. “Both” for nothing could be more desirable & important than the godliness of both parties!
        1. How can 2 walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)
    5. Blameless(6) yet barren(7)!
      1. Barren like: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, & Samson’s mother.
    6. (7) Both advanced in years – being past their childbearing age.
      1. Which points to the human impossibility of the coming events.
      2. (BBC News) The closest man has come so far was in Romania last December w/the 66 year old Adriana Iliescu. She holds the record of the oldest woman to birth a child. (She was artificially inseminated)
    7. (8-10) While he was serving – His disappointment at not having a son did not keep Zacharias from serving the Lord. (www)
      1. This is the blessedness of duty!
      2. We need to be faithful.
      3. We never know when God’s angel may arrive! J
      4. Interesting, that Luke’s opening & closing scene in his gospel takes place in the Temple. (See Lk.24:53)
      5. So there we find Zacharias clothed in his spotless robe, w/his head covered, shoes off. This holy man & elect priest disappears w/in the golden doors of the Holy Place.
        1. As he enters he sees only a few things in this room. The golden candlestick(menorah), the table of show bread, & the altar of incense.
        2. On the altar is the sacred flame. Taking a censor full of incense he pours it on the perpetual altar-fire & says, “Lord, let my prayer come before you as incense; & the lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Ps.141:2)
        3. Smelled great! – Ex.30:34-38.
    8. (9) His lot fell to burn the incense – (he was chosen by lot)
      1. It was the providence of God That Zacharias was chosen to burn the incense, for this ministry came to a man once in a lifetime.
        1. Providence? Why?
      2. He was a priest. He belonged to the section/division of Abijah. Every direct descendant of Aaron was automatically a priest. They were divided into 24 sections. Only at Passover/Pentecost/Feast ofTab did all the priests serve.
        1. For the rest of the year each course served a week at a time, twice a year.
        2. Priests who loved their work looked forward to that week of service above all things; it was the highlight of their lives. (William Barclay)
      3. A priest could marry only a woman of absolutely pure Jewish lineage. It was especially meritorious to marry a woman who was also a descendant of Aaron. (i.e. Elizabeth)
      4. They guess some 24,000 priests at this time! [All the duties were allocated by lot]
      5. Before the morning sacrifice & after the evening sacrifice incense was burnt on the altar of incense so that, as it were, the sacrifices might go up to God wrapped in an envelope of sweet-smelling incense.
        1. Read Ex.30:7,8.
      6. It was quite possible that many priests would never have the privilege of burning incense all his life.
        1. If it did fall upon him it was the greatest day of his life, the day he dreamed of.
        2. I remember in 8th grade I was asked to be in charge of all the altar boys in my Catholic church. I was honored. And my mama was proud!
      7. Thus, it was the providence of God That Zacharias was chosen to burn the incense, for this ministry came to a man maybe once in a lifetime!
    9. (10) Note, Luke always highlights major events as always being associated with prayer!
    10. Birth Announcement! (11-17)
    11. An angel of the Lord appeared – Angels are mentioned 23 x’s in Luke.
      1. Only 2 are named in Scripture – Gabriel & Michael.
    12. On the right side of the altar – on the favored side. Between the altar & the Candelabra(Plummer/LKGNT).
      1. It’s quiet, private, no one else is allowed in there.
      2. Then he just appears, not saying anything. (Ahhhh!)
    13. (13) After 400 years of Prophetic laryngitis, known as the Intertestimental period…finally words from heaven!
      1. ​​​​​​​And how gracious a word it is - “Do not be afraid…” (or, fear not)
      2. This phrase is found many 7 x’s in Luke.
    14. They believed in & practiced prayer!
      1. “Your prayer is heard!”
      2. Ps.130:6 “My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning - Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.”
      3. Matthew Henry – “Prayers are filed in heaven, & are not forgotten though the thing prayed for is not presently given us. The time as well as the thing is the answer; & God’s gift always transcends the measure of the promise.”
      4. This prayer will be answered but in a richer sense than Zacharias & Elizabeth ever dreamed!
    15. Call his name John – Jehovah has been gracious. “The Grace of God
    16. (14) Joy & gladness – Just as Jesus’ birth would bring joy, so did John’s.
      1. This joy was not just personal feeling, but the eschatological joy brought by the arrival of the Messianic age. (New American Commentary; Robert Stein; Libronix.)
      2. Joy/Rejoiced – 19 x’s in Luke.
    17. The Revelation:
      1. He will be called John(13,14)
      2. He will be come a Nazarite(15)
      3. He will serve as the Messiah’s forerunner(16,17)
        1. He would have the privilege to introduce the Messiah to the nation! “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”
      4. 1st his character than his conduct!
      5. John’s bio would read, “forerunner, reconciler, reformer, preacher!”
    18. (15) Shall drink neither wine nor drink – Denoted any intoxicating beverage prepared from either grain or fruit.
      1. In the original language – “nothing from Jack Daniels to Boones Farm”!
    19. Nazarite vow? (maybe, other requirements not mentioned/cutting hair, etc.); Or, referring to living an ascetic life(7:33 he came neither eating or drinking);Or in reference to Lev.10:8-11… “Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”
    20. (17) The importance of this announcement is evident by its coming from an authoritative messenger, by its allusions to Scripture, & by its later fulfillment.
      1. Note: Jesus is already called Lord here!
    21. Spirit & power of Elijah - Elijah is mentioned 30 x’s in the NT. [10 relate him to John the Baptist]
    22. Zacharias, Faithful to Faithless, to Speechless! (18-25)
    23. (18) Zacharias had the faith to keep on praying; but when the answer came he did not have the faith to accept it.
      1. He looked at his limitations rather than God’s great power.
      2. It was a situation & question similar to Abraham’s (Isaac/Gen.17:17), but he lacked Abraham’s faith!
      3. The angel’s prophecy must have seemed too good to be true.
        1. So he asked, “How can I be sure of this?”
    24. Q: What unbelief do you struggle with?
      1. Q: Do you have your limitations or Gods great power in yur sights?
      2. Q: Why should have Zacharias believed? Q: Why should we?
    25. (19) I stand in the presence of God – This statement gives additional weight & a sense of truthfulness to what Gabriel was saying.
    26. (19,20) Unbelief produces silence!
      1. 2 Cor.4:13 “It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”(from Ps.116:10) With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak,”
      2. As unbelief produces silence; faith opens your mouth in praise to God! (Warren Wiersbe; With The Word; pg.669.)
      3. Interesting, the father of him who would be the voice” of one crying in the wilderness!
      4. But what was it that he couldn’t proclaim? – Yes about the miracle of his wife’s pregnancy, they’re going to have a man child!
        1. But even worse, he couldn’t herald the good news he’s waited for his whole life(as all Jews had) the news that God was about to send the Messiah to the world!!!
        2. Look at the emphasis about his Prophecy in 1:67-79. 2.26.4.2.1.Only 2 verses given for his boy.
      5. It was a “punitive miracle” but contained the promise “which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
    27. (20) My translation!(BBV – Brian Bell Version) – “You want a sign? I’ll give you a sign!”
      1. ​​​​​​​You didn’t believe what was spoken to you by the lord, & now you are unable to repeat it to others.
      2. “For the Lord will not employee unbelieving messengers.” (Spurgeon)
      3. Q: Is there any unbelief in your life that has sealed your mouth shut? (Is this why we don’t share the good news as often as we should?)
    28. Which will be fulfilled in there own time –
      1. Matthew Henry, “We can depend on God to fulfill His promise, even when all the roads leading to it are closed.”
    29. (21,22) Upon leaving the temple, Zechariah is unable to pronounce the priestly blessing for the waiting crowd.
      1. Often the priest would come to the railing, separating the court of the priest & the court of the Israelites, & pronounce a blessing upon the people after the evening sacrifice & after the incense had been burned.
      2. Luke 1:62 implies that he couldn’t hear either.
    30. (23-25) 5 months? – no custom speaks to this.
      1. Q: What was going on in Zach & Lizzy’s home during all this time?
        1. No altar to minister at, no neighbors to talk to, no tongue to even talk with! Wife with morning sickness? No words but what could be scribbled, glances of tears & smiles.
        2. Screaming quietness!
      2. The Grace of God”(John) Elizabeth’s holy secret!
      3. Some have suggested that she went into seclusion in order to avoid reproach from skeptical neighbors during the time when she “wasn’t showing!”
      4. Even Mary was ignorant of her pregnancy(1:36).
    31. The barren Elizabeth soon becomes pregnant.
      1. She already was experiencing, in anticipation, the joy & gladness of which Gabriel spoke.
    32. Praise is addressed to God for what He has done…“The Lord has done this for me”(NIV).
      1. Thus the emphasis on the Blessor rather than on the Blessing!
    33. What an honor for this elderly couple to be the parents of the last & greatest of the prophets.
      1. Lk.7:28 “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist...”

Verses 26-38

  1. Intro:
    1. Some World Leaders have said, “I’ll bring in an army!” God says, “I’ll bring in a child!” {Thus we have God’s special announcement to the world!}
    2. Many of the world's well-known personalities, both actual and mythical, have claimed a miraculous birth.
      1. The Greeks said Perseus was the son of Zeus (Jupiter), and that his mother was Danaides, a virgin.
      2. Jupiter, the king of gods in Roman mythology, was called Zeus by the ancient Greeks. He was also called Olympian because it was believed he lived on Greece's Mount Olympus. According to mythology, Jupiter came down from heaven in a shower of gold.
      3. According to a Hindu myth, Krishna was the son of a virgin Davaki.
      4. And the Greeks said that Alexander the Great, the son of Philip of Macedon and Olympias, was begotten by a serpent. His mother fired young Alexander's imagination by telling him that he was a descendant of Achilles and that his father, Philip, was a descendant of Hercules. [That‘ll make a kid want to conquer the world!]
      5. It was believed by the Romans that Caesar Augustus, the first of the Roman emperors and the one sitting upon Rome's throne when Jesus was born, was conceived by a serpent as Augustus's mother lay asleep in the temple of Apollo.
        1. These fables believed by ancients failed to compare, however, with the birth of Jesus Christ. Conceived by the virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the sinless Savior!
    3. The Gospel of Luke doesn’t start with “Once upon a time” (Lk.1:1).
    4. He had already visited Zacharias regarding his wife Elizabeth’s conception of John the Baptist.
      1. Here we are 6 months later, & Gabriel is on his 2nd earth mission!
  2. MARY’S HEAVENLY VISIT! (26-38)
    1. MARY’S MESSENGER! (26-28)
    2. (27) Mary – probably a teen(Jewish girls married young)
      1. She was engaged to “a carpenter named Joe”(Joseph).
      2. We immediately are introduced to her Purity!
    3. (28) The Greeting!
    4. Rejoice, highly favored one – What an honor to be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah!
      1. Literally translated, “Grace, you who are highly graced!”
      2. Although she was a godly woman, it was God’s grace, not Mary’s character, that made her God’s choice.
        1. Highly favored – is used of “all” God’s people in Eph.1:6 “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”
          1. [made us = He bestowed grace or favor upon us]
    5. The Lord is with you –
    6. Blessed are you among women – (not in newer MSS)
      1. Mary is blessed among women but not above women!
    7. MARY’S MESSAGE! (29-33)
    8. (29) Troubled – The preposition compound intensifies the verb “she was thoroughly confused [(RWP) LKGNT]
      1. Considered – to reckon up different reasons. (RWP)
        1. She was expectant of it (w/attitude)“well it’s about time!”
    9. (30) Do not be afraid – Why not? Because the message of salvation replaces fear with joy! (Rejoice! Vs.28)
    10. (31) Jesus! – The 1st use of His name.
      1. It’s an Aromatic name - Inexpressibly fragrant; a delicious perfume
      2. It was a Common name – for he is the people’s Christ!
      3. It’s the Best name - Bernard said, “the name of Jesus is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, & joy in the heart.” (Spurgeon; Great Sermons on the Birth,etc.; pg.28)
      4. It’s the Most Appropriate name – The Father could name him well, for He knew him!
      5. It indicates His Main Work – “you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Mt.1:21
        1. There is no really knowing our Lord w/o knowing Him as Savior; for He is that, or nothing!!!
        2. Those who fall short of His salvation do not even know his name!
      6. It was sent by an angel - And how Gabriel must have delighted in bring it! – “I have it” “I have it” “the name Moses was asking for” (if they say, “What is His name”, what shall I tell them? “I AM WHO I AM”) “I’ve got His name…It’s JESUS!!!”
      7. It is His Name For Ever
        It was His Birth name (call His name Jesus)
        It was His Home name (what they called him around the house)
        It was the name on His Cross (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews)
        It is His Gospel name (Peter preached, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”)
        It is His Heavenly name (Jesus even signs off with it in Rev.22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star”)
      8. Jesus is the way to God, therefore will we preach Him? Jesus is the truth, therefore will we hear of Him? Jesus is the life, therefore shall our hearts rejoice in Him?
    11. (32,33) Note: He will be great…not “they…”
    12. The coming of the Son of God to earth involved not only our personal salvation but also the fulfilling of God’s promises to His people Israel. (Willmington’s Guide to the Bible; pg.612)
      1. To spiritualize these promises is to rob the Jews of what God has promised them.
      2. If Gabriel’s words in vs.30,31 are to be taken literally, so should his words in vs.32,33!
    13. MARY’S MYSTERY! (34)
    14. Unlike Zacharias, Mary believed God would do what He promised [vs45]
      1. She asked, “How will(lit. trans) this be” not “How can this be”.
    15. MARY’S METHOD! (35)
    16. The miracle of the virgin birth was not the actual birth, but the conception of Christ’s earthly body. (Willmington’s Guide to the Bible; pg.612)
      1. This conception was not only supernatural, but unique also, for God had already performed supernatural births for “Sarah, Hannah,Elizabeth & others.” (ibid)
      2. The Son of the Most High God umbilically tied to a lowly Jewish girl! (Ken Gire; Intimate Moments w/the Savior; pg.4.)
    17. Charles Wesley sang about this, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead See, Hail the incarnate Deity”. [Hark the Herald Angels Sing, 2nd Stanza]
      1. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man.
      2. By a real human birth becomes a Member of our race as well as its Creator.
      3. The Unseen becomes seen – God emerges from heavenly hiddenness, into earthly visibility. (J. Sidlow Baxter; Awake My Heart; Oct.30th; pg.320.)
        1. The incomprehensible SOMEONE - becomes the approachable, touchable, understandable JESUS!
      4. The Distant becomes near – See Him at the carpenters bench; sitting at the well; weeping at the grave of Lazarus; on the cross …He is near!
      5. The Creator becomes Savior – The greatest fact of all!
        1. A poor women’s prayer in the Welsh Revival: “Dear Savior, I think There he is on the cross with his arms outstretched to show that there is a welcome for everyone.
    18. How? Overshadowed - God came, & planted the secret genes of God!
      1. fdgdfg
      2. “He stretched skin over spirit like a rubber glove, aligning Trinity with bone, twining through veins until Deity square-knotted flesh.” (Marjorie Maddox Phifer)
      3. Check out the J.W. New World Translation Mt.1:23. (not, a god?)
      4. God has 4 ways to make a body: (that we know of)
      5. [1] Out of clay – As he did Adam.
      6. [2] Out of man – As with Eve.
      7. [3] Out of woman married to man – As in every normal human birth.
      8. [4] Out of woman without man – As with the birth of Christ.
    19. EVIDENCES FOR THE VIRGIN BIRTH!
      1. The Scriptures verify it! - All the manuscripts in all the ancient versions contain the record of it.
      2. Tradition confirms it! - The traditions of the early church & the early church fathers recognize it. (Like Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Tatian, etc.)
      3. The Creeds substantiate it! - Even the earliest of Creeds “The Apostles Creed” holds to its belief.
        1. “Conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary” is what it declares.
      4. Jesus’ perfect, sinless, flawless life attests to it!
      5. We have 2 millennium full of hymns & liturgies of the Greek, Roman, & Protestant church that verify the Virgin birth!
      6. We also have the story of the Virgin Birth enshrined in the art& architect & literature of Christendom!
    20. MARY’S MIRACULOUS GOD ! (36-37)
    21. (36) How nice to immediately go spend time with someone that would understand. [3 months, vs.56. Prob thought, “I got to get back before Christmas!”]
    22. (37) For with God [not God & Mary] nothing will be impossible –
      1. (J.B.Phillips) “For no promise of God can fail to be fulfilled.”
    23. MARY’S SUBMISSION! (38)
    24. She responded with trust/belief & now with submission!
    25. I’m the Lord’s servant, & I’m willing to accept whatever he desires.
      1. Q: Are you prepared similarly to ask the Lord to fulfill His word in you?
      2. Q: Can “Let it be to me” be your motto?
    26. Wrap Up! - 2 Cor.5:19 “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them”
    27. If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator;
      If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist;
      If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist;
      If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer;
      But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
    28. Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts: the gift of God to man - his Son; and the gift of man to God - when we 1st give ourselves to God. (Vance Havner)
      1. Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man!

Verses 39-56

  1. Intro:
    1. Last week we looked at the virgin birth/conception of Jesus.
      1. It was necessary for God to cut off the evil which has been carried down from the 1st father of our race.
      2. Rom.5:12 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
  2. ELIZABETH’S BLESSING! (39-45)
    1. VISITING THE MOTHER OF THE BAPTIST! (39-45)
    2. Bouncing Babies! (39-41)
    3. (39) Zacharias & Elizabeth lived in one of the priestly cities (Joshua 21).
      1. So Mary travels from northern Israel (Nazareth) to a country house a few miles outside of Jerusalem.
    4. (41) I don’t know about the “Ten Lord’s a leapin!” but we do have… “One babe-a-bouncin!”
      1. As soon as she heard the greeting (i.e. “Peace be to thee!” with which religious Jews greeted each other)
    5. Filled w/the H.S. – As soon as Mary greeted her she was filled w/the H.S. & spoke as a prophetess.
    6. Big Blessings! (42-45) [to consider blessed, happy, fortunate]
      1. Mary, you are blessed (42)
      2. I’m blessed (43)
      3. Baby Baptist is blessed (44)
      4. And again you are blessed (45)
    7. (43) This scene reinforced the theme of superiority of Mary’s son to Elizabeth’s son. (Shepherd’s Notes; pg.7.)
      1. See, Elizabeth was in a higher social position than Mary. (H.P.Liddon; Great Sermons on the Birth, Death, & Res of Christ by Smith; pg.91.)
    8. The mother of my Lord – Sometimes we Protestants can get uptight about wrong things. (i.e. Hail Mary)
      1. What’s wrong with the Hail Mary? – Almost every line is from Lk 1.
      2. “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, & blessed is thy fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now & at the hour of our death.” Amen. {mother of God isn’t the issue, it’s the last line! – i.e. praying to the dead to intercede for us}
    9. (45) It was Mary’s faith that was notable more than anything else.
      1. Yet again, she was the recipient of grace, not the source of grace!
      2. Her blessedness was the blessedness of one who became a willing channel of divine blessings to others.
        1. “Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.” (Warren Wiersbe; On Being a Servant of God; pg.4.)
        2. [1] Know the divine resources personally
          1. See the human needs compassionately
          2. Become channels of God’s mighty resources so that
          3. God alone is glorified.
  3. MARY’S MAGNIFICAT! (46-55)
    1. ​​​​​​​Elizabeth touched off a secret spring in the illuminated soul of Mary
      1. I pray that I can touch off a gusher in someone’s life like this 1 day!
      2. And though she’s responding to Elizabeth, she immediately turns the eye of her soul upward!!!
    2. Mary bustin out a song? Q: Wait, what does she have to sing about?
      1. A pregnant unwed teen from Nazareth, engaged to marry a poor carpenter…people talking…What did Mary have to sing about?
    3. Have you asked yourself, “What have I to sing about???”
      1. Q: How did Mary do it? - Mary rose above her situation!
      2. She held to Job’s counsel, “when the Lord gives(even unexpected babies)…Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
        1. Ps: For those of you who have grown up w/the dark shadow knowing you weren’t a “planned baby”(some even have callously called it a “mistake”) rest assured, from Mary’s vantage point Jesus surely wasn’t “planned”…but wasn’t He? You know He was!!!
    4. A pregnant teen from Nazareth, engaged to marry a poor carpenter… Q: What did Mary have to sing about? She sang about her Lord!
      1. ​​​​​​​It is both a song of present joy & a prophecy of future days.
      2. Mary knew the Scriptures - Mary’s song contains at least 15 OT quotations from or allusions in her song.
        1. Especially Psalms; & Hannah’s song that she’s known from infancy (1 Sam.2).
        2. Mary hid God’s Word in her heart! And turned it into a song!
      3. The song is called “Mary’s Magnificat”, after the Latin word for Magnify.
        1. Magnificat anima mea Dominum - My soul magnifies the Lord!
        2. Like the Psalmist said, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.” [Ps 34:1-3]
      4. Her great desire was to magnify the Lord…NOT herself!
        1. There are 20 references to God in her song.
        2. She praises God 8 x’s for what He has done (see “He has”)
    5. My soul magnifies the Lord – what a motto to grasp for life!
      1. Magnify = glorifies; exalts; make large; honor highly; to declare His greatness; to make Him great in the eyes of others!
      2. That we would wake up & magnify God!
      3. That we would eat & drink to magnify God!
      4. That we would work to magnify God!
      5. That we would play sports to magnify God!
      6. That we would go to school to magnify God!
      7. That we would chose our career to magnify God!
    6. Not only is Mary pregnant herself, but her song is Pregnant with Praise unto God!
      1. Praise for what God did for Mary, & us, & Israel!
    7. WHAT GOD DID FOR MARY! (47-49)
    8. [1] GOD SAVED HER! (47)
      1. Angels don’t need a Savior for they have nothing in which to be saved from. (They were created perfect beings)
      2. An Angel couldn’t & wouldn’t call Jesus “my Savior”.
        1. They would call Him “my creator, my God, my originator, my maker,” but not my Savior.
        2. Only one who needs saving would refer to Him as Savior.
      3. God my Savior - This indicates then that Mary was a sinner like all of us, & needed to trust the Lord for eternal salvation.
    9. [2] GOD HAD CHOSEN HER! (48)
      1. He has regarded her – means He was mindful of her, looked w/favor on her.
        1. He could have chosen others…but he chose her!
        2. As Gabriel said, “you have found favor w/God!”
        3. And so, her chosen womb became the holy of holies for the Son of God!
      2. Lowly state – She contrasts her nothingness to His magnificence!
        1. CD I’m listening to on “Organizational Leadership” - “I’m Omni-nothing & He’s omni-everything!”
    10. [3] GOD WAS MIGHTY FOR HER! (49)
      1. God was mighty for her, He was working on her behalf.
      2. Mary Believed God & submitted to His will.
        1. She Believed – (1:45)
        2. She Submitted – (1:38)
        3. She Committed herself to Him - body(38) soul(46) spirit(47).
          1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What an example for us to follow!
      3. Q: What has God done for you? How has he shown Himself mighty on your behalf?
    11. WHAT GOD DID FOR US! (50-53)
    12. In her 2nd stanza she includes all of God’s people who fear Him from generation to generation.
    13. God showed mercy to 3 specific groups:
      1. [1] To the Helpless(51) [2] To the Humble(52) [3] To the Hungry(53)
      2. This is God turning the world upside down or, right side up!
        1. This is 1 of Luke’s major emphases: The Theme of Reversal.
        2. The proud He makes to run away; the weak He lifts up; the mighty he removes from their manmade thrones; the hungry they shall be filled; those that think they were rich walk away realizing they were always empty!
      3. The Church is very similar to those who rallied around David, “everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them.” [Oh the grace & mercy of God!]
    14. Q: Do you fear God? Do you have a healthy reverence for Him?
      1. Turn to Him & watch His Mighty Arm at work!
    15. Q: So who is God looking to use today?
    16. WHAT GOD DID FOR ISRAEL! (54,55)
    17. Despite Israel’s continuing to turn from God’s path, they still were His people &He’d help them fulfill His purposes.
      1. God was on Israel’s side!
      2. He would remember His mercy. He would keep His promises.
    18. Note the “forever” part…He is not through with Israel.
    19. (56) Well, Mary stayed with Elizabeth probably until John was born(or rt before), then headed back home.
      1. By then she was clearly pregnant. No doubt the talk was going to start. “No wonder she left in such a hurry!”
      2. It was then God gave Joseph the good news & instructed him what to do. (Mt.1:18-25)
      3. I bet Mary sang her song over & over to remind herself of God’s Goodness! “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name!”
    20. Q: Are you fearful? Anxious? Perplexed? Not sure about the future? Are people talking about you? Sing! – Go ahead, Let your soul magnify the lord! - Let your spirit rejoice in God your Savior!
    21. “Good Christian men, rejoice, With heart, & soul, & voice; Now ye hear of endless bliss: Jesus Christ was born for this.”

Verses 57-80

  1. Intro:
    1. Importance of our prayer meetings at end of month.
  2. WRITING & WORSHIPING! (57-66)
    1. WRITING! (57-63)
    2. They made signs (62) – to nod, to signal by nodding.
      1. Zacharias was obviously not only voiceless but couldn’t hear either.
    3. Writing tablet (63) – a small wooden tablet covered w/a film of wax. (LKGNT pg.141)
    4. The naming of a child! (59-61)
      1. On the 8th day the boy was circumcised and received his name. Girls could be named any time within 30 days of their birth. (William Barclay; Lk.1:57-66)
      2. Often times friends & local musicians would be gathered near the house. When the birth was announced, the musicians broke into music & song!
      3. In biblical tradition, the task of naming the child generally fell to the mother. (Shepherds Notes; pg.8) [Gen.29-30 Rachel & Leah name their 12 boys; Hannah/Samuel]
        1. It could be performed by the father, & in exceptional cases by nonparental figures.
      4. To know a persons name was to know their essence or character.
    5. Names were descriptive.
      1. They sometimes described a circumstance attending the birth - Esau & Jacob (Gen 25:25–26 red/heal catcher).
      2. They sometimes described the child - Laban (means white or blonde)
      3. Sometimes the child received the parental name.
      4. The name can described the parents’ joy - Saul and Samuel both mean asked for.
      5. Sometimes the name was a declaration of the parent’s faith. Elijah for instance, means Jehovah is my God.
      6. Personal names might express hopes for the child’s future.
        1. Changing of names revealed a transformation in character or destiny.
    6. John? – shorter form of the name Jehohanan, which means Jehovah’s gift or God is gracious.
      1. I bet all the musicians slid off their instruments at this!
        1. Or maybe they all shifted from a major to a minor cord.
      2. I hear the violins screech, & the harps all breaking strings!
      3. But it was the name which God had ordered to be given to the child and it described the parent’s gratitude for an unexpected joy.
    7. WORSHIPING! (64-66)
    8. Wow! 9 months of silence to consider, muse, ponder, pray, & meditate on God & on Scripture.
      1. And as we do God seems to always turn our marks of sin into memorials of grace! – “And where sins abounded grace did much more abound!”
      2. Q: What would it mean for you & your life to be silent for 9 months?
        1. No more sharing/teaching/or preaching, no counseling, no singing…but lots more seeing! [It heightens all other senses!]
        2. A lot more looking into your spouse & children’s eyes.
        3. A lot more reading of great books.
        4. A lot more writing/journaling/poems/letters thoughts about life.
        5. A lot more prayer & meditation on the Word.
        6. All in absolute silence. I pray I would use that time as wisely as it seemed Zacharias did!
          1. He came out filled w/the H.S. & singing what has come to be known as the Benedictus.
    9. They wondered, “what special destiny awaited this child?”
      1. There’s a parental challenge à What are you asking or praying for your children?
      2. Help them to look to their future by asking questions, & praying with them to seek what God would have them to do or be.
        1. So they don’t just end up “making a buc” but instead, “making a difference”!
      3. “Every child is a bundle of possibilities!” [Tell them that parents]
        1. The real, “No child left behind!”
  3. A HORN & A DAYSPRING! (67-80)
    1. ​​​​​​​A HORN! (67-75)
    2. Thanks to God for the coming of Messiah! (67-70)
    3. Blessed – (Latin = Benedictus)
    4. The 1st half of this song weaves together several OT promises that are fulfilled in the Messiah’s coming.
      1. Thus he is praising God for fulfilling His promises to His people.
    5. The Purpose of the Messiah’s coming! (71-75)
    6. Note: David covenants are fulfilled in Him(68-72); & also Abrahams covenants(73-75).
      1. God keeps His promises & is faithful to His covenants.
    7. Visited & redeemed is the major theme of this hymn of praise!
      1. God was visiting His people, but Jesus will later rebuke them because “they didn’t know the time of their visitation” (19:44).
        1. Q: Would you like a visit from Jesus over to your house?
        2. I can arrange it this morning, I have connections! (serious)
      2. Matter of fact I can do one better for you this morning!
        1. I can promise not only a visit, but He will set up permanent residence in your hearts home!
        2. But…He only comes if He can move in & never leave!
    8. Horn of salvation – one who is strong to save. {Not a musical instrument!}
      1. The horn of an animal is its strength.
        1. Story - Dean & I went Quail hunting at in Anza. Why do they keep saying they’ll put away the animals? Were not going to miss & shot them? (Largest Bulls I’ve ever seen!!!) [Big Horns]
        2. Ps.18:1,2 “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
          1. Shield, defensive weapon; Horn, offensive!
    9. THE HIGHEST & THE LORD! (76,77)
    10. The Mission of John! (76,77)
    11. Only two verses about John “you child” but really describes more about Christ.
      1. John will prepare the way of the Lord(76) & proclaim the words of the Lord(77).
    12. Remission/forgiveness of their sins- Do you realize, estrangement from God is turned to friendship!
      1. The distant God…becomes near!
      2. The God we feared…is become the lover of the souls of men!
    13. A DAYSPRING! (78,79)
    14. Further picture of Messiah’s coming! (78,79)
    15. Dayspring – sunrise, or dawn. A celestial luminary.
      1. The springing of the day is produced, & only can be produced, by the rising of the sun!
      2. As we only have 1 sun in nature, so we only have 1 Sun in Grace!
      3. Read Mal.4:2 “But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings;”
        1. True believers will see the dawning of a new day, as the “Sun of Righteousness” arises.
      4. Explain the common Sun Disk: (A sun with wings, depicting its rays).
      5. This has been found on at least 16 plates & many monuments in the Near East (esp. in Egypt, Syria, & Assyria).
        1. The winged sun usually presides over the event recorded.
    16. Q: Why do you think Jesus would be given this title?
      1. Q: What of the Sun…reminds you of Christ?
      2. It’s Consistent; It’s Center of our solar system; Its Vastness; It’s Burning (Enough hydrogen is left in sun's core to last another 4.5 bill yrs);It’s Beauty & Glory; It’s Source of life…it causes to grow or wither; it’s Source of light; It’s Warmth;Both its Rising & Setting is the finest spectacle in creation.
      3. This is also where Charles Wesley got the 3rd stanza in “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”… “Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light & life to all he brings, Risen with healing in his wings.”
      4. Ps.84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield;”
      5. In Christ, a new day has dawned! Christ has borne your curse. Come! Warm yourself in the light of His forgiveness & healing. (Chuck Swindoll; pg.114,115)
    17. It was the dawning of a new day! [Because Messiah was about to be born]
      1. A new day for you to dedicate your life to Jesus!
      2. A new day for you to rededicate yourself to Him!
      3. A new day for Hope!
    18. To give light – to those in darkness!
      1. When someone turns off the light when you’re in a pitch black room, you stand still until the light comes on.
        1. When the light comes on it sets you in motion!
    19. To guide our feet – to know the way!
      1. Where does He guide our feet?...Into the path of peace!
      2. Ps.105:1 “Your word is a lamp to my feet & a light to my path.”
        1. Now we Jesus is the same!
    20. John in a Verse! (80)
    21. Luke sums up John’s childhood in this single verse.
      1. He grew physically & spiritually.
    22. In the desert – Wilderness. The desolate region around the Jordan & the Dead Sea [near Essene community]
      1. “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” (Gen.32:24)
    23. Left Alone! What does that mean to you? (Adapted from Streams in the Desert; Feb.27th)
      1. To some it means loneliness & grief; others think rest & quiet!
      2. To be left alone without God would be too horrible for words!
      3. To be left alone with Him is a taste of heaven!
        1. Maybe if we spent more time alone with Him we’d have spiritual giants again?
      4. Jesus left us an example of getting alone with God.
      5. He commanded us to get alone with God, “when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place” (Mt.6:6)
      6. Elijah & Elisha’s greatest miracles took place when they were alone w/God.
      7. Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him. (Joshua 1:1)
      8. Gideon & Jepthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel. (Judges 6:1; 11:29)
      9. Moses was by himself at the burning bush. (Ex. 3:1-5)
      10. Cornelius was praying by himself when the angel of God came to him. (Acts 10:1-4)
      11. Peter was alone on the housetop when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9-28)
      12. John the beloved was alone on the island of Patmos when he was the closest to God. (Rev. 1:9)
      13. And here, John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness.
        1. Earnestly desire to get alone w/God.
        2. If we neglect to do so, we not only rob ourselves of a blessing but rob others as well.
      14. “We’d do well to be in the desert more often!” [We have a perpetual droning in our ears. The hum of activity, the rattle of life’s pleasures, the wail of its distresses]
    24. The last part of the verse is full of anticipation! (see 3:2)
    25. Remember, Jesus is looking not for temp housing, but for a permanent location!
      1. Q: Would you like to make your heart Christ’s home?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Luke 1". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/luke-1.html. 2017.