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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Luke 1

 

 

Verses 1-80

The Seven Magnificats

Selections from Luke 1:1-80 and Luke 2:1-52

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

By way of introduction to the seven Magnificats, we will study the annunciation of the birth of Christ, as it was given by the angel unto Mary. Our study will follow Luke 1:27-38 .

1. The virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph. We emphasize that Mary was a virgin. This was plainly set forth in the prophetic Scriptures, when the Holy Ghost wrote, "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His Name Immanuel." Jesus Christ was virgin born, or else He could never have been called "Immanuel," "God with us." The latter is contingent upon the former.

The fact that He died for us on the Cross, would have been impossible, in any atoning sense, if He had been begotten by natural generation; inasmuch as, in that case, He, Himself would also have been a sinner. Only One who knew no sin, and did no sin, and in whom there was no sin, could die for sinners.

2. Mary was announced as "highly favored," and "blessed * * among women." When the angel approached Mary, he said "Hail, thou that art highly favored." The word "hail," means "joy"; therefore, the angel was saying to Mary, "All joy." When Mary heard his salutation, she was troubled and cast in her mind what manner of salutation it might be. Then the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God."

3. Mary instructed concerning the Child who should be born. The angel said to Mary, that the One whom she was to name "Jesus," would "be great." He also announced, "And (He) shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end."

What an accumulation of titles are found here, yet they were all true. He was called "Jesus," the "Son of the Highest," He was "Great," and He shall yet ascend David's throne, and reign over the House of Jacob in an everlasting Kingdom.

4. Mary told how the possibility of her being mother to the Son of the Highest could be realized. The angel said unto her (Luke 1:35 ), "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." As we speak of the angel's annunciation of the birth of the Saviour, let us emphasize the deeper meaning of the Names ascribed to Him at His birth: emphasizing, particularly, that He was called the "Son of God." As we do this, let us also refer to that remarkable prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 . To all orthodox Christians, Christ carries the Name of "God our Saviour."

I. THE FIRST MAGNIFICAT THAT OF ELISABETH (Luke 1:41-45 )

1. Mary hastening to the hill country. When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she should be mother to our Lord, he also told her that her cousin Elisabeth was to have a child within the next three months. In wonderment, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, unto a city of Judah. We can see her on arrival, as she entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. In answer to Mary's call, Elisabeth came out.

2. Elisabeth's magnificat was spoken as she was filled with the Holy Ghost. We emphasize this. A woman who is spoken of in Luke 1:6 as being righteous before God, and as walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; and a woman who was filled with the Holy Ghost, could not have uttered words contrary to the heart of God, and to the truth.

3. Hear the words of Elisabeth's Spirit-filled magnificat : "And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Thus, Elisabeth, ascribing her cousin, Mary, as "the mother of my Lord," did no less than to acknowledge the Deity of the One who was to be born of Mary.

It must be true that the angel, who had announced unto Zacharias that he and his wife were to have a child, had also announced that Mary, the virgin, was to have a Child, and that His Name should be called "Jesus, the Son of the Highest."

Thus it was that Elisabeth intelligently announced her absolute faith in Mary's Son, as God.

II. THE SECOND MAGNIFICAT THAT OF MARY (Luke 1:46-55 )

1. Mary announced that the One to be born of her was God, her Saviour. As soon as Elisabeth had ceased her magnificat, in which she ascribed Mary as the mother of the Lord, and commended Mary because she had believed that there would be a performance of the things which were told her from the Lord; then Mary gave her response and said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."

We are more than sure that the expression, "God my Saviour," referred to the Christ which should be born of Mary. We are sure, first of all, because Mary's magnificat was an acknowledgment of the verity of that of Elisabeth. In other words, Mary was accepting the title given her by her cousin, as the "mother of my Lord."

We believe, secondly, that Mary was referring to the Babe to be born of her, as "God her Saviour," because Elisabeth said, "Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her."

2. Mary, believing in the Deity of her Son, and receiving the magnificat of her cousin, said, "For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." There was no spirit of boastfulness with Mary. In fact, Mary spoke of her low estate, acknowledged that the Lord, who was mighty, had done great things to her. While all generations were to call her blessed, she, in turn, was to ascribe all the glory to God, saying (Luke 1:49 ) "Holy is His Name."

Mary also continued to say, "He hath shewed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts." Would that all of us might have this same spirit of worship, which Mary demonstrated, as the interpulsings of her own heart. Finally, Mary ascribed the birth of her Child as a fulfillment of what God had spoken to the fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.

III. THE THIRD MAGNIFICAT, THAT OF ZACHARIAS (Luke 1:67-79 )

1. The magnificat of Zacharias took place at the circumcision of John. When the angel had told Zacharias, the aged priest, that he was to have a child of this aged wife, Zacharias had not believed. Therefore, the angel had said, "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, 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." From that day Zacharias was dumb until John was born.

2. A season of great rejoicing. Luke 1:58 tells us that Elisabeth's neighbors and cousins came to see her and rejoiced with her. Thus, on the eighth day, when John was circumcised, they called his name Zacharias, after his father. The mother quickly stopped the proceedings, and said, "Not so; but he shall be called John."

Then her kindred and acquaintances made signs to the babe's father how he would have him called. Zacharias asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, "His name is John." At this moment, Zacharias' mouth was open, his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak and praise God. Zacharias, filled with the Holy Ghost, said many wonderful things about the birth of John. In the midst of his Spirit-indicted magnificat, Zacharias cried out, "And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways."

IV. THE FOURTH MAGNIFICAT THAT OF THE ANGEL, AND THE ANGELS (Luke 2:9-14 )

1. The words of the angel. As the shepherds were guarding their flocks by night, we read, "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid." Then the angel spake, saying, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Let us observe the namings which the angel from Heaven gave to Mary's Babe on that first Christmas Day.

(1) The angel ascribed the Babe as the "Saviour." This was in keeping with what the angel had said to Mary. This was in keeping with what Mary had said when she announced her Babe as "God my Saviour." This was in keeping with what Zacharias had said, "Thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: * * to give knowledge of salvation."

(2) The angel ascribed the Babe as "Christ." That is, the Saviour was God's Anointed One. Beloved, I would that we all, in speaking of this precious Babe, would ascribe to Him His place as Saviour, Christ, and Lord.

(3) The angel ascribed the Babe as "Lord." It is at the Name of Jesus that every knee shall yet bow, and confess that Jesus is Lord. Truly, other than Christ the Lord, there is no Saviour. There is none other name whereby we must be saved.

2. The words of the angels. We read, "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

(2) There was glory to God, because in the birth of Jesus Christ, the marvels of His wisdom and foreknowledge were being wrought out. There was glory to God because God was fulfilling His promise concerning the coming of the seed of the woman and Christ was that Seed.

(2) There was peace on earth and good will to men, because the Saviour, Christ the Lord, had come, bringing salvation.

V. THE FIFTH MAGNIFICAT THAT OF THE SHEPHERDS (Luke 2:15-20 )

1. The shepherd's response to the angel's annunciation. As soon as the Heavenly host had disappeared, the shepherds said one to another, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." There was, upon the part of the shepherds, no expression of doubts as to the verity of the angel's message. They heard and they believed. They did not argue against the finding of God, the Son, in so humble a place as a manger. They, the rather, prepared immediately to go. It is worth our while to consider their words.

How many young people today are willing to say, "Let us * * go "? "I will arise and go to Jesus"? How many others are willing to say, "Let us now go." Alas, alas, so many want to defer the day of their going to Christ. They say, "We will go some other time." How many are willing to say, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem"? In other words, let us go all the way, and not a part of the way.

Finally, how many, old or young, will say, "Let us now go, * * and see"? Any revelation, Divinely given, is worthy of careful consideration. God wants us to look into the depths of the meaning of His Words.

2. The shepherds found it as the angels had told them. They came, they saw, and they were satisfied. Is there any better day for us to come, seeking a Saviour? If we do come, we will see that what God has said is true.

3. The magnificat of the shepherds. The words of their magnificat are not given. We do read two things:

(1) We read that the shepherds made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child. Let us do likewise!

(2) We read that the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God. Their Amens and Hallelujahs resounded. The country wide heard them praising God.

VI. THE SIXTH MAGNIFICAT THAT OF SIMEON (Luke 2:25-35 )

1. The Bible description of Simeon. We read concerning this man that he dwelt in Jerusalem, that his name was Simeon, that he was just and devout, that he was waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and that the Holy Ghost was upon him. To such a one, the Lord revealed that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Here was a definite statement to Simeon that Mary's Babe was God the Lord's Christ.

2. The Bible speaks much of the Holy Ghost in conjunction with the birth of the Lord. The angel told Mary that the Holy Ghost was to come upon her. Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost when she spoke her magnificat. Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost when he sounded forth his note of praise. Now that we come to Simeon, we read that the Holy Ghost was upon him; that the Holy Ghost had revealed the birth of the Lord's Christ unto him, and that he came by the Spirit into the Temple, when the parents brought in the Child Jesus that He might be circumcised after the custom of the Law. How intimately did the Holy Ghost move in connection with the birth of Christ!

3. The joy and rejoicing of the aged Simeon as he came into the Temple. He took the Infant, God, up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word: for mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." The aged Simeon declared that the Babe that he held in his arms was "God's Salvation," and that his eyes had seen Him. He declared that this Babe was God's Light to the Gentiles, and His glory to the people of Israel. These words, ascribed to Christ "Salvation," "Light," and "glory," could be ascribed to none other than God, the Son, and Son of God.

VII. THE SEVENTH MAGNIFICAT THAT OF ANNA (Luke 2:36-39 )

1. Description of Anna. In Luke 2:36 , we read that Anna was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: we also read that she was of great age; that she had been married seven years, and had been a widow for eighty-four years. She must have been over a hundred. This aged woman served God with fastings and prayer, night and day. For our part, we are very happy that the Holy Ghost saw fit to seal the six magnificats with this seventh one from the lips of Anna. We will be delighted to know what so true and so faithful a woman, and a woman of so great an age, had to say about the Infant Christ.

2. Anna's words. Luke 2:38 says, "And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Israel."

It was remarkable that just as the aged Simeon had ceased speaking, that the aged Anna should come in.

(1) Anna, seeing the Infant, Christ, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord. She joined her magnificat, her praises with those of Elisabeth, of Mary, of Zacharias, of the angels, of the shepherds, and of Simeon. Beloved readers, what say you? Shall we, likewise, add our praise? Yea, our worshipful praise.

(2) Anna, seeing Christ, spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. She, therefore, added her testimony to that of the others, that the Infant Christ, was a "Saviour" a "Redeemer." Beloved, with the seven magnificats, let us follow the example of the wise men, who brought to the Child Christ their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh, and fell down and worshiped Him.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Great is the mystery of the incarnation "God * * manifest in the flesh." The following story tells a tale of how God can do what man cannot do or understand.

And he that was dead came forth (John 11:44 ). The famous clock in Strasburg Cathedral has a mechanism so complicated that it seems to the ignorant and superstitious almost a work of superhuman skill. The abused and offended maker, while as yet unpaid for his work, came one day and touched its secret springs, and it stopped. All the patience and ingenuity of a nation's mechanics and artisans failed to restore its disordered mechanism and set it in motion. Afterward, when his grievances were redressed, that maker came again, touched the inner springs, and set it again in motion, and all its multiplied parts revolved again obedient to his will. When thus, by a touch, he suspended and restored those marvelous movements, he gave to any doubting mind proof that he was the maker, and certainly the master, of that clock. And when Jesus of Nazareth brings to a stop the mechanism of nature, makes its mighty wheels turn back, or in any way arrests its grand movement more than all, when He cannot only stop, but start again, the mysterious clock of human life He gives to an honest mind overwhelming proof that He is God. For a malignant power might arrest or destroy, but only God could reconstruct and restore. A. T. Pierson.


Verses 5-79

The Revelations of God

Luke 1:5-79

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

We begin here a series of studies taken from the Gospel of Luke. This is the Gospel that emphasizes the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of Man. It will suggest many things to us that will bring great blessings. We trust that God will be with us in our studies.

Let us observe several things about visions and revelations in general, and in detail the particular vision that came to Zacharias.

1. We know God by revelation. No one by searching can find out God. When Peter said of Christ, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Jesus said, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto Thee, but My Father which is in Heaven." "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: * * neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

The truth is that revelation is the sphere of the believer's walk. The mind may roam in the things of a man, but the things of God are open only to those to whom God hath revealed them.

2. The Bible is a Book of Revelation. The Bible passes back into the beginnings of history and tells us, "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth." No human eye ever saw the origin of creation. Angelic beings saw and shouted for joy; but man was not yet on the scene. In the "beginning of things" we must walk by revelation.

Revelation is the basis of all we know of the far distant past, and revelation is the basis of all we know of the far-flung future. Salvation, itself, is a revelation. Christ as Son of God and Saviour is a revelation. The judgments of the Tribulation, of the Bema, and of the Great White Throne are all revelations.

The Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to show to willing and believing minds.

Let us now study the various aspects of revelation which the Scripture lesson presents.

I. A REVELATION TO A MAN RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD (Luke 1:5-6 )

We read that Zacharias and his wife were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments of the Lord blameless. It was to such an one that God came to make Himself known, and to reveal His purposes.

1. God revealed Himself to Abraham. The Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do * *? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him."

2. God revealed Himself to David. David was a man after God's own heart. God said unto Nathan, "Go and tell David My servant, Thus saith the Lord." Then a revelation was given unto him concerning the establishment of his kingdom forever, and David learned by revelation that Jesus Christ was to sit upon his throne.

3. God revealed Himself to Isaiah. Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, and His train filling the Temple; but it was only after the Lord had touched Isaiah's mouth and had taken his iniquity away and purged his sin, that the many marvels of prophecy, found in his Book, were revealed to him.

II. A REVELATION TO A MAN STRICKEN IN YEARS (Luke 1:7 )

Our text says of Zacharias and Elisabeth that they had no child, and they were both well stricken in years.

1. God works where man cannot move. It is nothing with the Lord to do the impossible and to accomplish the miraculous. The Lord said to Israel, "Go forward," even when there, was an impassable sea before them.

David said, "By Thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall."

He who believes God only in the realm of the natural limits the Holy One of Israel. We read of the Old Testament worthies that they accounted "that God was able." It was for this cause that they staggered not at the promises.

2. God promises to accomplish the impossible. God, by revelation, told Zacharias that his wife would bear him a son. The fact that they were both stricken in years was no hindrance to God.

The impossible has often been accomplished, for, with God, all things are possible, and what He says, He is able to perform.

In the light of past victories, in the light of past accomplishments, wrought by the hand of God, let us believe Him for future victory.

"Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" Nay, we can do "all things through Christ which strengtheneth us." Let us, then, be willing to attempt great things for God, and to expect impossible things from God. "All things are possible * * only believe."

III. A REVELATION GIVEN IN TIME OF SERVICE (Luke 1:8-10 )

We read in verse eight that while Zacharias "executed the priest's office before God in the Order of his course," that the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, "standing on the right side of the altar of incense."

To me it is a very wholesome thought that the angel should speak to this man while he was in the Temple burning incense. It would not have been difficult for the angel to have spoken to him elsewhere; but it was eminently proper, and strikingly appropriate, that God's messenger should appear in God's House.

The priesthood of that day possessed some men who truly loved the Lord. Zacharias was righteous before God, walking in all the commandments of the Lord blameless. Sometimes those who are true, find themselves connected with a system which is not true to God. They, however, can, themselves, be faithful, no matter the environment in which they move.

It was while Gideon was threshing wheat that the Lord spoke unto Him. It was as Elisha followed Elijah that he received Elijah's mantle. It was while David was tending the sheep that God called him to be king. It was while Amos was among the herdmen of Tekoa that the Word of the Lord came unto him; and, it was while the Apostles were mending their nets that the Saviour called, saying, "Come, follow Me."

If we ever expect to receive a call from God to any service, or to have from Him any revelation of truth, we will receive it as we are walking in the pathway of duty.

IV. A REVELATION IN ANSWER TO PRAYER (Luke 1:13 )

In verse thirteen the angel said unto Zacharias, "Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John." We have now an insight into the personal prayer life of this priest of God. He who was the priest, and who, according to the custom of his office, burnt incense in the Temple, was also a man who prayed when he was not on duty. It is one thing to carry on public ministrations; it is another thing to be faithful in private devotions.

Zacharias had no son, and he prayed for one. His prayer was definite, and we believe that he was importunate in prayer. He prayed earnestly; he prayed continuously. God hears and answers prayer, and He heard Zacharias, and granted his request. Many of us have not, because we ask not.

1. It was as Hannah prayed unto the Lord, that Eli told her of the birth of Samuel.

2. It was as Daniel prayed with fastings, that God sent Gabriel from Heaven to reveal unto him that which should befall Israel in the latter days.

3. It was as Daniel and the three Hebrew Children prayed, that God revealed unto them both the dream and the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar's image.

4. It was as Jesus prayed, that He was transfigured, and discussed with Moses and Elias the fact of His corning decease.

5. It was as Peter was praying on the housetop, that the Lord revealed unto him His heart toward the Gentiles, and sent him to Joppa.

6. It was as Paul prayed, that God sent an ambassador to him to tell him of his future ministry to the Gentiles.

V. A REVELATION CONCERNING A CHILD OF DESTINY (Luke 1:14-17 )

When the angel appeared to Zacharias, announcing the birth of John; he told him not only that he should have a son, but that he should have joy and gladness at his birth. He told him that his son would be great in the sight of the Lord, and that he would be filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth.

John was truly ordained of God, yea, he was foreordained. The Holy Spirit, through the Prophet, had spoken of John as the one who would go before the face of the Lord to prepare His way.

We are certain that God still purposes and plans His work, and calls His workers. The Apostle Paul said, "And when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called my by His grace." Men are called of God even before they open their eyes in birth. Thus, God, by training, by environment, and by special leadings can perfect His called ones unto His Word and work.

VI. A REVELATION RECEIVED WITH MISGIVINGS AND ACCOMPANIED BY JUDGMENT (Luke 1:18-22 )

1. A doubter rebuked. The beauty of our story is marred by the doubts which crept into the mind of Zacharias. He was a good man and a great man, but he had not yet learned to believe God unflinchingly.

He said, "Whereby shall I know this?" He said, "I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years." Gabriel replied, "I * * stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings."

2. A doubter chastened. The angel told Zacharias that, because he had doubted God's revelation, he should be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that the prophecy was fulfilled, and that which had been spoken was performed.

We wonder what chastisement must abide those who doubt God's revelation of things to come. God hath spoken, and shall He not fulfill it? He hath stretched forth His hand, and will man be able to draw it back?

In the last days men are still doubting prophecy. They are mockers, saying, "Where is the promise of His Coming?" What will be their chastisement?

VII. A REVELATION WHICH BECAME A VERIFICATION (Luke 1:58 )

That which was impossible was accomplished; that wherein Zacharias doubted came to pass. John the Baptist was born, and Elisabeth and her neighbors and cousins rejoiced.

For a while there was a quibble as to what the child should be called. His mother said that he should be called John. The relatives said, "There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name." Then they made signs to the babe's father, as to how he would have him called. Zacharias asked for a writing table and wrote, saying, "His name is John."

Thus it was that prophecy was fulfilled. Thus it was that a revelation became a verification. Will this not be true of all that God has revealed? Of the Law Christ wrote, "One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled."

VIII. A REVELATION CONSUMMATED BY A GLORIOUS ACCLAMATION (Luke 1:67-68 )

We have before us, in Zacharias' magnificat a foretaste of the magnificent praise and mighty hallelujahs that will fill the Heavens as the prophecies of the Lord's Second Coming meet their fulfillment.

The Lord Himself will descend with a shout. The saints will surely ascend with a shout. The angels will break forth into praise. The very skies will reverberate with paeans of victory and of consummated revelation.

What a glorious climax Christ's Coming will be, to the beforehand Scriptural revelation of that Blessed Advent! This revelation God has vouchsafed to His children.

AN ILLUSTRATION

We are living in a day in which the marvels of prophecy, as foretold by Divine revelation, are being fulfilled on every hand. We wonder how many people are fully awake to the deeper meanings of this fact.

The Bible tells us that in the last days mockers will arise saying, "Where is the promise of His Coming?" These mockers are on every hand.

A certain denominational paper on one occasion had an editorial making light of prophecy. The editor said something like this: "If we believed like Rev. that Christ might come at any moment, we would cease our preaching to sinners, cease our missionary endeavors, and go to Jerusalem, and build us a little watchtower upon the walls of the Beloved City. Then we would fold our hands and watch for Christ to come."

Let us remember that God's Word of prophecy is made sure. The revelation of God may not always be received by the multitude, but those who love and trust Him should accept, at one hundred per cent, every God-given prophecy.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Luke 1:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/luke-1.html.

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