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Luke 1:1-25

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 1, 2015


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words

Author of the book: Luke

Luke was a close friend to Paul. 

He was the author of the book of Acts.

We saw on our recent trip through Acts where Luke starts to uses the word “we” to describe his adventures with Paul.

He wrote the book of Acts after he wrote this gospel.  (Acts 1:1)

We know this because he starts the book of Acts by reminding his readers about the other book:
(Acts 1:1 NKJV) The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

Luke is the only Gentile to write a portion of the New Testament. 

He was a doctor by profession.

He pays particular attention to the birth of two important babies.
He emphasizes Jesus’ sympathy for hurting people.

He may have been the only believer present when Paul was put to death. (2Tim. 4:11)

(2 Timothy 4:11a NKJV) Only Luke is with me…

Date written – around 60 AD

It was written before Acts, and Acts ends around AD 62 with Paul still alive in Rome.  Paul was executed AD 64.

It might have been written from Rome, or possibly from Caesarea where Paul had been imprisoned for several years before being transferred to Rome.

Uniqueness of the book:

The gospel has a slant towards Gentiles, taking time to explain Jewish customs.

The author displays interest in medical matters

(4:38; 7:15; 8:55; 14:2; 18:15; 22:50)

Luke gives the most detail to the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.

There are some favorite parables and stories unique to Luke, including –

The good Samaritan (10:29-37)
The prodigal son (15:11-32)
Zacchaeus (19:1-10)
The thief on the cross (23:39-43)

There is a special emphasis on prayer throughout the book (3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28-29; 10:21; 11:1; 22:39-46; 23:34, 46)

Luke records four songs – Mary’s song (1:46-55), Zacharias’ song (1:67-79), the angels’ song (“Gloria in Excelsis”, 2:14), Simeon’s song (2:29-32).

Key Verse

(Luke 19:10 NKJV) for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

1:1-4 Purpose and method

:1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us,

:2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us,

:3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,

:4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

:1 many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative

By the time of Luke’s writing, there were already “many” accounts of the life of Jesus.

I’d imagine that some were accurate, and others were not.

:2 eyewitnessesautoptes (“autopsy”) seeing with one's own eye

This is a medical term that a doctor would be familiar with.

:3 to write to you an orderly account

orderly accountkathexes – one after another, successively, in order

Luke tells us how he’s put this book together.

He has done research and has accumulated eyewitness accounts (vs.2) of the things of Jesus’ life. 
As you read through the first chapter, you get the idea that one of those he must have interviewed was Mary.
He’s taken the time to put it all together into a clear order.

:3 most excellent Theophilus

most excellentkratistos (superlative) – mightiest, strongest, noblest, most illustrious, best, most excellent

His name means “God lover”

This is the person to whom Luke is writing to.
It may be a real person named Theophilus. 
Some have suggested that this was Luke’s “boss”.  In those days, physicians were slaves, owned by a wealthy person.
Some have suggested that it is written to all believers since “Theophilus” means “lover of God”.

:4 instructedkatecheo (“catechism”) – to teach orally, to instruct

1:5-10 Zacharias in the Temple

:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

:5 Herod, the king of Judea

There were several Herod’s in New Testament times, this was the man known as “Herod the Great”. 

He ruled from 37BC to 4AD. 

He was the man who did a major remodeling of the temple that had been built by Zerubbabel, as well as many other huge construction projects, including the seaport at Caesarea.

This is the Herod who had all the babies put to death after he heard about the baby Jesus being born.

:5 a certain priest named Zacharias

This will be John the Baptist’s father. 

This means that John was also of the priestly line, a descendant of Aaron.

:5 of the division of Abijah

King David organized the priests to divide up the Temple work, dividing them into 24 groups.

Abijah was the eighth group (1Chr. 24:10)
(1 Chronicles 24:10 NKJV) —10 the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah,
Each group of priests would come to the temple twice each year and serve the Lord for one week at a time, doing the various functions of a priest in the temple, then go back home and do their regular job.
In Zacharias’ day, there were about 20,000 priests in Israel. This was how they would all take turns getting to do their calling.
Zacharias is simply taking his turn at being one of the priests in the temple.

:5 of the daughters of Aaron…Elizabeth

John the Baptist’s mom was also from the lineage of Aaron.

This means that she was from the tribe of Levi.  Somehow, Elizabeth was also related to Mary, who was of the tribe of Judah.  How could this be? 
It’s possible that Mary’s dad, being of the tribe of Judah, had a sister who married a guy from the tribe of Levi.  They had a daughter named Elizabeth.  Just a suggestion.

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

John had godly parents.

:7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

:7 Elizabeth was barren

For a woman in those days, the worst thing that could ever happen to you would be for you to be unable to conceive a child.

Women found their identity and value in the children they gave birth to.


Bad things happen to good people.

I’m sure there were people who wondered why Zacharias and Elizabeth weren’t having children.
I’m sure there were people who wondered if there wasn’t some secret sin in their family that had resulted in them being childless.
The truth is, not every bad thing that happens to us is a result of sin.
The Bible says,

(Psalm 103:10 NKJV) He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

For Zack and Betty, God was going to give them a child who would be one of the great men of the Bible.  And God desired to draw attention to this child’s birth by giving this child to a couple who were beyond their childbearing years.
For some of us, God answers our prayers with “No”.
It may be that God wants something different for us than what we want for ourselves.
Sometimes God’s timing is not ours, and we just need to be patient.
Does this mean God is punishing us? Nope.
The Teacup
An American couple went to England to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Both the man and the wife were connoisseurs and fanciers of pottery, antiques, and china. When they came to Sussex they went into a Little China shop. Their eyes singled out a beautiful little tea cup on the top shelf. The man said, “Can I see that, that’s the most beautiful tea cup I’ve ever seen.” And as he was holding the tea cup, the tea cup begins to speak.
It said, “You don’t understand, I haven’t always been a tea cup. There was a time when I was just red clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out “Let me alone” but he only smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around. “Stop it I’m getting dizzy,” I said. The master only nodded and said “Not yet” Then he put me in an oven, I’d never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said “not yet.” Finally the door did open “whew”, and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. “That’s better” I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to die. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled, and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, “not yet, not yet. And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldn’t make it. I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out and he put me on a shelf .Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said “Look at yourself”. And I did. And I said, “That can’t be me, I’m beautiful!”
“I want you to remember,” he then said, “I know that it hurt to be rolled and to be patted but if I would have left you, you would have dried out. And I know that it made you dizzy to spin you around and around on a spinning wheel but if I had stopped you would have crumbled. And I know that it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven but if I hadn’t put you there you would have cracked. And I know that the fumes were oh so bad when I brushed you and when I painted you all over, but you see, if I hadn’t done that you wouldn’t have hardened and there would have been no color in your life. And if I hadn’t put you in that second oven you wouldn’t have survived for very long. The hardness would not have held. But now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”
I imagine it’s possible that a few of you are in the “oven” right now.  Some of you are feeling “smothered” by paint.  Some of you are dizzy from being on the potter’s wheel.
Please remember “not yet”.  God knows what He’s doing.

(Romans 8:28 NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

:7 well advanced in years

well advancedprobaino – to go forwards, go on

They were “getting on” in years.

:8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division,

:9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

:10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.

:9 his lot fell to burn incense

There were many roles for the priests to perform while they took their “tour of duty” in the temple.  They would “cast lots” to determine who got which job. There were 20,000 priests in Israel at this time, so this particular assignment was a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

Three priests were involved in the burning of the incense.  The first priest would go into the Temple and clean out the ashes in the golden altar.  The second priest would then go in and put fresh live coals on the golden altar.  The third priest, which was Zacharias, would then go in and place incense on top of the coals, burning the incense to represent the prayers of the people.
As the smoke of the incense would make its way into the Holy of Holies, the incense was meant to be a picture of the prayers of God’s people, rising up before His throne in heaven as a sweet fragrance.
This all took place at the hour of prayer each day at 3:00pm.

1:11-17 Gabriel announces John

:11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

:13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

:13 your prayer is heard

Apparently Zacharias had been praying for a child.


Keep praying

I know this is an assumption on my part, but if Zacharias and Elizabeth were getting pretty old (vs. 7, “well advanced in years”) and they still had no children, I’m sure they had been praying for children for quite some time.
I believe that sometimes as we continue to pray for something, there may be times when we get a clear response from God telling us to stop praying for that request.
But if God doesn’t tell us to stop, maybe we shouldn’t be stopping.
Isaac too prayed for his wife to get pregnant, and one day she got pregnant and gave birth to twins.
(Genesis 25:26b NKJV) …Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
What’s important is to see when Isaac had begun praying.
(Genesis 25:20–21 NKJV) —20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. 21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

If I have my math correct, Isaac prayed for 20 years for Rebekah to become pregnant.

Perhaps you have been wondering if God could ever answer your prayer.  Keep praying.

:13 you shall call his name John

The boy’s name is given to Zacharias by the angel.

His name means “Yahweh is gracious”

“John” is a shortened form of the Hebrew name “Yeho-hanan”, or, “Yahweh is gracious”

Yeho-hanan is shortened to “Yo-hanan”, and if you take out the “a”s in English, and change the “Y” to a “J”, you end up with “John”.

:14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.

:15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

:15 shall drink neither wine nor strong drink

John was a Nazirite.

A “Nazirite” (Num. 6) was a person who had dedicated themselves to God in a very special way. 
The Nazirite vow involved:
1)  Abstain from wine

 or even anything that was made by grapes

2)  Never touch a dead person
3)  Never cut your hair (perhaps John’s hair was quite long!)
A Nazirite vow could be for a period of time.
Paul took a short Nazirite vow once (Acts 18:18)

(Acts 18:18 NKJV) So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.

Some, like John, were Nazirites for their whole life.
In the Bible, only Samson (Jud 13:7), Samuel (1Sa 1:11), and John were Nazirites from their mother’s womb.

:16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.

:17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘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.”

:17 in the spirit and power of Elijah

John will be compared to Elijah several times.

Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come back before the coming of the Lord (Mal. 4:5)
(Malachi 4:5 NKJV) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Though John denied that he was literally Elijah (John 1:21), Jesus said that John fulfilled the prophecy about Elijah (Mat. 17:10-13), and here we find out how.
He came in the “spirit” of Elijah.
(Matthew 17:10–13 NKJV) —10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
(John 1:21 NKJV) —21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
How could these things be?

Jesus would come twice.  Elijah will come in some form each time.  Before Jesus’ first coming, John the Baptist came in the “spirit and power” of Elijah.  Before Jesus’ Second Coming, Elijah will also make another appearance, possibly as one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11.

:17 to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children

We talked about this last Sunday in Malachi 4.

This was Malachi’s description of Elijah’s ministry, from –
(Malachi 4:6 NKJV) And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
This was part of what John the Baptist was supposed to do to help people get ready for the coming of the Lord.

Even though the hearts of the children would also be turned to the fathers, it is interesting to see that the fathers are mentioned first.  Perhaps it starts with dads.


Be a good dad.

We can understand that people would need to get ready for the Lord’s coming by stopping their disobedience (Luke 1:17).  But what’s this “dad” stuff?
I think that a father’s role in society is one of the crucial elements of people knowing their God.

I don’t want to overplay this, but I think that people can find themselves seeing to God in a way that is very parallel to how they see their fathers.  When a person has had a neglectful or abusive father, it’s not uncommon for them to at least at first have a rough time relating to God the Father.

I don’t want to oversimplify things, but the greater majority of people who fill our prisons are those who have had bad or absent fathers

Isn’t it interesting that in our society where we are seeing such an incredible breakdown of moral values, that we are also seeing a great number of fathers neglecting their God-given responsibilities?  I think that now, more than probably any other time in history, dads aren’t being good dads.
The message of turning the hearts of dads to their kids is to be a message of Elijah before the coming of the Lord.  Don’t you think it’s a message for today?  Could we be close to the end?
Note:    We often think of leading others to Jesus as being the thing that will “hasten” the coming of the Lord.  I wonder if being a good dad isn’t another thing that God is looking for?

:17 the disobedient to the wisdom of the just

disobedientapeithes (“not” + “persuade”) – unpersuadable, not compliant, disobedient

wisdomphronesis (“mind”) – understanding; knowledge and holy love of the will of God

justdikaios – righteous, observing divine laws

:17 to make ready a people prepared for the Lord

Isaiah wrote,

(Isaiah 40:3–4 NKJV) —3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth;
John the Baptist claimed to be fulfilling this verse (John 1:22-23)

(John 1:22–23 NKJV) —22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

In ancient days, when a king would travel to various parts of his kingdom, his servants would send an advance team to clean up the cities, to repair the roads, and make things ready for the coming king.

John and Elijah would be aiming at preparing the people, not the lands.

1:18-25 Speechless

:18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

:18 How shall I know this?

We’re going to see that Zacharias flat out doesn’t believe what the angel says.

He knows that he and his wife are simply too old to have kids.
He is apparently so strong in his unbelief that the angel doesn’t even argue with him or try to convince him.
There will be a fairly harsh consequence for Zacharias’ unbelief.

With some people, God is quite patient with their unbelief.

Mary will seem to have a bit of disbelief when Gabriel tells her that she is going to become pregnant, even though she’s a virgin and isn’t married. (Luke 1:34)
(Luke 1:34 NKJV) Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
Yet for some reason, instead of rebuking Mary, Gabriel will explain things further, and Mary did believe.


Should you know better?

I’d like to suggest that the difference between Zacharias and Mary has something to do with their age difference and their life experience.
Mary was apparently quite young when she became pregnant.
Some suggest she might have been 16 at the time.
Zacharias is an old man.  He’s been around awhile.
He is also a priest, even serving in the Temple and burning incense during the time of prayer.
He ought to know better when it comes to trusting God.
Here’s some people who ought to know better …
Video:  Best Work Fails (edited)

On some of these, you can’t blame the person.

On others, the person ought to have known better.

For some of you, all this stuff about Jesus is kind of new.
God will be a bit more gracious as you are learning about Him and His ways.
For some of you, you’ve been around the block a few times.
You’ve heard much of this before, and you are still resisting God.
Each time you say “no” to God, your heart gets a little more callused.
The way a callus works, there will be a point where you will no longer “feel” anything at all.
Whether you are young or old, God wants you to believe Him.
(Hebrews 11:6 NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Most of all, He wants you to believe in His Son, Jesus.

:19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.

:20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

:21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple.

:21 marveled that he lingered so long

The people usually waited for the incense priest to come back out and pronounce a blessing on the people, but Zacharias was taking too long.

The people would be waiting for the priest to come out because after he had offered the incense which represented their prayers, he would come back outside and give a blessing to the people that were there.  I think it was kind of like reminding the people that the prayers were delivered and God had heard them.

:22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.

I hope they weren’t trying to read his lips…

:23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.

:24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying,

:25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

:24 she hid herself five months

Why did Elizabeth hide?

hidperikrupto to conceal on all sides or entirely, to hide, seclude. 

She probably hid herself until it was totally obvious to everyone that she was indeed pregnant and wasn’t just making up stories.

:20 you will be mute and not able to speak

Zacharias would be unable to speak until the child was born for two reasons –

1)  As a type of chastisement on him for not believing what the angel was telling him
2)  As further proof that these things would come true.


Unbelief hinders ministry

A priest had a responsibility to speak.
(Ezekiel 44:23 NKJV) “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
But Zacharias is now going to be silent when he ought to be speaking.
When nobody can hear what you’re saying, it can leave room for people to guess all kinds of things about what you’re trying to say.
When you’re watching a football game, sometimes they will zoom in on a player or a coach, and you can tell that they’re talking, but you can’t hear what they are saying.

Well some expert lip readers are here to help us out…

Video:  NFL bad lip reading (edited)

That might be funny when people are talking about football, but it’s not funny when we ought to be talking about Jesus.

Sometimes God will do what He wants to do whether we believe Him or not.
God was going to give Zacharias and Elizabeth a son whether Zack believed or not.
What motivates you? Fear or Faith?  Fear is the opposite of faith. Too often I make choices based on fear, not faith. I'm afraid something might not work out right. I'm afraid something bad will happen.
Yet when we choose not to trust God, we miss out on the blessing.
We’ll see that Zacharias will one day speak, and what he will have to say will be powerful, but for nine months he will have to be silent.
David wrote,
(Psalm 34:8 NKJV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

blessed” = “happy” ('esher)

Is there something you need to start trusting God with?
Is it time to start trusting your life into Jesus’ hands?