Introduction: The Gospel of Luke is the longest book in the New Testament. Unlike the other three gospels, Luke was not an eyewitness. However, he carefully documented documents from other eyewitnesses, and focuses on Jesus humanity. Luke, a physician, writes with compassion and emphasizes Jesus ancestry, birth, and early life before moving chronologically through His early ministry.
This gospel is part one, part two being the book of Acts. Both were dedicated to “Most honorable Theophilus” (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1).
Luke may have been a Hellenistic Jew, but it is more likely that he was a Gentile (this would make him the only Gentile contributor to the New Testament). Luke’s obvious skill with the Greek language and his phrase “their own language” in Acts 1:19 also imply that he was not Jewish. Tradition also says that Luke was from Syrian Antioch and remained unmarried, and died at the age of eighty-four.
Luke relied on the testimony of eyewitnesses and written sources. He carefully investigated and arranged his material and presented it to Theophilus. Theophilus was a man of high social standing. He probably published Luke and Acts so they would be available to Gentile readers. Luke translates Aramaic terms with Greek words and explains Jewish customs and geography to make his gospel more intelligible to his original Greek readership.
Luke shows that Christ was not only divine but also human. Luke portrays Christ in His fullest humanity by devoting more of his writing to Christ’s feelings and humanity than any other gospel.
The Three parables, the Lost sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son, sums up this gospel: that God through Christ has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
The Purpose and Method of Luke’s Gospel
Verse 1 – Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Verse 2 – just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us,
Verse 3 – seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all thins from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,
Verse 4 – that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
As a medical doctor, Luke knew the importance of being thorough. We can read Luke’s account of Jesus’ life with confidence it was written by a clear thinker and a thoughtful researcher.
Zacharias Ministers in the Temple
Verse 5 – There was in 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.
At this time, there were about 20,000 priests throughout the country. They were divided into separate groups of 1,000, according to David’s directions (1 Chronicles 24:3-19). Each priest would minister seven days. It was not by chance that Zacharias was there in the Holy Place, at this particular time.
Verse 6 – And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Unlike the religious leaders that Jesus called hypocrites, Zacharias and Elizabeth were obedient from the heart.
Verse 7 – But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
Verse 8 – So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of division,
Verse 9 – according to the custom of the priest-hood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
The priest drew lots to see who would go into the Holy Place to light the incense.
Verse 10 – And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
The hour of incense was at 9:00 am and 3:00 pm daily.
An Angel Announces the Birth of John the Baptist
Verse 11 – Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
Verse 12 – And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Angels are God’s messengers who live in God’s presence. There are only two mentioned by name in scripture, Michael and Gabriel.
Verse 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.
John was not going to be an ordinary child. He was to be the forerunner for the Messiah. This child would be blessed and would be born in perfect timing, which only God can do.
Verse 14 – “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
Verse 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.
Because Luke wrote the book of Acts also, we know that Luke is well-informed about the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is a gift given to the entire church at Pentecost. Prior to that, God’s Spirit was given to the faithful for specific tasks.
Verse 16 – “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
Verse 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.”
John’s mission would be almost identical to Elijah’s – to turn the people from their sin, back to God.
Zacharias Is Unable to Speak
Verse 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.”
Verse 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.
Verse 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.”
Zacharias was more than likely deaf also, because later on in Luke 1:62, his friends had to make signs to him, that he might understand them. Has God made a promise to you? Wait for it, but while you wait, speak forth your faith in agreement with Him.
Verse 21 – And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple.
They were waiting for him to come out and dismiss them with a blessing. This was the traditional Aaronic blessing.
Verse 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.
Verse 23 – And so it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.
Verse 24 – Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying,
Verse 25 – “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”
Having children was seen as a blessing and not having children, was seen as a curse. Elizabeth knew her pregnancy would cause a huge stir among the town people because of her age, so she kept to herself, keeping calm and quiet for the sake of the baby.
Gabriel Announces Christ’s Birth
Verse 26 – Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth,
Verse 27 – to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
So Elizabeth is six months pregnant with John, then God sends Gabriel again to a virgin named Mary who was engaged to a man named Joseph which was a descendant of King David.
Verse 28 – And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
God chose Mary to one of the most important acts of obedience He has ever bestowed on anyone, ever!
Verse 29 – But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Verse 30 – Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Verse 31 – “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call His name JESUS.
Verse 32 – “He will be great, and will be called the son o of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
Verse 33 – “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.
Centuries earlier God had promised David that David’s kingdom would last forever (2 Samuel 7:16). This promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, a direct descendant of David, whose reign will continue throughout eternity.
Mary Miraculously Conceives
Verse 34 – Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
The difference from the question Mary asked and what Zacharias asked is, Mary’s question was not out of unbelief, but puzzlement.
Verse 35 – And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
Jesus was born without sin, obeyed God and was thus able to face the consequences for sin in our place and make us acceptable to God (Romans 5:14-19).
Verse 36 – “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
Verse 37 – “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Verse 38 – Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary’s response is a perfect model of humble commitment. We can only imagine what would happen in this world today if we all were as quick as Mary was to obey the Lord.
Verse 39 – Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah,
Verse 40 – and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
Verse 41 – And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Verse 42 – Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
Verse 43 – “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
The Bible says, “The Holy Spirit,” knows all things. When Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit, He revealed to her that Mary was carrying the Messiah.
Verse 44 – “For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
Gabriel had told Zacharias that the baby would be filled with the Holy Spirit even in his mother’s womb. I can only imagine the excitement that these two women felt. Both had received a miracle from God. Elizabeth too old to bear children, and now she was carrying a son, and Mary, never to have been with a man, now carrying the Messiah. Wow! What a God!
Verse 45 – “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
Verse 46 – And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
Verse 47 – and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
Verse 48 – For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
Mary viewed herself both humbled and exalted. She recognized and accepted this gift from God. No part of what she said was prideful. Don’t belittle gifts from God. Take them, accept them and use them for God’s glory.
Verse 49 – For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
Verse 50 – And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
Verse 51 – He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Verse 52 – He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.
Verse 53 – He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.
Verse 54 – He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy,
Verse 55 – as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”
I want you to notice something: Mary says, “has done,” but still speaking of “what will be done.” When faith speaks, because we believe God is going to do something, we speak as though it is already done.
For instance; the original text of when God was speaking to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, our Bible reads God saying, “I will…” that is not what He actually said. God speaks as if He has already done it, because He has. It should read: “I have made you a great nation!” There is no future-tense when God speaks because He’s already done it and He is outside of time. When praying and asking for something, “Thank Him, before you see it!” That’s what Mary’s song was speaking. Everything I have ever received from the Lord, I spoke in favor of what I had asked for before I ever saw it.
Verse 56 – And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.
Elizabeth Gives Birth to John
Verse 57 – Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.
Verse 58 – When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.
Verse 59 – Now so it was, on the eight-day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father Zacharias.
Verse 60 – And his mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”
Verse 61 – But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.”
Verse 62 – So they made signs to his father – what he would have him called.
Verse 63 – And he (Zacharias) asked for a writing tablet, and wrote saying, “His name is John.” And they all marveled.
Verse 64 – Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.
Are we not also ashamed of ourselves sometimes for not believing God? Please remember this: God’s Word is always true. If He has made you a promise, it will come to pass.
verse 65 – Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea.
Verse 66 – And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.
Verse 67 – Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied saying:
Verse 68 – “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people,
Verse 69 – and He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,
Verse 7 0 – as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began,
Verse 71 – that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,
Verse 72 – to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant,
Verse 73 – the oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
Verse 74 – To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear,
Verse 75 – in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
Did you notice Zacharias spoke in the past-tense, as if it was already done, because it was. Through John the Baptist being the forerunner for Christ, all the prophecies that had been told by the prophets, was about to come to pass. Now he begins to prophecy over John. (If you are a believer, you should prophesy over your children.)
Verse 76 – And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
Verse 77 – to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins,
Verse 78 – through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
Dayspring – or the rising sun, that is , Christ. Zacharias had just recalled hundreds of years of God’s sovereign work in history, beginning with Abraham and going into eternity. Through his own son, preparing people’s hearts to receive the predicted Messiah. Don’t ever minimize what God can do through people that are faithful to Him.
Verse 79 – To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The way of peace with God is through faith in Christ. Romans 5:1 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…
Let me just make a note: “If you have to see it, whatever it is, before you believe it, it’s not faith.
Verse 80 – So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
John grew up separated from the political views of the surrounding leaders in order to focus totally on his message and grow spiritually. Since his parents were already old when they had him, he may have been on his own at a very young age.
Since ministry for a Levite, which John was, began at age 30 years of age, this is when John began his ministry, as did Jesus. Keep in mind; John is 6 months older than Jesus, so he had only 6 months to prepare the way of the messiah.