The story behind the story. The ‘prequel’ to Christ’s birth! Amazing in it’s own right, not talked about as much. In the beginning of the book of Luke we see the background of fulfilled prophecy and how this story has been coming together, setting the stage for the advent of Christ Jesus!
Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
- This was written to be a verified, credible history of sorts.
- An attempt to codify the oral tradition of the Gospel
Our story begins with a Jewish priest named Zach and wife Beth
When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
- Serious compliment to be seen as ‘righteous in God’s eyes’
- Childless and old…reminiscent of Abraham & Sarah
Zachariah was taking his turn to offer incense at the temple in Jerusalem (big honor). He is in the Holy Place, alone and he is visited by Gabriel The Angel. Zach is scared to death!
13 & 15b-17a
But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John…
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.
- The Angel tells Zach he and Beth are going to have a very special son
- The spirit & power of Elijah is significant (prophetic forerunner of the Messiah)
Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
- He wants some kind of assurance, which is not a faith move
- Gabriel makes it clear he is speaking for God Himself…
- Gabe strikes Zach ‘speechless’
Zach goes home and even though he cannot speak, he and Elisabeth conceive! It is seen as a miracle…and the scene shifts to Nazareth…
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
- Gabriel is on another visitation
- We see who Mary and Joseph are
- He calls her ‘Favored’…quite an understatement!
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
- 1st Gabe told of the forerunner of the Messiah, now he is announcing the Christ
- This description can only be about One: The Messiah / The Christ
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”
- Mary is questioning in a different way & questioning a different thing than Zach
- Gabe puts the two stories together of the miracle births, one is unprecedented
- All that Gabriel say is the actual ‘Word of God’
- Mary’s response: “I am the Lord’s servant”
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She enered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?
- John the Baptist in the womb, is filled with God’s Spirit
- Beth, filled with The Spirit proclaims the 1st recognition of Jesus as Lord!
- She is humbled when she gets the whole story
Then Mary breaks out in an epic song of praise V46-55. The last line: “For He made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.” This is explaining to the gentiles how all of this is been in the works thru the Jews for centuries…the whole story of the Bible… (Then Mary stays 3 months, came @ 6 mo) Then John the baptist is born…Zach gets his voice back. He speaks of prophecy to be fulfilled in his son & ultimately The Messiah
Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.
- Has visited…Has sent… he is talking like it has already happened (faith)
- Declaring how this Savior to be born will bring salvation
- Fulfillment of the covenant oath God made to Abraham
“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
- John is to prepare the way…play the Elijah role
- All humanity is overshadowed by death, but now there is a path to avoid death!
- This is what God is offering each of us through His Son: Total Peace!
Do you consider this account to be valid and true? Why or why not?
Why do you think God chronicled all of this prior to Jesus’ birth?
What’s significant in how Mary & Zachariah react differently to Gabriel’s announcements?
Do you want what God is offering in His Messiah?