Foretold Luke Chapter 1
Why did Luke decide to write his narrative of the life of Jesus Christ, particularly as he never met Jesus (as far as we know) and Matthew had already written a perfectly good account? In fact, according to verse 1 there were many people who had written about Jesus, although now we do not have a record of many of them.
It is thought that round about AD 60 Luke decided that he would “write … an orderly account” that we might “know the certainty of those things” (verses 3, 4). He said “It seemed good to me also, having a perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account.” The words ‘from the very first’ can be translated ‘from above’, as it is in other places in the Bible. This infers the inspiration of these writings.
In verse 5 Luke launches into the account of the birth of John the Baptist. Zacharias, a priest, and his wife, Elizabeth, were unable to have children, and Elizabeth was past the age for having children. They had both resigned themselves to this situation, including the shame and humility of being childless. But God had other plans.
One day Zacharias was in the temple burning incense, when he had an encounter with Gabriel, an angel of the Lord. “Elizabeth is going to have a baby!” First the shock of seeing the heavenly visitor, then this remarkable news, caused him to doubt what he was being told. Therefore Gabriel said he would not be able to speak until all this was fulfilled.
It seems that sometimes God withholds giving children to a couple so that when the couple eventually have a child, that child becomes of significance in the dealings of God. For example, Abraham and Sarah eventually have Isaac, Elkanah and Hannah have Samuel, and Zacharias and Elizabeth have John the Baptist. These were all sons of promise. They were foretold. John the Baptist was foretold in the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 40, and he was to be a Nazirite, one who is especially set apart by God, and would be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. He was to never drink any alcohol and never cut his hair (Samson was also called to be a Nazirite, but he abused this privilege). John’s ministry will be discussed later from Luke chapter 3.
In verse 26 the narrative moves from Jerusalem to Nazareth, a village in Galilee. Mary is at home when she has a visitor. It is Gabriel, who had appeared to Zecharias six months earlier. I expect Mary’s heart began to beat a lot faster! Gabriel said “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.” Then he began to explain to Mary that she was to have a baby, even though she was a virgin. I wonder if Mary was familiar with Isaiah 7 verse 14, which says “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son …” At any rate, she was ‘troubled at his saying’. I don’t think she could believe that she of all people should be chosen for this honour. But her words are significant, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be according to your word.” She didn’t have the doubts Zecharias had six months previously.
Mary decided to visit Elisabeth, and when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, John leaped for joy in her womb! Mary then burst into praise, and the words are recorded for us in what is now called ‘the magnificat’, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour …” which you can read in verses 46 to 55.
Three months later John is born, and Zacherias got his voice back and started prophesying. The words are found in verses 68 to 79, which start with “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel” and finishes with “And you, child will be called the prophet of the Highest … to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
These were momentous times, when God intervened in the lives of people in miraculous ways to fulfil His purposes. I believe that the time is coming when He will intervene in ways equally momentous, and that time is getting closer. Are we ready!