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Gospel of Luke Sermon Series:

Luke 1:1-25 – God: The Ultimate Promise Keeper (December 10, 2017 PTR. Mar )

Overview of Luke (Luke 1:1-4)


Facts about Luke
Introduction to Luke
Outline of Luke
God Keeps His Promises to Israel (Luke 1:5-17)
God Keeps His Promises to Zacharias (Luke 1:18-25)

One of the books that I have in my study is a book called Every Promise In The Bible. I’m sure that many
of you probably have those little Bible Promise books, or maybe little desk-calendars with a promise from God
on each page. I used to have several of those, but then I found this book, and I figured that it must be the king
of all promise books because it was so big. So I bought it, and got rid of all of my other little promise books,
because “Why keep them when I’ve got the bigger and better and more comprehensive book?” Right?

Well, as it turns out, the title of this book is a lie. Although it has many of the covenants and promises found in
the Bible, it by no means has every covenant and promise in the Bible. While looking through the book this
week, I thought of several promises that are in the Bible, but are not found in this book.

So do you know what I realized? As good as a book like this is, if you want a book that contains every covenant
and promise in the Bible, all you really need…is the Bible. In fact, I think that if somebody were going to sit down
and record every promise and covenant in the Bible, they would almost end up copying the entire Bible. There
are promises on every page, and in almost every paragraph of the entire Bible.

Now, you know what we were told about making promises when we were kids – “Don’t make promises you
can’t keep.” Right? And so many of us have learned to not make very many promises. We do not control the
future, we do not control the weather, or the economy, or our health. And so many of us have learned to make
few promises.

And so it is amazing for us, when we come to the Bible, to find promises everywhere! Promises on every page.
Promises about nearly every aspect of life. Promises even, about what happens after life. God is not hesitant
about making promises. He loves to makes promises. There are thousands and thousands of promises He has
made recorded in the Word of God. Promises to Israel. Promises to kings and prophets. Promises to the church.
And yes, even promises to you and to me.

One man, named Dr. Evereck Storms, counted all the promises and found 8,810 promises. Almost 8000 of those
were from God to man. Books like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel have over 1000 promises each. Almost every
verse in Psalm 37 contains a promise. [1] There are a lot of promises in the Bible.

But do you know what is more amazing than the number of promises which God has made? Even more amazing
the sheer volume of God’s promises is that He always keeps His promises. God is the greatest promise keeper
that ever was. He too lives by that rule about not making a promise He can’t keep. God never promises
something He can’t follow through on. He always does what He says. He always fulfills what He promises.

As we begin a study of the Book of Luke, we are going to see a couple of these promises that He made, and we
are going to see as well that these promises were kept.
But before we look at Luke 1, let me give you a brief overview and a few facts about the Gospel of Luke.

Overview of the Gospel of Luke

A. Facts about Luke

The book of Luke was written by… surprise, surprise… a man named Luke!

Luke was not one of Christ’s apostles, but was a traveling companion to Paul. Luke was a Gentile, not a Jew, and
he was a physician, a doctor. Because of his training as a doctor, he had a great mind for order, detail and
precision. He writes in a very orderly way, and gives more specific details about the life of Christ than Matthew,
Mark or John. For example, did you know that over 50 percent of Luke’s gospel is unique? It contains materials
found nowhere else. Without Luke, certain periods of Christ’s life and ministry would be unknown to us. He has
a greater focus on individuals than do the other gospels. Luke mentions thirteen women not found in the other
gospels. He contains more of the miracles and parables than the other Gospels, and there are at least 29 events
in the life of Christ recorded in Luke that are not found in any other Gospel. [2]

Furthermore, because of Luke’s precision, and desire for accuracy, he wrote a top-notch history of the life of
Christ. Historians who are not Christians have studied the way Luke writes, and they agree that he is a skilled
and accurate writer. If Luke says it, we can trust it.

This doesn’t at all mean that the other Gospels are inaccurate. They had different purposes for writing and
different ways of organizing their material. Matthew wrote topically, and goes back and forth between recording
Christ’s words and Christ’s actions. Mark wrote concisely. His is the action Gospel. He is always using the word
“Immediately.” If the Gospels were made into movies, Mark would be found in the Action section of the video
store. John is the only evangelistic Gospel, written to show how to receive eternal life. Each of these three
Gospel accounts accomplish their specific purposes beautifully. But Luke wrote to provide a reliable,
chronological account of the life of Christ.

B. Introduction to Luke

Look what Luke writes in the first four verses of Luke 1.

Luke 1:1-4. Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been
fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered
them to us, 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, that you may know the certainty of those things in
which you were instructed.

We read here in verse 3, that Luke was writing to a man named Theophilus. We don’t know who he was exactly,
but the title Luke gives him, most excellent Theophilus, hints that he may have been some sort of high ranking
public official. In fact, of the titles given to Roman officials, the only title higher than the one Luke uses here is
that of Caesar. So Theophilus was a high ranking official in the Roman Empire. He could not have gone any higher
without becoming the Emperor.

Curiously, in Acts, which was also written by Luke to Theophilus, Luke does not use the title there. He does not
say, “most excellent Theophilus” but simply “Theophilus.” Why? Ultimately, we don’t know. But there are two
good possibilities. First, maybe Theophilus lost his position of prominence. Could it be that he became a Christian
as a result of Luke, and lost his authority as a result? That is a possibility. Living for Christ often comes at great
cost.

The other possibility is that Luke and Theophilus became good friends, so that Luke was able to write to
Theophilus in a friendly and familiar way when he wrote Acts. I prefer this second option, but ultimately, we
won’t know until heaven.

Theophilus, by the way, means “Lover of God” and so although Theophilus was a real person in history, if you
love God, then Luke was written to you as well.

And in verse 3, we also discover that Luke’s purpose in writing was to give an orderly account of the life of Christ.
As I already said, all four Gospels were written with different purposes in mind; Luke wants to write a
chronological account. He wants to write about the life of Christ in the order that things happened.

B. Outline of Luke

(Outline not included online).

You can see that Luke works his way through the life of Christ in a very orderly, systematic, chronological way.
We are going to do that ourselves in the weeks and months ahead. Work through the life of Christ in an orderly,
systematic way.

Paul said that one of his goals as he went from church to church was to preach Christ, so I want to do that too.

Now, we’ve kind of already looked at the Purpose for Luke’s gospel in the first four verses. So let’s turn now to
one of the events leading up to the Birth of Christ. In Luke 1:5-25, we come back to what I began talking about
this morning. In these verses, we learn that God keeps his promises.

First of all, we see that God keeps His promises to Israel.

2. God keeps His promises to Israel (Luke 1:5-17)

Luke 1:5. 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. It is somewhat ironic the way Luke
begins his account here because from the outset, it appears that God has not kept one of His promises. You see,
God promised in Genesis 49 that the scepter would not depart from Judah until the Messiah comes. That the
authority to rule would always be with Judah until Christ comes. But here, in verse 5, Luke seems to indicate
that Herod was ruling. Herod was not of the tribe of Judah – Herod was not even an Israelite. He was an Idumean,
an Edomite. And yet the title the Roman government gave him was “The King of the Jews.”

So Luke, right from the very beginning of this passage about how God always keeps his promises seems to imply
that one of God’s promises had been broken. But such was not the case! God’s promises never fail! Despite how
things appeared, God’s promise in Genesis 49 was still holding true. Luke knew this, and so his statement here
is just again a reminder of how God always keeps his promises, even when it doesn’t seem like it.[3] In the rest
of verse 5, we are introduced to Zacharias and Elizabeth. We are told somewhat of their genealogical record,
which for the Jew, is like a badge of honor.
But we learn what is most important about Zacharias and Elizabeth in Luke 1:6.

Luke 1:6. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the
Lord blameless.

This is quite a thing to have said about you! These were devout Jews, obedient to the law and the Word of God.
It may be because of their obedience that God decides to use them for great things. God can use all sorts of
people, but it seems that the people he uses the most are those who are the most faithful to him. Sometimes,
our sin holds God back from doing something great in our lives.

But Zacharias and Elizabeth were ready to be used by God for they lived blameless before God. It is very
important that Luke tells us such thing about them, because look what he says next in Luke 1:7.

Luke 1:7. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

It is important that Luke told us that Zacharias and Elizabeth were blameless because in Israelite culture, and
even in many cultures today, it was considered a curse from God for a woman to be without child – to be barren.
If a woman was not able to have a child, it was often thought that it was because God was punishing her for
some sin. But we see here that this was not the case. Zacharias and Elizabeth were blameless before God. They
were not being punished.

You see, often when we are dealing with a crisis, or a sickness in our own life, it is not because God is punishing
us. No, there are many other possible reasons for such things. Remember the man born blind in John 9? There
too, the disciples thought that this man had sinned, or that his parents had sinned, so that he was punished by
God with blindness. But Jesus said that neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that
God could be glorified. This was the same reason that Elizabeth was barren – so that God could be glorified.
Let’s see how this develops.

Luke 1:8-9. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the
custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

The priests cast lots to see who would go burn this incense. I am told that there was something like 32,000
priests who rotated service in the temple. Each group would serve two weeks of every year in the temple. While
there, they would cast lots to see which of these priests would go and burn the incense. So normally, a priest
would only get to light the incense once in a lifetime. It was a very special thing to do. In this case, the lot fell to
Zacharias.

We see from this that God is not a God of chance. God does not throw dice. God is behind all coincidences. A
chance meeting with someone you haven’t seen in church in a while is not coincidence, it is God giving you an
opportunity to encourage them and let them know they have been missed. There are no coincidences with God.
In fact, the Jews viewed coincidences as “tiny miracles.”

And don’t forget Proverbs 16:33 which says, “The lot falls into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord.”
The lot falling to Zacharias was no coincidence. So he went in to offer the incense..

Luke 1:10-12. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel
of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he
was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
This is always the response when someone sees an angel. I hear and I read of people who have claimed to see
angels. Television is full of such stories. We always hear about how the angel appeared in glowing white, and
how the person felt tingles and shivers and a warm sense of love and well being.

But whenever I read of people encountering angels in the Bible, they always tremble with fright, and fall flat on
their face in fear for their lives. It’s not really for me to judge whether they have seen an angel or not. All I know
is what I read in the Bible. And so we must be very careful. Remember, the Bible also tells us that the devil
masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). But this truly was an angel – we know from verse 19 that it was
Gabriel. And in verse 13, we see the message he was sent to share.

Luke 1:13a. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard;

Gabriel says that he does not have to be afraid of him, and that his prayer had been heard. But, what were they
praying for? Well, obviously, they had been praying for a child. However, we’re going to see in verse 18 that
Zacharias had long ago stopped praying for a child. He had given up on God. He had thought his prayers for a
child were not being heard, or had been ignored.

The angel tells him that his prayers had been heard, and that God was now going to answer. Look at the rest of
verse 13.

Luke 1:13b-17. and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have
joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 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. And he
will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 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.”

Do you want to know why God waited so long to answer the prayer of Zacharias and Elizabeth? Because He had
something better in store for them then they ever imagined! They were simply praying for a child, but God didn’t
want to give them just any child. He wanted to give them John the Baptist. And do you remember what Jesus
said about John the Baptist? Over in Luke 7:28, Jesus said that John was the great person to be born of a woman
up to that time. Isn’t that amazing? Zacharias and Elizabeth were praying for a child. They prayed and waited
and prayed and waited. And no child came.

But it wasn’t because God didn’t hear their prayers. It wasn’t because they were sinning and so God wasn’t
answering their prayers. It was because God had something in store for them beyond anything they could ask
or imagine. They would become the parents of John the Baptist who would prepare the way for Jesus Christ.
They had waited and waited and waited, and God had finally answered, in His own time, and in His own amazing
way!

But they had not been the only ones who were waiting. Do you see what Gabriel says in Luke 1:17? He quotes
from the Old Testament. If you have footnotes in your Bible, you will see that he quotes from Malachi 4:6. This
verse is the very last verse in the English Old Testament.

It’s on the last page of the Old Testament, in the last book, the last chapter, the last verse. We read, “And he
will turn the hearts of the father to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and
strike the earth with a curse.” This is a promise to the nation of Israel that God is going to send a man like Elijah
– see Elijah mentioned there in Luke 1:5? – to reunite Israel. So here is a promise of God – that’s what we’re
talking about in this passage today, right – the promises of God – here’s a promise of God to the nation of Israel.
Do you know when this promise was made? It was made around 450 B.C. That is, this promise of God was given
about 450 years before it happened. Zacharias and Elizabeth had been praying and waiting for maybe 20 or 30
years for a son, but the people of Israel had been praying and waiting for this promise to be fulfilled for 450
years! That’s a long time to wait for a promise. And yet God is faithful and he always keeps his Word. His
promises never fail. God kept his promise to Israel.

But let us return to Zacharias because it is with him that we learn another lesson about the promises of God.
God kept his promises to the nation of Israel, and God keeps his promises to individuals like Zacharias.

3. God keeps his promises to Zacharias (Luke 1:18-25)

Luke 1:18. 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.”

You know what Zacharias does here? He questions God. He doubts God. He says, “Well, I hear what you’re
saying, but I don’t think it can happen. And then he tries to give God a lesson in biology and procreation.” But
do you want to know what else we see here? We see that Zacharias had stopped praying for a child long ago.
We don’t know how long, but it may have been ten or fifteen years since he had prayed for a child.

You say, “Where do you get that, Jeremy?” I get it from the fact that Zacharias doubted. Look at it this way. If
he had still been praying, he would have said, “Wow! An answer to my prayer!” That’s what you do when you
get an answer to prayer. That’s what I do. But that is not what Zacharias did. Why not? I believe it was because
he was no longer praying. Zacharias had long ago given up on God. He had long ago stopped believing that God
would answer that prayer.

Is that where you are at today? You’ve prayed and prayed and prayed – but it seemed like God never heard, or
that God was ignoring you, or that God was telling you “no.” Maybe you’ve stopped praying. Maybe you’ve
stopped believing. Maybe you’ve stopped hoping. Let me say with Gabriel, “God has heard your prayer.” He will
answer, in His time. And even if you have stopped praying, even if you have stopped believing, we read in 2
Timothy 2:13 that even when we are faithless, he remains faithful. God has something better in mind for you
than you can ask or imagine, and He is simply waiting for His timing to make it happen. It may be tomorrow, it
may be next week, it may be 10 years from now. You may even have to wait until you get to heaven.

But do one thing for me. When your answer comes, when God says, “Ok, now I will work to give you that thing
you’ve been praying for,” don’t doubt God. Don’t question God. Don’t talk back to God. That’s what Zacharias
did here in verse 18. Look at the result in verses 19-20.

Luke 1:19-20. 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. 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.”

Doubting God is always a “dumb” thing to do. Some of you got that. We see in these verses that because
Zacharias doubted, God makes him dumb. He became unable to speak.

Luke 1:21-22. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 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.
This is where the game charades was invented…imagine getting this one. How do you act out an angel appearing
and telling that you are going to have a son?

Luke 1:23. So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.

God accomplished his purposes. God fulfilled his promises. Just because 450 years had passed for Israel, God
had not forgotten. Just because Zacharias had stopped praying, and just because he doubted God, this did not
stop God either. God’s promises will be fulfilled in His own timing and in His own way. And more than that, our
disbelief does not keep God from accomplishing his purposes. He does what he wants whether we believe him
or not.

We may be disciplined a bit for our unbelief like Zacharias was here, but God does what He wants whether we
believe Him or not. And look, in Luke 1:24-25, God did what he promised.

Luke 1:24-25. Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, “Thus
the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

God always keeps his promises. He kept his promises to Israel. He kept his promises to Zacharias. And He will
keep His promises to you. In causing Elizabeth to become pregnant in her old age, we read at the end of Luke
1:25 that God took away her reproach. God removed her shame of barrenness. One of the greatest promises in
the Bible which God has given to each of us is that like Elizabeth, He will take away our reproach and our greatest
shame.

This is what we read in Colossians 1:21-22: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by
wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and
blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Our greatest reproach, our greatest shame is our sin. And God has
promised that due to the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, we can have that shame, and that
reproach removed. God always keeps his promises, and this is one of His greatest.

His greatest promise is that anyone who believes in Jesus for everlasting life, receives it (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47).
God offers you and I the free gift of everlasting life which cannot be lost, and this gift is only received by simply
believing in Jesus for it. This is God’s greatest promise to you, which He will keep, because God is the greatest
promise keeper.

Notes:

[1] Nelson’s Illustrations, “Promise”


[2] Bob Deffinbaugh, lesson 1.
[3] In Genesis 49:10 it says that “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from beneath his feet,
until Shiloh comes…”

Shiloh literally means “the one to whom it belongs” and as used here, is another term for the promised Messiah,
the promised Seed. This verse tells us that the royal line would rise from the tribe of Judah, and that it will always
have the royal authority until the Messiah comes.

And this is exactly what happens. But over time, because of sin and disobedience, the Israelites lose more and
more of the power to rule themselves. Until finally, all that was left of the ruling power in Israel is the authority
of the Sanhedrin. The scepter had not yet departed from Judah, but the only thread they had left was the power
and authority of the Sandhedrin.

But in that year, the Roman Procurator Caponius took away their last shred of ruling power. And the Jews alive
at that time thought that God’s Word had failed. Never had there been a prophecy which did not come true,
but finally, they thought, one of God’s promises failed.

One of these teachers wrote, “Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not
come.” (Babylonian Talmud, 4,37). When was this written? It was written right about the time when a young
boy of about 12 years old is marveling some of these teachers at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Right at the time when they were bemoaning the fact that God’s Word had failed them, and they had been
rejected by God, there was God’s Word in the flesh standing right before them, showing them that rather than
rejecting them, God himself had come to deliver them. God’s Word had not failed. It had been perfectly fulfilled.

Gospel of Luke Sermon Series: December 17, Ptr. Jay


Luke 1:26-56 – Thoughtful Mary
Mary Was Thoughtful About God’s Word (Luke 1:29-38)
Mary Was Thoughtful About Others (Luke 1:39-45)
Mary Was Thoughtful About God (Luke 1:46-55)
As we continue our journey through the book of Luke, we come to look at one of the main characters in the
Christmas story – Mary the mother of Jesus. The main character in the Christmas story is Jesus Christ. After all,
Christmas is named after Him! So we never want to lose sight of the centrality of Jesus Christ in the Christmas
story. But some do this very thing when they focus on the Christmas story. Some people have caused Mary to
almost eclipse the glory and greatness of Jesus Christ. Some people have almost placed Mary above Jesus in
importance.
For example, here is a clipping I pulled out of the Daily Interlake newspaper a few months back. It is a prayer to
the Blessed Virgin. It says this,
Oh, most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, blessed mother of the Son of God.
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. Oh, star of the sea, help me and show me herein you are my mother.
Oh, Holy Mary, mother of God, queen of heaven and earth! I humble beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity. There are none that can withstand your power…
And the prayer goes on from there. But did you hear the wording? Mary is called the splendor of heaven, the star
of the sea, the queen of heaven and earth. It says that there are none who can withstand her power. From what
we are going to see about Mary today in Luke, I think that she would be horrified at such adoration. She would
be distraught that such exalted titles had been given to her. She would be angry, upset even, about these things.
You see, Mary was a humble young woman who wanted nothing more than to give all praise and glory to God.
She did not want to be noticed. She did not want to be recognized. And she definitely did not want to receive the
praise and adoration that she sometimes receives. She was all about being humble and giving all glory to God.
This is what we are going to see – and much more – in Luke 1:26-56. We will learn about the thoughtfulness of
Mary. She was thoughtful in three ways. As we go through them, ask yourself which one you can work on.
Let us begin in Luke 1:26 where the stage is set, and we are introduced to Mary and the Messenger from Heaven.
Luke 1:26-28. Now in the sixth month [this is the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Remember, Elizabeth was
six months pregnant with John the Baptist – in the sixth month) the angel Gabriel (this is the same angel, the
same messenger who appeared to Zacharias) was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin
betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having
come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
We learn so much in these verses about Mary! We learn that she was not very prominent because she was living
in Nazareth. Nazareth was a little town in the middle of nowhere. It was the boondocks, it was the sticks. Nobody
of any importance lived in Nazareth. But that is where Mary was. We also learn that she was pure because she
was a virgin.
We learn that she was promised or betrothed to Joseph, who was of the house of David. This was probably an
arranged marriage, and Joseph was probably much older than Mary. He could have been in his late twenties, or
thirties, some even think he was in his forties. She was probably in her early to mid teens. She was probably 14
or 15, though she could have been as young as twelve. [1]

But the most important thing that we learn about here in Luke 1:28, is that she was praised. In verse 28, the angel
greets her with a blessing. He says, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among
women!”
Now, ladies…men too, I suppose, but you’ll have to change the wording…what would your response be if an angel
appeared to you and said this to you? You’re drinking your cup of coffee tomorrow morning while reading your
Bible, and all of a sudden, an angel appears to you, and says, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you,
blessed are you among all people.” What would you do? What would you think?
Now, I’ve asked this question of myself, and I think that if an angel were to appear to me and say something along
these lines to me, I think I would get puffed up with pride. I know my own heart. I know the pride that lurks within
me. I think most of us would be in the same boat. We would call up our neighbors and tell them what had
happened. During the next conversation with so-and-so from church, we would, in an offhand manner, say
something like, “Well, you’ll never believe what happened to me. I was doing my devotions the other morning,
and an angel appeared to me and told me that I was more blessed than anyone else on earth. Sniff.”
Of course, I’m sure that part of the reason we do not receive such blessings is because God knows how we would
handle it. We would get all puffed up and arrogant. But not Mary. Not Mary. Look at verse 29.
Mary Was Thoughtful About God’s Word (Luke 1:29-38)
Luke 1:29. But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this
was.
Mary did not get puffed up. Mary did not become arrogant. She didn’t even say, “Yep, I knew that was coming
because I’m so obedient to God. I’m such a great person.” No, the text says, she was troubled at his saying. She
was troubled. That’s strange, isn’t it? It’s the last response we would expect out of someone who has just been
blessed. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone says, “Oh, God has just been blessing my socks off!
And it is so troubling.”
But this is the response of Mary. And do you want to know why? Because Mary was thoughtful. I told you we
were going to see this about her, and here is where we learn the first part of it. Mary was troubled because she
was thoughtful, in the sense that Mary understood the Word of God. She was contemplative; she was reflective
about the Word. Mary was thoughtful about the Word of God. Mary knew the Word, and that is why she was
troubled at this blessing. How do we know this? Well, in several ways. First of all, just as another heads up, that
her song in verses 47-55 is full of Scriptural truths from the Old Testament.
Second, we know from the rest of her life, that she is very careful to know and obey the law of God and the Old
Testament regulations. She made sure that after Jesus was born he was circumcised on the eighth day (2:21), he
was presented at the temple (2:22-28), and they took Him yearly to the Passover in Jerusalem (2:41). Mary knew
her Bible and was careful to obey her Bible. We get a good hint of her knowledge of the Word right here in Luke
1:29. I believe she was troubled because she knew from the Old Testament that blessings are not an end in
themselves. God is very liberal with His blessings, but He does not intend to bless just so that we can be blessed.
You see, Mary knew that when God bestows divine blessings upon His people, the blessing was always for the
purpose of greater responsibility. God’s blessings are not just blessings. They are for the purpose of giving greater
responsibility. Did you know that? God never blesses just for the sake of blessing. He blesses us because He wants
us to do something with those blessings. And the greater the blessing, the greater the responsibility.
For example, if He gives the blessing of a good mind and knowledge, He wants us to use that knowledge to teach
and apply the truth to our lives and others. If He gives us a blessing of money, He wants us to use that money to
finance His work around the world. He gives the blessing of children so that we can raise them up to be Godly
offspring, Godly men and women who will serve Him with their lives. He gives the blessing of living in America so
that we can use our wealth and our resources and our position in the world to help other people and to help the
Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ be spread to nations that are still in spiritual darkness.

The angel told Mary that God was going to greatly bless her – and she was troubled. She was so young for such
great demands upon her life. Although she was pure before God, she knew that she was a sinner, and she didn’t
know if she was up to such great responsibility. She knew her Bible, and she knew that when an angel appears to
give you a message from God, it will be no small task that God is asking. And it wasn’t. As we all know, God was
asking her to be the mother of God. I can’t imagine such a task.
Wendy and I are worried enough about raising our children. What if we do something wrong? What if we are too
harsh in our punishment? What if we are not involved enough in her life? What about all the things in life that
we cannot protect her from? What if she makes the wrong friends? What if she gets sick? All parents have these
similar kinds of worries. But imagine if you were Mary! Trying to raise the Son of God. We get stressed out raising
our own kids. What if you had to raise Jesus? You bet she was troubled. She didn’t know if she was up to the task.
Of course, she doesn’t actually know yet what the blessing will be, but she finds out in verse 30 and following.
Look there with me.
Luke 1:30-33. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold,
you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be
called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign
over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Gabriel tells her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. Don’t be afraid of me. Don’t be afraid of this blessing. God’s blessings
are always good and this one is the best of all.” And he goes on to tell her that she is going to be the Mother of
the promised Messiah.
Luke 1:34. Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
Now this should remind us of a very similar statement Zacharias made back in verse 18. In both instances, the
angel Gabriel pronounces a blessing, and in both instances, the human recipient, Zacharias in verse 18, and Mary,
here in Luke 1:34, questions the message. But remember last week, I said that Zacharias’ response was one of
doubt and criticism. Zacharias did not really believe that the promise would come true through him.
I believe that although Mary asks a question here, she is not asking out of unbelief and doubt as Zacharias was,
but out of faith and trust. I get this both out of how the questions are asked, and also how the angel responds.
You see, up in Luke 1:18, Zacharias asks, “How shall I know this?” He is saying, “How can that happen? How is
that possible? How could that ever happen?” When he says, “How can I know this?” he is almost even asking for
a sign so that he can know the truth of what the angel says. And the angel kind of says to him, “Look, I’m a
messenger from God, and if God says it that settles it.”
Though Mary, like Zacharias, asks a question, she is unlike Zacharias, in that she is not doubting that the angels
words will come to pass. Zacharias’ questions revealed his doubt that what the angel said would happen. Mary’s
question reveals that she believes it will happen; she is just curious how it will happen.[2] She asks, How can this
be, “How will this happen” since I do not know a man? “since I am a virgin?”
I get from this that it is never wrong to try to seek understanding, to try to work things out logically, to try to ask
God what He is doing, and how He is doing it, and why He is doing it. The questions are not wrong. But we need
to recognize that when God clearly gives a promise, we should not question the promise. We can ask how God is
going to bring it about, but we should not think that God is not going to bring it about. We need to trust God’s
Word even when we don’t know the particulars. It’s never wrong to ask for the particulars, but even when we
ask, we need to know that He may or may not give us the answers.
Mary, in her asking, does kind of get an answer to her question. Look at verse 35.

Luke 1:35-37. 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. 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. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Gabriel answers Mary and tells her that the Holy Spirit is going to cause it to happen. In other words, it will be a
miracle. He goes on to tell her that God had performed a miracle with Elizabeth as well. She is going to have a
son in her old age, even though she was barren.
Luke 1:37 is the key, With God nothing will be impossible.
You know what? Whether we understand how it works or not doesn’t matter. God can do anything He wants that
is within His will. Nothing is impossible for God. If He wants to allow a barren woman to be with child, that is an
easy thing for Him to do. If He wants a virgin to be with child, that is also an easy thing for Him to do. If He wants
to part the Red Sea, if He wants to raise people from the dead, if He wants to feed 5000 with just five loaves and
two fish, it is an easy thing for Him to do.
So also in your life. Very likely, there are circumstances in your life which you feel are impossible. An unsaved
relative, a financial need, a sickness. Whatever it might be, let your requests be made known to God, for He revels
in doing the impossible.
Now, having said that, let me also share a caution. We must make sure that we do not take verse 37 out of context
or use it as a proof text for bad theology. Just because God can do the impossible, does not mean He always will.
“Anything God determines to do He can accomplish, because there is nothing impossible with God. But that does
not mean He will do everything [we] want him to do, because some things are not included in His plan.” [3] God
can do the impossible, but He only does it when it accomplishes His purposes.
Luke 1:38. Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And
the angel departed from her.
Again, how different from Zacharias! No doubt from Mary, just trust and faith. She heard God’s Word, she had a
minor question, which was answered. And in verse 38, she shows her trust and reliance upon God’s Word. She
was very thoughtful about the Word of God. She knew that God’s blessings bring great responsibility, and that
God’s promises never fail. I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” That’s
Mary’s kind of bumper sticker.
Now, I think that a natural result of being thoughtful, and being knowledgeable, of being filled with the Word of
God, is being thoughtful about others. Luke 1:29-38 showed that Mary was thoughtful about the Word of God.
Luke 1:39-45 show that she is also thoughtful about others.
Mary Mother of Jesus Christ
Mary Was Thoughtful About Others (Luke 1:39-45)
Luke 1:39-40. Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and
entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
This journey from Nazareth to the hill country of Judah is quite a distance, and is nearly identical to the journey
she will make about 9 months later when she and Joseph go to Bethlehem for the census. But I see in Luke 1:39-
40 two people that Mary was thoughtful about. You say, “Yeah, Zacharias and Elizabeth.” No, not them. Elizabeth
is one, but I see someone else she is thoughtful about first. The first person Mary was thoughtful about was
Joseph, the man she was betrothed to. The man she was going to marry.
You say, “Where do you get that from, Jeremy? Joseph is not even mentioned here.” Yes, I know, but from the
other Gospel accounts it appears that Mary never told Joseph what had happened to her. I’m sure part of this
was because of her humility, but even still, how do you go about explaining to someone that although you are
pregnant, you are still a virgin?

I don’t think Mary ever tried to explain to Joseph what happened. She probably also didn’t try to defend herself
to Joseph. I think that she figured that if God still wanted her to marry Joseph, that God would tell Joseph what
happened also. It was not her place to go and try to force Joseph to understand and believe what the angel had
told her.
Mary knew that when God wants to get a message through to someone like Joseph, God often sends the message
straight to that person, rather than through someone else. But Mary here, in verse 39, is thoughtful about Joseph.
She loves Joseph and doesn’t want her pregnancy to damage his reputation. You see, it was a very shameful thing
for a woman to get pregnant out of wedlock, and it was even more shameful if she got pregnant while she was
betrothed, and even more shameful still if the man she was pregnant by was not the man she was betrothed to.
In such a case, it was shameful for both the man and the woman. Mary’s pregnancy, when found out, would be
shameful both for her and for Joseph. Both would become the objects of ridicule and scorn. She wanted to spare
Joseph this ridicule if she could, and so she left as soon as possible, and went far away to go visit Elizabeth. Mary
was first of all thoughtful about Joseph.
But Mary was also thoughtful about Elizabeth. Mary left Nazareth, not only to try to protect Joseph, but also to
go and help Elizabeth. Remember, Elizabeth was getting up there in years. She was well past the normal age for
child bearing. And being pregnant, from what I hear, and from what I have observed, is not easy for any woman
of any age. But Elizabeth was older and needed help. Maybe she even needed someone to talk to. Remember,
Zacharias still can’t talk.
He was one of those strong, silent types…Can’t you just hear Elizabeth? “Zacharias, you never talk to me any
more!”
So Mary, in thinking of Elizabeth, goes to help her out. Now, we do not know if Mary was going to tell Elizabeth
about the child she herself was carrying or not. Even if she was planning on telling Elizabeth, we can be sure she
wasn’t going to be boastful about it. Can you imagine Mary taunting other women with, “I’m the mother of the
Messiah, I’m the mother of the Messiah.” No, I don’t think so. Remember, Mary was humble about her blessing
and humble about her responsibility.
Anyway, whether she was going to tell Elizabeth or not doesn’t matter, because as soon as Mary enters into the
house, the baby in Elizabeth jumps for joy and Elizabeth knows Who (with a capital W) Mary is carrying. Look at
Luke 1:41.
Luke 1:41-45. 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. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you
among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord
should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my
womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from
the Lord.”
Elizabeth shows that she knows that Mary is carrying the promised Messiah. And there in Luke 1:45 is another
statement about believing in the promises of God that they will be fulfilled. We talked about some of that last
week. So Mary has come to help Elizabeth during the last three months of her pregnancy. Skip ahead real quick
to Luke 1:56.
Luke 1:56. And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.
The last three months are some of the most difficult months, and Mary might have stayed and help deliver John.
We are told in verse 58 that some of Elizabeth’s relatives were there, but we aren’t really told who.
Anyway, the reason Mary was there was because she cared for Joseph, and she cared for Elizabeth. Mary was
thoughtful about others. Now, at the end of verse 56, we read that Mary returned home. I’m sure that she and
Elizabeth talked about Joseph, and what he might do when he found out Mary was pregnant. And they probably
decided that Mary should return home and face whatever comes. God had given her this blessing and the
responsibility that came with it, and if that meant not getting married, then so be it. If that meant her name
getting dragged through the mud, then so be it.
She was confident that God knew what He was doing. Mary was about to go through a great trial in her life. A
time when people talked about her behind her back. A time when people pointed the finger at her and told lies
about her. A time when people spread gossip and rumors about her. But she knew that God knew what He was
doing. And so, after helping Elizabeth for a time, Mary returned home. Mary was very thoughtful. She was
thoughtful about God’s Word, and she was thoughtful about others.
In Luke 1:46-55, we see the last thing she was thoughtful about. When Mary entered into Elizabeth’s house, and
John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, Elizabeth made the pronouncement of blessing in verse 42. She said, Blessed are
you among woman, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,
And Mary, says in response, “Yep, I’m pretty blessed. It’s because I’m such a good person. I really deserve all this
blessing. After all, I’ve lived holy all my life. Aren’t I great? I hope people worship me someday.” Is that what she
said? NO! In Luke 1:46-55, we see that Mary was thoughtful about God.
Mary Mother of Jesus
Mary Was Thoughtful About God (Luke 1:46-55)
She knew that she did not deserve the blessing God had poured out upon her, and when Elizabeth said, “You are
so blessed,” Mary responds with a song of praise and adoration to God. Mary responds by giving all the credit
and all the glory to God. Mary responds with a heart full of thanksgiving to God.
She doesn’t know what will happen to her. She doesn’t know all the joys and trials that this blessing will bring.
But she does know God, and that He deserves to be praised. And so that is what she does. In every single verse,
she magnifies the Lord, and praises His name, and tells of all that He has done. And by the way, this song she
sings also shows that she was always thinking about God’s Word. Every verse alludes to Old Testament Scriptures.
Mary sings a Scriptural song of praise to God. She wants to give credit where credit is due.
I don’t have time to get deep into the song, so let me just read it.
Luke 1:46-55. And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Mary was very thoughtful toward God. God doesn’t need anything from us, but He does want to receive our
praise when He blesses us, or when He does something great for us. Asking God for things is okay, but we must
remember to thank Him and praise Him and glorify Him when He provides the things we ask for. Our prayers
should be equal parts petition and praise, and if anything, maybe a bit heavy on the praise.

Like Mary, let’s be thoughtful. Let’s be thoughtful first of all, about the Word of God. Allowing the Word of God
to dwell in us richly is the basis and foundation for everything in the Christian life. Secondly, be thoughtful about
others. As you all know, Christmas is not about me, and what’s under the tree for me. The reason Christ came
that first Christmas was not for himself, and what He could get. No, he came for others. He came for sinners. He
came to give of himself. Mary practiced this before Christ was ever born. We can practice it too. This Christmas,
let’s be mindful and thoughtful of others. Finally, be thoughtful of God. He wants to receive your praise and
adoration for all that he has done for you and all that he is to you.
Gospel of Luke Sermon series: December 17, 2017. Ptr. Jay
Luke 1:46-55 – The Songs of Christmas: Mary’s Song
Praise (Luke 1:46-47)
Mary’s Benefit (Luke 1:48-49)
World’s Benefit (Luke 1:50-53)
Israel’s Benefit (Luke 1:54-55)
My wife Wendy loves Christmas carols. They are what make the Christmas season so special and memorable. This
is probably true of all of us. The tunes and the words remind us of what this season is all about. They remind us
of growing up, singing these very same songs in a candlelight Christmas eve service. They remind us of sitting on
the couch in our living room, watching the lights on the Christmas tree sparkle while listening to carols on the
stereo. Yes, Christmas carols are one of the things that make Christmas, Christmas. Did you know that such songs
praising the Savior’s birth were always part of this celebration? Such songs actually began to be sung before the
Savior was even born. One of the songs is sung by Mary, and the other is composed by Zacharias. There are
actually five songs in these first two chapters of Luke. Two by women, two by men, and one by the heavenly
angels. Henry Burton, writing at the end of the 19th century, likens these two chapters to the entryway of the
grand cathedral of the Gospel. Imagine, as you enter the doors to this cathedral, the first thing you encounter is
glorious music. On the one side are Zacharias and Simeon, the one chanting his Benedictus, and the other his
Nunc Dimittis. Facing them, as if in antiphony, are Elizabeth and Mary, the one singing her Beatitude, and other
her Magnificat; while overhead, in the frescoed and star lighted sky, are vast multitudes of the heavenly host,
enriching the Advent music with their Glorias. [1]
Burton goes on like this for some time. It is wonderful reading, and very poetic. It seems when reading his sermon
that you are being ushered slowly into the crystal halls of grace, your heart begins to beat with the excitement of
standing before the throne and bowing before the feet of Almighty God. That is the point of music. To invite us,
to call us, to prepare us to meet God. Luke beckons us into his Gospel with beautiful music that calls us to worship
God. He has put together his choir. Two women, two men, and the angels as backup vocals. Burton says that at
first, the songs seem too loud. They seem deafening, out of place, confusing. This struck a note with me, because
that is exactly what I thought last year when I was preaching on the opening chapters of Luke. These songs seem
so misplaced, abrupt and strangely out of character for people like Mary, Zacharias and Simeon. But Burton points
out that they are intended to be deafening, for look what event in history they proclaim! How sad and empty it
would be if Jesus Christ had come to earth, and there was no music to proclaim His arrival. Matthew, Mark and
John do not include any of these songs, so how thankful we are that Luke did. Can you imagine Christmas without
Christmas carols? What a tragedy it would be if the first Christmas had no music to announce Christ’s coming.
Burton says that “had there not been a burst of song, [and that the most joyful burst in history], we [would] have
listened for the very stones to cry out, rebuking the silence.” This is seen to be true as we look at Mary’s Song. It
is found in Luke 1:46-55. It is sometimes referred to as the Magnificat, which is a Latin term from the opening
word of Luke 1:46. It means, “To magnify.” Mary’s song is all about magnifying Jesus Christ as Lord. Though He
has not yet been born, she wants to sing His praises and magnify His name. This is where all such songs begin –
with praise to God for what He has done.
I. Praise (Luke 1:46-47)
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
Mary reveals something here very significant about praising and worshipping God. Although verse 46 comes first,
it is in the present tense, whereas verse 47 is in the past tense. In other words, her soul magnifies God, because
her spirit has already rejoiced in God. A spirit that rejoices in God leads to a soul that magnifies God. Biblically,
the soul is the root and seat of our emotions. It refers to our inner self, our emotional center (Psa. 6:3; 10:3). It is
through our souls that we relate personally and emotionally with other people. But the spirit is altogether
different. The spirit is not our emotional side. It is the side of us that relates to God. It is the part of us that knows
who God is, and what He is like, and what He wants from us. It is the part of us that understands what God has
done for us, and all that He has given to us. When Mary says that her spirit has rejoiced in God, she is saying that
she has understood who God is. She knows what He has said in His Word. She believes in the truths He has
revealed. This is the beginning point of all true worship of God—an understanding of the facts about God.
Emotions and feelings are not necessarily part of true worship. There are a lot of people who think they have not
worshipped God unless they get goosebumps and chills, or break out in tears, or end up shouting with excitement.
That is soulish worship, but not spiritual worship. Mary reveals that true worship of God begins with the spirit. It
begins with an understanding who God is, and what He has done, and all that He has given to us. If you do not
understand the truths of Scripture, you cannot truly worship God in your spirit.
This is why Jesus says in John 4 that true worshippers worship God in spirit and in truth. True worship of God
flows through the spirit based upon the foundation of the Word of God. Where the Scriptures are not understood,
the spirit does not get involved, and there can be no true worship. Sometimes, the emotions and feelings of the
soul get involved. This is what happens to Mary here. She says that her soul magnifies, and praises and delights
in the Lord. In other words, she is very emotional, and excited about God. But this only happened because her
spirit willfully understood and rejoiced in God her Savior. A lot of people say they can’t worship unless they feel
like it. They also think they are not truly worshipping unless they feel something. Mary reveals that true worship
of God will sometimes lead to feelings, but not always. True worship of God does not focus on feelings, but on
what God has done for us, and what God has given to us. When you come to church, or when you sit down on
Monday morning with a cup of coffee to listen to your worship CD and read your Bible, what do you do these
things for? Is it to get a tingle from God? Is it to feel the brush of angel’s wings? Is it to sense the Spirit falling
fresh upon you?
These sorts of things are wonderful when they happen, but they do not necessarily reveal that you have
worshipped. True worship is in the Spirit, not in our emotions, and is based on the truth, not on how we feel. Do
you want to worship God? Get into the Word of God, and ask the Spirit of God to open the truths of Scriptures
to your mind. Sometimes the soul will jump in and you will get that tingle, and that rush, and heart beating
wildly…but not always, and maybe not very often. True worship does not depend on emotions, but depends on
spiritually understanding the Scriptures. We know that this is how Mary worshipped. Mary had a mind that was
thoroughly soaked in Scripture. We know this from the way the angel speaks to her and how she responds to the
angel. We know it from the words Mary speaks. We know it from the way Mary lives and raises Jesus. We know
it from the way she interacts with her husband Joseph.
We also know it, because this song of hers is very similar to the song of Hannah, when she gives birth to Samuel,
and the song of Miriam, when the Israelites escaped the Egyptian army by passing through the Red Sea. In this
song, which is ten verses long, there are fifteen discernable quotations from the Old Testament. Mary’s mind was
saturated with Scripture. Mary knew the word of God, and it came out of her when she worshipped God. How do
you respond to the truths of God? With a yawn of boredom? Respond like Mary. These truths are eternal truths,
rich truths, inspiring truths. If you allow God to speak to you through His Word, there will be times when you
want to break out in song for the magnificence of what He has revealed to you. For Mary, worshipping God was
the greatest and most exciting thing she could do. The truths and promises she learned about God from Scripture
caused her to rejoice in her whole being. She worshipped God in spirit and in truth. She rejoiced in the God of
her salvation. She magnified the Lord, and exalted His name. In the rest of her song, we see some of the truths
of Scripture she had learned and was exited about. She sings about how the Messiah will benefit her, how He will
benefit the world, and how He will benefit Israel. Her benefits are found in Luke 1:48-49.

Virgin Mary
II. Mary’s Benefit (Luke 1:48-49)
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
I think it is interesting how some religious institutions have mixed up these two verses. Mary says that she will be
blessed, and that God is Holy. Yet certain organizations have mixed this up, and call Mary holy. She is called “Holy
Mary, Mother of God.” She is definitely the mother of God, and she is definitely blessed, but it is God who is holy.
She was a sinner just like the rest of us. There is no such thing as the Immaculate Conception. This is the idea that
Mary was sinless, and so that is how Jesus was born without sin. But Jesus was born without sin because He did
not have an earthly father. Instead, God, who alone is holy, is His Father. Mary reveals her knowledge of this in
these verses. First, she speaks of her own lowly state. This of course, refers to her own humility and lowliness of
mind. But it also refers to her sinful condition. She understood that she was a sinner.
The word Mary uses here is also used in Philippians 3:21 to refer to the body of sin that we all find ourselves in.
Philippians 3:21 speaks of our body of humiliation, in direct contrast to the body of glorification we will receive in
heaven. The main difference between our body now, and our body in heaven, is sin. Mary knows she is a sinner.
This is why she is lowly and humble. Secondly, she also recognizes that she is a servant. She refers to herself as
the Maidservant of God. She does not deserve anything from God, but wishes only to serve and please Him. Yet
though she is a sinner and a servant, God has seen fit to bless her. She recognizes that all generations will call her
blessed. This is not a statement of pride, but is a remembrance of what the angel had already told her. When he
appeared, he proclaimed, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women”
(1:28). And this is true. She has been blessed. She is the most favored woman on the face of the earth. Some have
overreacted and have idolized her, which is something I know Mary would not have wanted. But we do not have
to idolize her to call her blessed. But did you know that you can be blessed more than Mary? Later in Jesus’ life,
He is teaching, and a woman shouts out from the crowd, “Blessed is the womb that bore you…” Jesus responds
by saying, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28)
Jesus was not trying to downplay the significance of Mary’s blessing. He was putting her blessedness in
perspective. We have already seen the Mary was blessed because of her knowledge of and obedience to the
Word of God. Jesus reveals that if you and I want to be blessed just as much, if not more, than Mary, all we have
to do is do the same thing she did – hear the Word of God and obey it. This is what it all comes back to. The Word
of God must be heard and obeyed. This is where true worship of God springs from. This is where true blessings
from God come from. If you want to worship God, you must get into the Word. If you want to be blessed by God,
you must get into the Word. Mary’s song reveals all of this. She understands what God has said. She understands
who God is. She understands what God has done. She understands what God has done for her. And in Luke 1:50-
53, she understands what God has done for the world.
III. World’s Benefit (Luke 1:50-53)
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
Mary sings that God responds in two ways to the two different kinds of people in the world. There are those who
fear God and obey Him, and those who are proud and arrogant. The ones who fear God and obey Him receive
His mercy and provision for their needs. They are exalted. Those who are arrogant and haughty are cast down
and scattered. Fearing God is a respectful obedience of Him. He shows his mercy to those who fear Him. The
greatest act of mercy God has ever shown is in sending Jesus Christ to the world to save sinners such as you and
I. Though we deserved only punishment, God did not give this to us, but gave us Jesus Christ instead. All who
believe in Him alone receive eternal life. Mary implies that this good news is not just for her generation, but can
be passed down from generation to generation. The good news is for all people. The blessings of God through
Jesus Christ are for everybody, if they will just believe in Jesus. We see the opposite happens to those who trust
only in themselves. The proud trust in themselves and in their own plans. God scatters these plans and does not
let them come to fruition. He “breaks their measures, blasts their projects…brings them low, brings them
down…[and He does this] by the very counsels with which they thought to advance and establish themselves.”[4]
They lay traps for others, but God causes them to fall into it themselves. Their pride leads only to their own
destruction. The plans come to nothing.
In the book of Esther, Haman sets out to destroy the people of Israel and magnify himself. But the story ends with
him losing everything he had worked for, and even getting hung on the gallows he built for his enemy, Mordecai.
Though God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, His handiwork is seen everywhere in exalting the humble,
and bringing down the proud. Even in the rest of history, the higher men rise, the further they fall.
Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar. Alexander the Great. Emperor Nero. William the Conqueror. Genghis Khan.
Napoleon. Hitler. Stalin. Saddam Hussein.[5] Kings and princes and presidents. Those who set themselves up the
highest, fall furthest from the throne.
This is what Mary sings. While the proud are brought down and left empty handed, the humble and lowly are
filled and exalted. This is not because their plans were so great, but because their God is. This is the benefit God
has poured out upon the world through the coming of the Messiah. This was a wonderful promise for people in
Mary’s day. “The common people of that day were almost helpless when it came to justice and civil rights. They
were often hungry, downtrodden and discouraged (Luke 4:16-19), and there was no way to ‘fight the system.’
“…Mary saw the Lord turning everything upside down: the weak dethrone the mighty, the humble scatter the
proud, the nobodies are exalted, the hungry are filled, and the rich end up poor!” This reminds us of the
beatitudes we read in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. Such truths are very comforting, even for us. When you are
wronged, God will set it straight. When you are downtrodden, God will lift you up. When you are slighted, God
will bless you. When you are insulted, God will exalt you. Of course, the condition for Him doing these things for
you is that you must be humble and lowly yourself. You must be in the Word and obedient to it. Mary begins her
song by magnifying God. If you have trouble magnifying God, it is probably because you are magnifying yourself.
If you have trouble praising God, it is probably because you are trying to sit in His seat. You had better step down
before you get tripped up. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. This is the benefit to the world.
The final benefit goes to Israel in Luke 1:54-55.
Mary Mother of Jesus
IV. Israel’s Benefit (Luke 1:54-55)
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.
Although the people of Israel have almost always been in a state of rebellion against God, God reminds them here
through Mary that He will never forsake them, but will always remember them and will always fulfill His promises
to them. God is on Israel’s side! Mary once again shows her knowledge of Scripture by quoting one of the
promises of God to Abraham from the Old Testament (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:19; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). Don’t ever let
anyone tell you that God has permanently set Israel aside and will not fulfill His promises to her. If God does not
fulfill His promises to Israel, He might not fulfill His promises to us either. God always fulfills all of His promises.
He does not lie. Mary shows she understands that the baby in her womb is God fulfilling another promise to
Israel. It is God coming to help Israel and fulfill His Word. Mary’s song is a beautiful reminder of all that God has
done for us and has promised to do for those who follow after Him. It is a new song that burst from the lips of
Mary based on what she knew Scripture to say. This song, for me, seems to end abruptly. All of a sudden, it’s just
over. It stops. Maybe Mary drifted off into humming her tune. Maybe Luke didn’t record all of her song. But I
think her song ended just as recorded here—with an abrupt stop.Why? Because her song is not over. This was
just the first verse of millions more to come. She sang many more stanzas throughout her life, and the men and
women of God throughout time who allow the words of Scripture to penetrate their minds have added many
more words to this song. You can add your own verse too. Your life is a stanza in the greatest song ever written.
You are part of a divine symphony. How are you playing your piece? It’s like the end of the book of Acts. Acts 28
ends without any conclusion. It seems that there should be an Acts 29. And there is. There is no end to Acts,
because you and I are continuing to write chapters in that book which records the acts of the Christians in the
church. You and I are Acts 29, and 30, and 31 and on and on. It’s similar with Mary’s song. You and I are writing
more stanzas. “It must never be forgotten that whenever Christ has entered into the human heart, a new song
has been put into the mouth of the believer. Christianity in the heart means music in the life. A religion without
joy is a landscape without the sun. Christianity without [the] elevation [of music] is as an eagle with broken wings.”
Do you want to mount up with wings like eagles? Do you want to run, and not grow weary? Turn to Scripture
every single day, asking God to give you a note to sing. He will show you a verse, or a passage that He wants you
to think about, meditate upon and pray through that day. These verses pluck on the harp strings of your life, and
you will feel as if there is a constant song on your lips and a bounce in your step. There was a book written many
years ago called The Life of Billy Bray. Billy’s whole life was spent in praising the Lord, and for the most part aloud.
He couldn’t help himself; with a heart always in tune, every influence, every breath, shook…some note of
thanksgiving. “As I go along,” he said, “I lift up one foot, and it seems to say, “Glory!” and I lift up the other, and
it seems to say, “Amen!” and they keep on like that all the time I walk.” If you had passed him on the street, you
probably would have heard him singing. “Bless the Lord, I can sing,” he would say. “My heavenly Father likes to
hear me sing. I can’t sing so sweetly as some, but my Father likes to hear me sing as well as those who can sing
better than I can. My Father likes to hear the crow as well as the nightingale, for He made them both.” You may
not have a good voice. You may not have a poetic way of saying things. It doesn’t matter. God made you, and He
loves to hear you sing and give praise to His glory. God gave you the wonderful gift of salvation through Jesus
Christ. During Christmas, people often ask what to give to the person who has everything. But only God has
everything. So what do you give to the God who has everything? You give Him praise. You give Him thanks. That’s
what He wants. Learn a lesson from Mary – sing praise and thanks to God this Christmas.
Gospel of Luke Sermon series: December 24, Ptr. Jun
Luke 1:57-80 – What’s in a Name?
A Paternal Problem (Luke 1:57-66)
A Proud Papa’ Praise (Luke 1:67-79)
A Prophet’s Preparation (Luke 1:80)
What’s in a name? How and why do we parents choose what to name our children? My wife, Wendy, will have
our second child sometime in mid to late January, and for months now, we have been trying to decide on a name.
We still have not decided for sure on any one name. I’m sure many of you parents have had the same experience.
But have you ever considered what factors we use to choose a name? Here in the modern, western civilization,
we often pick names based on how a name sounds, or what the name reminds us of, or whether it is a common
name or not. Some people like unique names, some people don’t. Maybe when you were naming your kids, there
was a name you thought was good, but when you mentioned it to your spouse, they were reminded of a kid they
had trouble with back in grade school, and so could never name their child that.
There are other reasons for why names come and go. For example, you don’t hear of too many boys nowadays
being named Fred, Harry or Larry. But those names were quite popular for several decades of the 20th Century.
Of course, didn’t David Letterman name his new son Harry? That’s something only David Letterman would do.
On the other hand, I met a little three-year-old girl a few weeks ago named Harley. Her last name was Davidson.
What does that tell you about her parents? When I was a kid, the name Jeremy was a quite popular name. My
mother tells me, however, that when she gave me the name, she thought she had found a very unique name. But
many other mothers thought the same thing, so that when I was in school, there were three other Jeremy’s in
my same class. And that was only a class of about 25 kids. The rest of the school had at least four other Jeremy’s,
and at church there were more still. So Jeremy was a very common name for my age group. But, I remember
thinking, when I was about eight or ten that I was never going to grow up, because I didn’t know any grown-ups
with the name Jeremy. Jeremy was not an adult name. But here I am, and now there are many adults named
Jeremy because we all became adults at about the same time. Anyway, picking a name is a curious process, isn’t
it? And today, in the last part of Luke 1, we learn of the events surrounding the naming of a child. We will be
looking today at Luke 1:57-80.
In the Middle East, they pick names based on different criteria than we do. For them, the way the name sounded
was not that important. It was also not that important if the name was popular or unpopular. Generally, they
picked names in one of two ways. First, they most often named firstborn sons after the father, and other sons
after some other relative. Similarly, girls were often named after the mother or grandmother. But sometimes,
they chose different names for their children, and in these cases the names were chosen for what they mean.
You see, names are like all words, they have definitions. And the people of the Middle East often looked upon the
meaning of the name of a child as a prediction or prophecy for what kind of person that child would grow up to
be. When we look in the book of Hosea, for example, he has several children, and gives them prophetic names.
The prophet Isaiah does the same thing. He names his children with prophetically significant names also. My
favorite is Isaiah 8, where Isaiah names his son Maher-shalal-hash-baz. It means “quick pickings, easy prey.” With
a name like that, I imagine he was picked on in grade school. If we ever have a boy, that name is not on Wendy’s
and my top ten list. The point is that this was the way parents named their children in that time in the Middle
East, during Biblical times. They either gave them a relative’s name, or a prophetically significant name.
Wendy and I like to choose our children’s name based on meaning also. We are not making prophecies about our
children, but we do pray that they live up to their names. Our daughter is Taylor Grace. Her first name, Taylor,
means “to mend or to sew.” Her middle name, grace, means “unmerited favor, receiving something good that
we don’t deserve.” It is our prayer for her that she will be a mender of hearts as she reveals God’s grace to a torn
world. But all of this just leads us to what we see happen in Luke 1:57-66. We have a little family feud over the
name of a newborn son. Let’s begin in verse 57.
1. A Paternal Problem (Luke 1:57-66)
Luke 1:57. Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. Remember, we
learned back in the first part of chapter 1, that Elizabeth was barren, and she could not have a son. Zacharias, her
husband, was a priest, and he was chosen to go offer the incense in the temple. While there, an angel appeared
to him and told him that although he and Elizabeth were old, and she was barren, God was going to give them a
son. But Zacharias doubted God’s Word, and so he was struck dumb. Because of his doubt, he was not able to
talk. But Elizabeth did conceive, and now, nine months later, she gives birth to a son.
Luke 1:58. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced
with her. She had some friends and relatives with her. One of them was probably Mary. And when her son was
born, they all rejoiced with her. Traditionally, the friends and family would come over every night for seven days
to rejoice with the proud parents. I think that similarly, when God works on our behalf, it is appropriate that we
include others in giving praise to God for what He has done.
Luke 1:59. So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him
by the name of his father, Zacharias. It was the law that all Jewish boys be circumcised on the eighth day, and it
was also the ordinary custom that boys be named after their father or some other male relative. The naming of
the child was part of the circumcision ceremony. It was very similar to a child dedication ceremony, or a
christening, like we have today. Most often, the father would preside over the ceremony, but since Zacharias was
unable to speak, probably one of the local priests filled in for him. The ceremony consisted of prayers to God,
then the naming of the child, followed by the circumcision, and a symbolic cup of wine. This was probably followed
by food and fellowship. mSo somebody filled in for Zacharias, and it appears from verse 59 that whoever it was
just assumed that the new baby boy would be named Zacharias, or Zach, Jr. The priest probably came to the part
in the ceremony where the baby boy was named, and began to pray, “Our God and the God of our fathers, raise
up this child to his father and mother, and let his name be called in Israel, Zacharias, the son of Zacharias.”
Now Zacharias would have been a good name. It was his father’s name, and it means “the one whom Yahweh
remembers.” That’s a good name to have. But just at the priest was praying this prayer, Elizabeth jumps in, she
interrupts, and says, “No! Wait! He is not be named Zacharias.
Luke 1:60. His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.” And they all thought, “Well that’s strange.
Why John?” Look at verse 61. Luke 1:61. But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called
by this name.” They say, “You can’t name him John. Nobody in your family is named John. To name him John is
almost an insult to the rest of the family.” So maybe they argued about this for a while. Maybe Elizabeth said that
the reason they were to name him John is because that’s what the angel had told Zacharias. So they decide to
ask Zacharias what he thinks the name should be.

And you might ask, “Well, how come he hasn’t gotten involved already?” Luke 1:62 gives us a hint why he hasn’t
gotten involved. I think it was because he didn’t know what they were arguing about. Not only was Zacharias
dumb – unable to talk, but he was also deaf – unable to hear. Luke 1:62. So they made signs to his father—what
he would have him called. It says they made signs to Zacharias. If Zacharias could hear what was going on, why
would they make signs to him? I think it was because Zacharias couldn’t hear either. Now we might say, “But back
in verse 20, the angel only says that Zacharias will be mute – unable to speak. He doesn’t say anything about
being deaf.” Well, Greek scholars wiser than myself say that the word in verse 20 can be used to refer to both
hearing and speaking.
Luke 1:62 seems to say that Zacharias was both deaf and dumb. So imagine the scene. Zacharias was standing
there, just enjoying the ceremony. He can’t hear and he can’t speak, but he has attended these ceremonies
before, and he knows what is going on. He probably had a silly grin on his face as most fathers do at such
ceremonies. And just as he is thinking about how great it is to have a son, all of a sudden, right in the middle of
the ceremony, a big argument, a debate, breaks out. He has no idea what is going on. And it seems that it is
Elizabeth against everyone else. Finally, they turn to him, and with signs, let him know what the controversy is
about, and ask him what name will be given to his son. All of a sudden, he understands. “Ah yes. They wanted to
name him after me, but Elizabeth knew that the angel Gabriel had told me to name him John. That’s what the
controversy is about.” So he signals for a writing tablet.
Luke 1:63. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. They
didn’t have blackboards back then in Israel, and this probably wasn’t paper and ink. The writing tablet was a flat
piece of wax which could be written on, and then smoothed out again. This was probably how he and Elizabeth
had communicated with each other for nine months. He takes this wax tablet and writes, “His name is John.”
John, by the way , is a good name too. It means, “God has been gracious.” And God was gracious, to Zacharias
and Elizabeth, and to all who encountered John later in life.
Luke 1:64. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. Because he
was made dumb through doubting God, he now receives back his ability to speak when he believes God. And the
first thing he does is praise God. He has not been able to say a word for nine months, and now that he can speak,
the first words out of his mouth are praise to God. We will see what he spoke in verses 67-79, but first we see
the response of the rest of the family.
Luke 1:65-66. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all
the hill country of Judea. 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. You know, most of the time, almost all of the time, gossip is
bad. But there are a few instances where gossip is good. We could call it “good news gossip” or “Gospel
Gossip.”This good kind of gossip is when God does something amazing for us, or in our church, or for somebody
else, and we just want to spread it all over town. It is so amazing that we want to call everybody in the phonebook,
and say, “Wow! Did you hear what God did for Zacharias?”Or, “You’ll never believe what happened! We prayed
for Harry and Sally at the prayer meeting and Bible study on Wednesday night, and not one week later, our prayer
was answered! Isn’t that incredible?” I hope you can do that at work and in your neighborhood. Godly gossip.
Gospel gossip. Just letting your mouth speak from the overflow in your life of what exciting things God is doing.
And that was the end of the Family Feud.

2. A Papa’s Praise (Luke 1:67-79)


(This song is explained in more detail in the Sermon called: The Songs of Christmas: Zach’s Song)
But now we come to the Papa’s praise. I was going to get really creative with this second point and call it, A Proud
Papa’s praise to the Provident Provider for the Promised Priestly Personage and his Prophet Progeny who
prepares the path. But that’s pretty annoying. The point is thought is that Zacharias, with the first words out of
his mouth, praises God and prophecies about the future.
Luke 1:67. Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: Zacharias is going to
prophecy about, and praise God for, two things. First, for the Promised Messiah is about to come – we see that
in verses 68-75, and then secondly, in Luke 1:76-79, he has some praise for his own newborn son because he will
be the prophet who will prepare the way for the Messiah. So let’s look at both sections one at a time. First,
Zacharias’ praise to God for the promised Messiah in Luke 1:68-75.
1. Praise to God for the Promised Messiah (Luke 1:68-75)
Before we look at it though, recall that when Zacharias was in the temple, and Gabriel appeared to him, Gabriel
quoted a promise of God from the Old Testament. Do you remember where that promise was from? From the
last verse of the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament. Malachi 4:6. Well, as we look at what Zacharias
says here, it is obvious that he has been studying the Bible during this nine months of silence, and especially the
last chapter of Malachi. Much of what he says in his prophecy is similar to what we read in Malachi 4. And it’s not
just Malachi 4 he has in mind, but many of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Many of them are
condensed down into this short song from Zacharias.mLet’s begin in Luke 1:68.
Luke 1:68. “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,The first words out of
his mouth are praise to God for what He has done and will do. He is about to redeem Israel, ransom captive Israel.
Deliver them from their bondage.
Luke 1:69. And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, It appears that Zacharias
knows that Mary and Joseph were of royal decent. That the son Mary carries will be of the house of David. The
idea of the horn of salvation carries the idea of strength. The horn is the symbol of strength for animals. So the
coming Messiah will be strong to save. Strong to save from what? Well, the word “salvation” is used in the Bible
many, many different ways. Here, Zacharias seems to be using it in reference to deliverance from their enemies.
Deliverance from Rome and the Idumean king, King Herod, sitting on the throne in Jerusalem. So the horn of
salvation means that the Messiah will be strong to save them from their enemies. We see this in Luke 1:70-75.
Luke 1:70-75. As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, That we
should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, To perform the mercy promised to our
fathers And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that
we,Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness
before Him all the days of our life.
You see, Zacharias was only expecting a Messiah who would deliver them from their enemies. He was only
expecting a warlike Messiah. A conquering Messiah. A Messiah who would lead Israel back to prominence among
the nations. This was the most common understanding of the Messiah at that time. And it was not a wrong
understanding. Many, many prophecies of the Old Testament promise such a Messiah. And Jesus will be that
Messiah. But what most people failed to understand was that Jesus was going to come twice. The first time to
suffer and die. The first time to be mocked and ridiculed and rejected. The first time to serve.

This is why many of the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah when he came, because he was not the kind of Messiah
they expected. What they didn’t know, and what Jesus tried to teach them, was that He was going to come twice.
The first time to suffer and die for sin. Yes, to fight a battle against our enemy, but not the enemy they all thought
of. Jesus came to defeat the greatest enemy – sin and death. And then he will come again, a second time, as the
mighty warrior and judge, as the conqueror. So Zacharias’ prophecy here is true, but much of it did not come true
at Christ’s first coming. It will fully come true only at His second coming. Well, from here Zacharias moves on to
talk about his son, John, and the part he will play in the plan of God. He praises John for being the one to prepare
the way for the Messiah. Luke 1:76-79. It is here that we see some of the things the Messiah will do in his first
coming.
2. Praise for John that he will prepare the way for the Messiah (Luke 1:76-79)
Luke 1:76. 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, John will also fulfill prophecies out of Isaiah and elsewhere about going before the Messiah to
prepare the way for the Lord. Zacharias recognizes these prophecies here and emphasizes them. Verse 77-79
explain what the Messiah will do after John has prepared the way. There are three things. One, to give knowledge,
two to give light, and three, to give peace.
First, knowledge.
Luke 1:77-78. To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has
visited us; Here, the salvation is of the spiritual kind, rather than the salvation from physical enemies, because of
the mention of sins in Luke 1:77. The word Dayspring could also be translated “Sunrise.” The world was in a dark
night, black with sin, but Jesus was the sunrise, bringing light and peace. That’s what we see from Luke 1:79.
Luke 1:79. To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of
peace.” The world is looking for answers, but the light comes only from Jesus Christ. Similarly, the world is calling
for peace, but the only way peace ever happens is when people believe in Jesus for eternal life and start living
the way He wants us to. There is no roadmap for peace that will work apart from Jesus Christ. The final point we
want to look at today is found in Luke 1:80.
3. A Prophet’s Preparation (Luke 1:80)
Luke 1:80. So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation
to Israel.
Let me point out several important elements in this very brief concluding statement. (1) This statement
summarizes the entire period of John’s life prior to his public ministry. In less than 30 words, approximately 30
years of John’s life are summarized. And you know what? John was a very important figure, but this is all we know
of his first 30 years. (2) This statement speaks especially of his spiritual growth during his growing-up years. Luke
tells us that John “became strong in spirit.” This tells us that your spiritual development is more important to God
than what you look like on the outside, or where you were born, or what kind of clothes you wear. God looks at
the heart, and if you want to prepare yourself for ministry, start with your heart. (3) I think that it is important
that this preparation for ministry took place in the desert, in solitude. Does it ever seem like God is slow to use
you? Like you have been waiting and waiting for him to use you, but nothing ever happens? Well, be faithful
where he has placed you. Grow where you are planted. And when you are ready, when God’s timing comes, he
will transplant you from the desert you find yourself in to the area of ministry He has prepared just for you. It
may sometimes feel like you are wasting away in the desert, but that is God preparing you for the future. That’s
some of what we learn from verse 80. I want to close today by asking a question about the passage we’ve looked
at today. Especially the part about the family feud over the name of John. Why is that there? Luke is the only
Gospel writer to record it, and although it is interesting, it doesn’t really seem that significant. It doesn’t really
seem that important to the story of Jesus, or even to the story of John, that there was a disagreement about what
to name him.
The beginning of the answer is found when we remember and recognize that the Jews did see naming a child as
a prophecy of what they would become. The naming of the son after his father implied that this child would “walk
in the steps of his father,” that he would carry on the father’s name, and thus his work as well. Now if John had
been named “Zach, Jr.,” he would have been expected to grow up as a priest, just like his father. He would thus
have gone about with his father as he carried out his priestly duties, learning how to do things, just like his daddy
did them. To be named by any other name would have implied just the opposite. John would not follow in his
father’s steps. He would not learn to do what his father did. He would not be a priest. This, of course, was precisely
the case, and therefore the reason for the name John. It isn’t the meaning of the name “John” which is so
important, then, but the message implied by having any name other than Zacharias which is such an emotional
issue. Naming him John was to renounce the family, its work, and its continuation through the next generation.
And since this new name was commanded by God, God was indicating that John would not be carrying on his
father’s name, nor his work. And this is exactly what happened.
Think of the ways in which John became very different from his father.
Zacharias was a priest; John was a prophet.
John was a Nazarite; his father was not.
Zacharias lived among the people; John lived in the solitude of the people.
Zacharias was a part of the old religious system; John was not—he stood apart from it.
Zacharias, as evidenced by his psalm of praise, spoke as an Israelite, but John, being somewhat removed from
typical Israelite life and the religious system of the day, was able to see the errors which had developed in Judaism.
This is what we will see when John begins his public ministry in Luke 3. He comes on the scene to challenge the
religious leaders of the day, and call everyone to turn their backs on corrupt Judaism the way he had turned his
back on his own family. So too, as Christians, as disciples, as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to turn our back
on who we were before we were Christians. The world still wants to claim us as it’s own, to give us it’s own name.
To have us follow in it’s footsteps. But when we believe in Jesus for eternal life, we get a new name, a name that
the world would not give us, a name that tells everybody we are going to be different. What is that name? It is
Christian. If you have read Pilgrim’s Progress, you’ll remember that the pilgrim’s name throughout the book is
Christian. But do you know that this was not his original name? His original name is plainly stated in the story. In
the scene in which it first appears, the pilgrim is conversing with the porter who asks, “What is your name.”
Christian answers: “My name is now Christian, but my name at first was Graceless.”
The same could be said for all of us today who claim the glorious name of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our
name is now Christian, but it has not always been so. That title was given to us the moment we believed, the day
we took our God at His Word and accepted the gift of eternal life He offered to us. Prior to the name change, we
were Graceless, we were worldly. It doesn’t matter what is in your past, you have a new name, and a new future,
and a new identity in Jesus Christ. We are Christians. As John the Baptist lived up to his new name, let us live up
to ours as well.
Luke 1:67-79 – The Songs of Christmas: Zacharias’ Song
Luke 1 Zacharias BenedictusA grandmother was playing Christmas carols on the piano for her 4-year-old great-
granddaughter, Natalie. When she played “Away in a Manger,” the grandmother started to sing as she played.
After just a few words, Natalie tugged on her grandmother’s sleeve and said, “Just let the piano sing it, Grandma.”
Do you ever feel that way when you sing? That nobody wants to hear your voice? Well, when you sing, you aren’t
singing for others. You’re singing for God. And God always wants to hear you sing. Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 is
one of the verses in this grand musical introduction to Luke’s Gospel. Another verse in this musical masterpiece
is the song of Zacharias. It is found in Luke 1:67-79. It is the second verse.
One lady tells of the time she was directing the children’s church musical Christmas play. She asked one of her
daughters and another little boy if they would be willing to play two verses of “Silent Night” on their flutes. The
boy answered and said, “But Mrs. Anderson, I only know the first verse.” This is the way it is with the song of
Zacharias. It’s the second verse of this song, and it picks up where Mary left off, but really, it’s more of the same.
It’s the same song, second verse, with the same theme, similar ideas, and related words. Both verses focus on
the greatest theme ever found. Both focus on Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. Before we look at Zach’s
song, let me ask you a question. If you had not been able to talk for a year, what would you say when you finally
could speak? “The Benedictus was, no doubt, formed in the heart of Zacharias during the long months of enforced
muteness, when he was dumb and not able to speak. After nine months of silence it came streaming out like the
molten metal when issue is given to it.” “One can’t help thinking that the mind and heart of Zacharais during all
those nine months had been filling with this song. And now it burst forth at once – as a flower suddenly bursts
out where there was but a [green] bud yesterday.” [4] Zacharias, with the first words out of his mouth after nine
months of silence, praises God and prophecies about the future.
Luke 1:67. Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: Zacharias is going to
prophecy about, and praise God for two things. First, for the salvation that is to come through the Messiah (Luke
1:68-75), and second, he has some praise for his own newborn son because he will be the prophet who will
prepare the way for the Messiah (Luke 1:76-79). So, let’s look at both sections one at a time. First, Zacharias
praises God for salvation.
1. Praise to God for Salvation (Luke 1:68-75) These verses are a treatise on salvation. They tell us of the greatest
gift God has ever sent to earth – the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Zacharias probably spoke these verses
thinking primarily of God’s promises to the nation of Israel to deliver her from her enemies and restore her to her
rightful place among the nations. So when he speaks of salvation in these verses, he means temporal, physical
salvation from enemies like the Roman government. We’ll see this when we look at Luke 1:69. So although these
verses do not directly apply to us, we can draw principles from them and apply the principles. The main principle
is that Jesus Christ came to save us from our enemies. Our greatest enemies are sin and Satan, death and hell.
Jesus Christ came to deliver and save us from these enemies. So I want us to look at these verses from that
perspective. It is in Luke 1:68 where we learn that God is the author of our salvation.
A. The Author of Salvation (Luke 1:68)
Luke 1:68. Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, We often underestimate
the magnificence of the plan of salvation that originated in the mind of God. The plan of salvation which the Bible
teaches is completely unlike any other plan of salvation we find among the man made world religions. And only
a God like ours could have thought it up, and brought it to pass.

Dr. Talmage writes that salvation is “the masterpiece of eternity! There were so many difficulties to be overcome!
There were such infinite consequences to be considered! There were such gulfs to bridge, and such heights to
scale, and such immensities to compass! If God had been less than omnipotent, He would not have been strong
enough; of less than omniscient, I do not think He would have been wise enough; or less loving, would have been
sympathetic enough. There might have been a God strong enough to create a universe, and yet too weak to do
this. To create the worlds, only a word was necessary; to do this work required more than a word. It required
more than ordinary effort of a God. It required the dying anguish of an Only Son.” The first words out of his mouth
are praise to God for what He has done and will do. He is about to redeem Israel, ransom captive Israel. Deliver
them from their bondage. This is the purpose of salvation.
B1. The Purpose (Luke 1:69)
Luke 1:69. And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, It appears that Zacharias
knows that Mary and Joseph were of royal decent. That the son Mary carries will be of the house of David. The
horn in Scripture signifies glory and dignity, strength and power.[6] An elk or a white tail buck is considered
majestic and mighty by the size and shape of its antlers. The Messiah is likened to just such a horn. He is strong
and majestic. He is mighty. And since He is the horn of salvation, He is strong to save. Strong to save from what?
Well, the word “salvation” is used in the Bible many, many different ways. Here, Zacharias seems to be using it in
reference to deliverance from their enemies. Deliverance from Rome and the Idumean King Herod, sitting on the
throne in Jerusalem. So the horn of salvation means that the Messiah will be strong to save them from their
enemies. Zacharias got this truth about salvation from the Word of God. This is what he says in Luke 1:70.
C1. The Record (Luke 1:70)
Luke 1:70. As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, About
Christmas time, a family was expecting their oldest son to come home from college. He was arriving on the
midnight plane. All the younger children were excited, and wanted to stay up until his arrival. They begged their
father to let them stay up. But he replied, “No, it will be too long for you to wait; you must go to rest; you will see
John in the morning.” This is how the ancient prophets spoke about the Messiah – their eldest brother Jesus.
They longed to see him come, but their father in heaven caused them to enter the cold bed of the grave before
His arrival. David prayed, “Father, let me see the Horn of Salvation of which I sang so well.” Job, in the midst of
his pain and suffering, begged, “Father, let me see my living Redeemer. Oh, that there might be someone to
intercede for me before God.” But to all of these, the Father says, “No, my child, you must rest.”
We read in Hebrews 11 that “they were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.
They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained
a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise” (Heb. 11:37-38). I am so thankful that I live after the
time of Christ rather than before. We have received the promise. We have seen the fullness of God’s grace, mercy
and love, poured out upon us in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament is just a bunch of stories and hard to understand
writings. It is the cries of those who came before us to see what we have seen, to hear what we have heard, to
know what we have known. The Old Testament is an account of people longing to see Jesus. Do you realize how
blessed we are to be living after the time of Christ? Zacharias does. Having referred to the Word of God, he now
goes back to focus again on the purpose of salvation – to save us from our enemies.
B2. The Purpose (Luke 1:71)
Luke 1:71. That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, Who is it that hates
us most? Satan. He hates us because we belong to God, and Satan hates everything that belongs to God. The
world hates us also. Jesus said that the world will hate us because it hated Him first. Our flesh also hates us. We
are somewhat schizophrenic. We have a new nature which strives to be like Christ, and we have an old, dead
nature, called our flesh, which seeks to drag us back into our old way of living. The old nature hates the new way
of life and hates our new identity. It too is an enemy. Jesus came to deliver us from the hand, or rule, of all these
enemies. He came to deliver us from Satan, the world, and our flesh. He came to deliver us from sin. Again,
Zacharias gleaned these truths from Scripture which he alludes to again in Luke 1:72-73.
C2. The Record (Luke 1:72-73)
Luke 1:72-73. To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which
He swore to our father Abraham: This salvation from our enemies was a promise, a covenant, an oath to the
people of the Old Testament, but by the mercy of God, the fulfillment of these promises has been poured out
upon those who follow Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that we are Abraham’s spiritual seed (Rom. 9:7). So again, the
Bible tells us about this salvation. Now, in Luke 1:74-75, Zacharias repeats himself again, and focuses one more
time on the purpose of salvation.
B3. The Purpose (Luke 1:74-75)
Luke 1:74a. To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, This is just like a musical piece.
There’s repetition. There are refrains and choruses. Parts and counterparts. Singing and echoes. He said in verse
69 that the purpose of the Messiah’s coming was to save us from our enemies. Then he tells us in verse 70 that
he got this truth from the Bible – that it was a promise made to the forefathers, but only now fulfilled. Then in
verse 71, he said once again that the purpose of these promises was to deliver God’s people from their enemies.
Zacharias repeats himself in Luke 1:72-73, stating that he learned these truths from the Bible, and finally, once
again, in Luke 1:74, the purpose of this salvation is to deliver us from our enemies. Do you get the idea that
Zacharias is trying to make a point? What the Word promised has now been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Salvation
from our enemies has come. This is what Zacharias says over and over. Why? He finally tells us in the last part of
Luke 1:74 and on into Luke 1:75.
Luke 1:74b-75. That we…Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of
our life. Now that we have been saved from our enemies, we are to serve Him, all the days of our lives. And it
says that we can do this without fear. People in the Old Testament lived in constant fear of God. There is still a
fear of the Lord we live under today, but there is also an intimacy and friendship we can have with God through
Jesus Christ that was never before available to God’s people. We can call Him Father. Jesus can be our friend. We
are filled with the Holy Spirit. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and acceptance. Romans 8:15 says
that He has not given us a spirit that makes us a slave again to fear, but he has given us a spirit of sonship, and by
Him, we cry, Abba, Father. We don’t serve Him out of fear any more, but out of joy, love and gratitude. Though
we were all slaves to Satan, we have been set free through Jesus Christ. As His freedmen, we owe God a willing,
cheerful and delightful service, without fear, and a constant, persevering service all the days of our lives. Well,
from here Zacharias moves on to talk about his son, John, and the part he will play in the plan of God. He praises
John for being the one to prepare the way for the Messiah.
2. Praise to God for his son, John (Luke 1:76-79) Luke 1:76. 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, John will also fulfill prophecies out of
Isaiah and elsewhere about going before the Messiah to prepare the way for the Lord. Zacharias recognizes these
prophecies here and emphasizes them – especially this aspect about John preparing the way for the Messiah. It’s
an important task to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. But did you know that you can do it too? Did
you realize that you too can prepare the way for the Messiah? You can prepare the way for others to meet the
Messiah. Although He has already come, He is coming again, and He has called us to prepare the way for His
second coming. How? First, by preparing yourself. A lot of times, things in our lives are great stumbling blocks to
people who would come to Christ. But if we repent of these things, and, as Zacharias says in Luke 1:75, serve God
in holiness and righteousness, it will go a long way in preparing the way for others to meet the Messiah. Some
non-Christians have noted that the worst parts about Christianity are the Christians. They say they would become
a Christian if it weren’t for all the Christians. Mahatma Ghandi thought this, as did Mark Twain. May they not say
such things about you and me. Let us live for Christ, and so prepare the way for Him. You can also prepare the
way for the Messiah to return to earth by supporting missions through giving and praying. Jesus will not return
to earth until every person on earth has heard the good news of eternal life. This will not be completed until the
end of the tribulation, but we can be helping in the progress right now by supporting and praying for missionaries
who are working among the unreached people groups.
Thirdly, we can also prepare for Christ’s coming by witnessing to friends and neighbors. Right now we are living
in what the Bible calls “The Time of the Gentiles.” It is the time when God has temporarily set aside Israel as His
chosen vessel to reach the world for Jesus Christ, and is now using the church. The Bible tells us that God has a
certain number of Gentiles that he wants to see saved. When that number is reached, when the full number of
gentiles has come in (Rom. 11:25)[8], then the rapture of the church will happen and we will forever more be
with the Lord. Maybe that person you know you should share the Gospel with, but haven’t, is the one God is
waiting for. Do you want to prepare the way for the Lord? Share Him with your friends and neighbors. Support
missions work being done around the world, serve God in holiness and righteousness. These things will help
prepare the way for His coming.
Luke 1:77-79 explain what the Messiah will do after John has prepared the way. I think it’s interesting that
Zacharias doesn’t spend much time praising his son, John. Praising his son leads him to praise the Savior. There
are three things he praises Jesus for. One, to give knowledge, two to give light, and three, to give peace.
A. Knowledge (Luke 1:77-78)
Luke 1:77-79. To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender
mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; The tender mercy of God is one of the
most intimate truths in Scripture. The words bring to mind a loving mother tenderly caring for her children. They
picture a father, gently teaching a toddler to walk. Some people think of God only as this demanding, angry,
frowning judge who sits on his throne casting about lightning bolts and natural disasters. This is not the picture
of Luke 1:78. God, though He is the God of thundershowers, is also the God of dewdrops. Though He did create
the unbending oak tree, he also created the tiny blade of grass. He is the God who heals. He is the God who
mends. We have bruised and feeble souls, and He washes and cleanses our wounds with the most gentle of
hands. God is not harsh toward you, but is full of tender mercy. The word Dayspring could also be translated
“Sunrise” but the dayspring is the part of the sunrise that is before the sun actually rises. Those of you who are
up before sunrise, know that dawn begins with a glow above the eastern mountains. As the sunrise progresses,
the glow gets brighter and brighter until right before the sun peaks over the eastern mountains, rays of light burst
upward into the sky. This is the dayspring. It is the few minutes or even seconds of the dawn right before the sun
appears.
This is what Zacharias is talking about. It’s been a long night. The day is almost here. The sun has almost risen.
But He has not come yet. But it is the dayspring. In a few moments, the sun will come, and the day will begin. This
is the second thing the Messiah brings. The world was in a dark night, black with sin, but Jesus was the sunrise,
bringing light.
B. Light (Luke 1:79a)
Luke 1:79a. To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, Have you ever been lost in the
dark? It’s a terrifying experience, especially if you are in unfamiliar territory. For all you know, one step in any
direction might lead you off cliff. If you are trying to get somewhere, you have no idea if the direction you are
headed is the right direction or not. Oftentimes, the best thing to do in such situations, is just sit down and wait
for daylight. This is what Zacharias says the world has done. They have been lost in the darkness, and so rather
than move about trying to find their way home when they might actually be going the wrong direction, they just
sit there, in the darkness, waiting for either death or light. Those are your only two options when you’re lost. To
die, or receive light.
The world doesn’t know where to turn spiritually. Though on the outside, they are going here, and going there,
and making money, and having a good time eating and drinking, inside, they are lost in the dark, and just sitting
there. They don’t know which way to turn. They don’t know where they should go. They don’t know where truth
is, and how to find God. They may try various things. Buddhism, Hinduism and Indian Spiritism are popular things
people try out today. I guess among Hollywood actors, it’s scientism that is popular. You know what they are
doing? They’re walking in the dark. It’s just a matter of time before they fall into a ditch or off a cliff. Most of the
world, however, just sits there, in the darkness, waiting either for death or light. Zacharias says that light comes
with Jesus Christ, the Dayspring from on high. He is the dawn in the darkness, brining light to those who are dying.
Believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life is the only way this light shines into our lives. All other attempts to receive
the light are but deeds of darkness. We only receive the light when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. But even
once this is done, and the light shines into our lives, we still go through times and periods of darkness. It’s just
like the seasons. We are currently in the darkest part of the year. If you have a work schedule like mine, you get
up while it is still dark, get to work before the sun comes up, and leave work after the sun goes down. Unless I
make a point to go outside during the daytime, I could go for days without seeing the sun. This has a terrible
effect on my attitude and demeanor. I get depressed and easily tired. I would never survive in a place like Alaska
where the sun doesn’t really come up for several months at a time.
This is sometimes the way it is in our Christian lives. Even after we have been delivered from the darkness of sin,
that old body of death still clings on. It’s amazing how strong a dead body can be. Do you ever feel yourself being
dragged back into the old patterns of sin that you hate so much, but seem to have such a strong pull on you? Do
you ever feel that though you have seen the dawning of a great light, darkness still clings to your soul? You feel
deadness in prayer, deadness in reading the Word, deadness in hearing the truth, deadness in desires after the
Lord, deadness to everything holy, spiritual, heavenly and divine? Do you ever feel a numbness, a fleshliness, a
worldliness that seems to freeze up every Godly desire of your soul? I do. I felt that way this week. Which is why
I was so thankful and joyful to read Zacharias’ final words at the end of Luke 1:79. Jesus brings knowledge, light,
and finally, peace.
C. Peace (Luke 1:79b)
Luke 1:79b. To guide our feet into the way of peace. That’s what we all want. Peace. We don’t want the way of
worry and war. We don’t want the way of anxiety and fear. We don’t want the way of rebellion and restlessness.
We want the way of peace. Peace. The heart that is at peace is full of joy and contentment. It is at peace with
God and peace with one another. It does not worry or fret. It is not depressed or gloomy. The life of peace is the
life of light and joy. Doesn’t that sound nice? But how do we get it? How do we arrive at this way of peace? How
do we find it? Guess what? We don’t find it. Jesus leads us to it. This is what these last words tell us. Jesus has
come to guide our feet into the way of peace. You don’t find peace on your own. You don’t get to peace on your
own. You don’t cheer yourself up with movies and music, eating and entertainment, or even with relatives and
recreation. How do you get to peace? You follow Jesus. You let him guide you. He knows the way. He is not going
to force peace upon you. He will not make you be at peace. But if you want to follow him there, He will gladly
lead. How do you let him lead? We’ll be talking about this a lot more next Sunday, but let me just tell you now.
You let Jesus lead by giving a portion of every single day to read the Bible and pray. Before you read the Word,
pray, saying, “Jesus, show me something today from your Word. Give me a promise. Give me a truth. Give me an
encouraging Word. Give me a correction if need be. I just want to hear from you today. I want to be guided into
the way of peace.” And then read the Scriptures, trying to understand what they say, and looking for a verse
which God has especially for you. When you find it, pray it. Pray that verse, pray that passage, pray that promise.
Pray it for yourself. Pray it for your family. Pray it for this church. Jesus came to this earth to fulfill the promises
of God, to bring salvation, to reveal the tender mercy of God, and break forth as light into the darkness and guide
our way into the way of peace. You’ll miss it all, if you neglect the Word.
.Zacharias could have never said another word in his life except for this song, and it would have been some of the
best words every spoken. They are full of tender truths and precious promises about Jesus Christ. Though he had
been mute for nine months, he probably spent that time thinking of what he would say if he could ever speak
again. And here he said it. It’s all to the praise and honor and glory of Jesus Christ.
Gospel of Luke sermon series: December 31
Luke 2:1-20 – From Troubles to Trumpets
1. The Tyrant (Luke 2:1-3)
2. The Troubles (Luke 2:4-7)
3. The Trumpets (Luke 2:8-20)
Trials and Tribulations are a part of all of our lives. The Old Testament prophets were familiar with trials and
tribulation, and how God used these things in life to accomplish his purposes. One of my favorite passages in the
prophets about this idea is a picture given in Isaiah, chapter 28. There we read, “…caraway is beaten with a rod,
and cummin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread…” (Isa. 28:27b-28a, NIV).
Do you ever feel like the caraway, the cummin, and the grain in this verse? Do you ever feel like life is beating you
with a stick? Like you are being ground to pieces? Do you ever feel like all the world is against you? Like nothing
goes your way? Like even God has turned away from you? You have financial problems, and health problems,
marital problems, family problems, job problems, car problems, and on and on they go. Maybe today, you don’t
have many problems. Well, let me tell you right now. If you have not had many in your past, and if you are a
Christian, you will have problems. Jesus said in John 16, “In this world, you will have tribulation.” As we continue
our study in the Gospel of Luke, we are going to see that even Mary and Joseph had their fair share of trials and
tribulations. But we are also going to see how they handled it, and what God did about it. You will see what God
will do for you also, as you handle the trials and troubles in your life in a similar way as Joseph and Mary.
In Luke 1, we have already seen the birth of John the Baptist and some of the events leading up to the birth of
Jesus Christ. And by the way, it was pointed out to me this week that for four weeks now, I have been calling the
father of John the Baptist, Zacharias, when in the NIV, which is what many of you use, his name is Zachariah. All I
can say is, “That’s what you get for using the NIV.” It’s the Nearly Inspired Version.
Anyway, in the New King James, and the regular King James, and even in the NAS, John the Baptist’s father is
translated as Zacharias. In the NIV, he is given the name Zachariah. It’s not an error in the Bible, it’s just a choice
the NIV translators made. In Luke 2 we find the Tyrant. Very often, our problems in life are associated with other
people. They disagree with us or we with them. We have an argument. They disobey. They do things we don’t
like. They say something that offends us. Sometimes, such problems are our fault more than theirs, but that’s a
subject for a different sermon. In verses 1-3 we see a selfish and egotistical tyrant who caused a lot of problems
for Mary and Joseph. Look at what this tyrant does in verses 1-3.
1. The Tyrant (Luke 2:1-3)
Luke 2:1-3. And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world
should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered,
everyone to his own city. Caesar Augustus has a political platform you probably won’t hear this coming year in
our presidential campaign. He announced to the Roman Empire, “Read my Lips: Lots of new taxes!” It says there
in verse 1 and verse 3 that he made a decree for everyone to go to his home town to be registered. In effect, he’s
saying, “I need to know how many people are in the empire so I can know how much to tax you.” Of course, the
difference between Caesar Augustus and modern presidents is that Caesar was not elected by the people, nor
did he have term limits. He was kind of like a king or an emperor. He could do whatever he wanted. And here, he
wanted to tax people. And in order to do that, he needed them to register, to take part in a census.
Let me tell you a little bit about Caesar Augustus. His real name was Gaius Octavius. He was the adopted son of
Julius Caesar, and so when Julius Caesar died, Octavius became emperor, and with it, the title of his position –
Caesar. o he should have been known as Octavius Caesar. However, Octavius had quite an ego. He was very proud
and arrogant. He wanted to be greater than any other Caesar before him, and so, with the approval of the Roman
Senate, he dropped his name Octavius, and added the title Augustus. Augustus means “Majesty.” It’s a name of
divinity. It carries the idea of being “of the gods.” Caesar Augustus means Caesar God. In essence, he was
proclaiming himself to be god. That is part of the reason he taxed the people so heavily. He figured a god should
live in luxury and ease, and that the people, his subjects, should pay for his luxuries. And so he taxed them. He
didn’t care how his heavy taxes placed financial burdens on the people, and he didn’t care that his method of
registration caused great disruption in the lives of his subjects. He didn’t care that by forcing people to return to
their hometown to be registered, he was forcing people to go on long journey’s, and possibly uproot their families,
and lose their jobs. He didn’t care if people were sick; he didn’t care if people were old. He just didn’t care. It
didn’t matter to him if the subjects of his empire were greatly inconvenienced by his decree, he just wanted his
money. He did whatever he wanted, and if people didn’t like it, that’s too bad. If they tried to rebel, he had his
vast army to deal with uprisings. But Mary and Joseph submitted, even though it made their lives miserable, even
though they ran into many troubles. Look in verses 4-7 at the troubles they experienced.
2. The Troubles (Luke 2:4-7)
Luke 2:4-7. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which
is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed
wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because
there was no room for them in the inn. They experience so many troubles here, I’m not sure I can list them all.
First of all, verse 4 says they went out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called
Bethlehem. They have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which is a trip of about 80 miles. Today, with cars,
we can make that trip in about an hour and a half. But without cars, that’s quite a distance for anyone to travel.
This 80-mile journey took them several days. On top of it all, Mary is nine months pregnant. This is not the ideal
time to go on an 80-mile journey. If that’s not enough trouble, the second trouble we learn here is that Joseph
was of the house and lineage of David. This doesn’t seem like a trouble at first. We all want to be the descendants
of a famous person. Joseph was the descendant of one of the most famous Israelites of all time – King David. And
that’s a good thing.
But the trouble comes in when we realize that a direct descendant from the royal line of David is being pushed
around by an egotistical, pagan, selfish Caesar thousands of miles away. If we were Joseph, we probably would
have demanded our rights. We probably would have written an editorial. We would have called our congressman.
We would have passed around a petition for people to sign. We would have complained on the local news. We
would have raised an outcry about how unfair this was. We would have garnered support for our cause. We
would have picketed.
We would have passed around a picture of our wife who is nine months pregnant and demanded how Caesar
could make a woman in her condition travel 80 miles just to be taxed. We would have raised on outcry against
the tax itself, and how it was unfair and unjust and way more than Caesar needed, and how the Roman
government was wasting what money it did have. Maybe we would have said that because we were of the royal
line of David, such a law shouldn’t apply to us.
But not Joseph. He took it all in stride. Literally. He put a sign on his carpentry shop which said, “Went to be taxed
– will be back soon,” packed his suitcases, hopefully got a donkey for Mary who was going to deliver her child any
day, and they left for Bethlehem. That’s it. No complaining and no campaigning. Just obedience.
And of course, things only get worse when they finally arrive in Bethlehem. The journey went much slower than
normal, because of how far along Mary was. And so they arrived in Bethlehem long after everybody else. Which
means there was no place for them to stay. All the inns were full. The end of Luke 2:7 says, there was no room
for them in the inn.
It cannot get much worse than this for Joseph. He has to leave his home, he has to close his shop, he has to go
on a 80 mile journey, he feels bad he has to take his very pregnant wife, and then, to top it all off, when they
arrive in Bethlehem, he realizes all the inns are full, and he forgot to make reservations. I imagine he’s feeling like
a pretty good husband at this point in the passage. Nothing is going the way he hoped it would. All his plans to
provide food and shelter and safety for his new wife and his soon-to-be-born child have been destroyed. This is
not a way to start a marriage or a family. The problems he is facing are beyond anything he knows how to deal
with. He’s at his wits end. He doesn’t know what to do. He feels ashamed and depressed. He sometimes feels
angry at Caesar Augustus for making him do this. Other times he feels angry at God for allowing this to happen.
Sometimes, he just wants to throw in the towel and quit.
But he doesn’t. He presses on. Though sometimes it doesn’t look like it, and though it doesn’t feel like it anymore,
he knows that God still loves him and is somehow going to work things out for good because He is still in control.
Besides, Mary came to the same conclusion, and if anyone had something to complain about it was her. How
many of you ladies, when you are nine months pregnant, want to go on a 80 mile journey which takes several
days, and then at the end of it, rather than a hot meal, a warm bath, a comfortable bed, and the evening news,
you only get a stack of hay out in a barn, which you share with a few cows and a horse? The stable, by the way,
was probably a cave rather than a wooden structure the way all of the nativity scenes portray it as. Ray Vander
Laan talks about this in video series, That the World May Know.
But then, to make matters worse, while Mary is trying to make this dirty cave feel a little bit more like home –
where would you begin? – she starts to feel contractions. And I know what Mary was thinking. “Oh no! Not now!
Not here!” Isn’t that right, ladies? No woman I know wants to give birth in a barn. I can imagine Mary just praying.
“God, can’t this wait for a few days until we find a cleaner place to stay? God, you gave me this child. Can’t you
also postpone the delivery for just a few more days?”
But God didn’t wait. He had His reasons and His purposes for having His Son born in a lonely and dirty stable. And
the baby Jesus was born there. It appears from the verses that she didn’t have any help. No doctors. No midwives.
Just Mary and the animals. It appears that Joseph wasn’t even there. Maybe he was out looking for a midwife, or
a better place to stay. There is a lot of loneliness in verse 7. It’s hard to say, but Mary probably cried. Remember,
she is no more than 17 years old, maybe as young as 14. This was not the way she wanted to have her first child.
And not the way she thought such a miraculous baby would be born. Joseph probably cried too when he came
back. It’s not what he wanted for his young wife, either. But he felt completely useless and helpless and unable
to do anything about it. Those are terrible emotions for a man to have.
But that is the way it happened. And according to Luke 2:7, Mary wrapped the new born babe in swaddling cloths,
and laid Him in a manger. Again, a manger is not the best crib. It didn’t have any safety features. No soft mattress
with baseball pattern sheets and football pillows. Just a feeding trough for the animals and hay to lay on. That
was it. Again, something I am sure distressed both Mary and Joseph. They probably sang Jesus to sleep that first
night with the song, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” But they couldn’t help but think, as they gazed down
upon Him, that somehow, everything was going to be alright. And if fact, although they didn’t know it, the
swaddling clothes they had wrapped him in were symbols of that very thing. Swaddling clothes are strips of linen
which are wrapped tightly around newborn babies. In fact, they would even straighten out the babies legs, and
wrap the strips of cloth very tightly around the legs so that they couldn’t bend back into the fetal position. They
thought that this would help the baby grow stronger, straighter legs.
But it is an interesting picture here, because it would be about 33 years later that Jesus would be wrapped in
strips of linen and placed in a cave once more. And in both instances, things changed drastically. In both instances,
at Jesus’ birth, and three days after his death, just when the night was darkest, just when those who loved Jesus
(his parents at his birth, and his disciples at his death) began to wonder if God had forgotten them…angels came
to announce a change.
An uncaring tyrant caused Joseph and Mary great troubles, but they endured them without complaining or
becoming bitter, and as a result, God acts on their behalf and everything changes. In verses 8-20 we see the
troubles turned into trumpets. Beginning with verse 8.

3. The Trumpets (Luke 2:8-20)

Luke 2:8. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock
by night.
This took place in late September (see study on Luke 2:1-3). It is also true that around Bethlehem is the only place
in the land of Israel where flocks could be kept, and especially where sheep for the temple services could be
tended. These shepherds were watching Passover lambs which would be sacrificed later that year. So it is
appropriate that they are about to go look at another Passover Lamb who will also be sacrificed later in His life.
Luke 2:9. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and
they were greatly afraid. Again, we see that fear comes upon people when they encounter angels. It is hardly ever
a sense of peace and wellbeing with tingles and goosebumps the way many people would have us believe today.
And again, as I mentioned last week, many scholars believe this angel was the angel Michael. At this point in the
story, it is only the one angel that has appeared to the shepherds.
Luke 2:10-12. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy
which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” The angel
tells the shepherds about the birth of Christ, and that He will be Savior, and how to find him.
Luke 2:13-14. 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, goodwill toward men!”
Isn’t it interesting though, that the Caesar Augustus, who wanted to be hailed as god, through his selfishness, set
into motion events in which, the true God would come to earth and be praised by angels? Furthermore, history
tells us that Caesar Augustus was praised for having inaugurated worldwide peace. [2] But we know it was not a
real or lasting peace. Even the Stoic Philosopher Epictetus said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on
land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief and envy. He cannot give peace of heart for which
man yearns more than even for outward peace.” But the angels proclaim Christ will bring peace. Peace does not
come through money and power of the Emperor, but through humility and service. And the all-important peace
with God comes only to those who believe in Jesus for eternal life. Only through Christ can you have true and
lasting peace. That is the message the angels proclaim. I also want to clarify the angel’s message for you. During
the Christmas season, we see this heavenly Christmas carol plastered all over Christmas cards and store front
reader boards.
But it does not mean what most people think it means. You see, the translation is a bit poor. A more literal
translation is in this way: Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth toward men of goodwill.” Or we could
say, “Toward men who are in God’s will.” I humorously criticized the NIV earlier, but it does an excellent job of
translating this verse. It reads, “…and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” You see, Jesus did not
come to bring peace to the entire earth and to all people. Oh, to be sure, it is offered to all people, we see that
in verse 10, but that only men (and women) of goodwill will receive it. You see, in Isaiah 48:22, God says that
there is no peace for the wicked. We live in a wicked, sinful world. And those who live in wickedness and sin will
never have peace. If, however, you are one of those who has come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior by believing
in Him alone for eternal life, then you can know this peace the angels proclaim. Romans 5:1 states, “Therefore,
being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace is available to you today, if you are a person of God’s will. What is God’s will? To believe in Jesus Christ for
eternal life. In John chapter 6, some people come to Jesus and ask him, “What must we do to do the works of
God? What is His will?” And Jesus said, “This is the will of my Father, that you believe on Him whom the Father
has sent” (6:28-29). That’s it. Believe in Jesus for eternal life. Do you want to have the peace the angels proclaim
here? You need to be a man or a woman of God’s will, you need to do God’s will, which is to believe in Jesus for
eternal life. But if you reject Him, you also reject peace. There can be no peace in this world without Him. Luke
2:15-16. So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one
another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known
to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
The angels disappeared, went back into heaven, and the shepherds say, “Let’s go!” So they did. It says they came
with haste. This was the first Christmas rush, but certainly different than the Christmas rush we are familiar with.
They were rushing to see Jesus. I wish we all were more like these shepherds. They heard the Word of God spoken
here by angels, and they immediately acted upon it. They didn’t wait around until it was morning. They didn’t ask
for better directions. Can you imagine them saying, “Uh, Michael. There’s a lot of stables in Bethlehem, you
wouldn’t by any chance have a street address, would you?” They received by faith the message God sent to them,
and then responded with immediate obedience. [5] I’m sure they knew where all the stables were, so they just
checked around until they found the one Mary, Joseph and Jesus were in.
We should also note that the angels didn’t appear to kings. They didn’t appear to the mayor of Bethlehem. They
didn’t appear to the religious leaders in Bethlehem. They appeared to shepherds. Just humble shepherds out in
the field. Shepherds were really outcasts in Israel.[6] Their work not only made them ceremonially unclean, but
their work also kept them away from the temple for weeks at a time so that they could not be purified. Mary’s
song pointed out back in Luke 1:51-53 that this would be a pattern in the life of Christ, and it has already begun
here (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-29). It seems that the poor and the people who are nobodies are often the ones whom God
gives special attention to.
Luke 2:17. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning
this Child.
The shepherds became the first Christian evangelists. The first witnesses to spread the good news of the Messiah.
When they saw Jesus Christ, they could not help but keep silent about Him. They told everyone they met. Again,
they are a lesson for us. Not only did they obey God’s Word immediately, but they also went beyond that and
told others about Jesus. Once you have seen Jesus, it is a privilege, it is an honor, it is a necessity to tell others
about Him. Once you have seen Jesus, you can’t keep from talking about Him even if you tried. The shepherds
were so excited about what they had seen and heard, they just had to tell everybody. Look at the result in Luke
2:18.
Luke 2:18. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
This is a key idea after all that we have seen today. Things did not go as planned for Mary and Joseph. They had
experienced more trouble than they should have. And rather than complain, rather than criticize, they quietly
accepted what God was doing. Joseph could have blown his own horn and demanded he get what he deserved
as a descendant of King David. But he didn’t. Mary could have gone around bragging that she was carrying the
promised Messiah and as a result, she could have demanded that she be given the best room in the inn – for free,
and the innkeeper should kick out whoever was there. But she didn’t. Mary and Joseph chose to humbly accept
the trials and troubles that God sent their way, and as result, God lifted them up. He raised them up. He sent
angles to blow the trumpet for them, and shepherds to pass the word for them about who they were, and what
kind of child they had been blessed with. Mary and Joseph chose not to blow their own horn. Instead, they let
God do it for them. When credit comes to you for the ministry and talents and abilities you have, let it be God
and others who bring it rather than from yourself. This is again the lesson we see in Luke 2:19-20.
Luke 2:19-20. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. Mary was not the
one to go around and tell people about how great she was, and how much God had blessed her. Instead, she just
kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. And God used the shepherds to tell the world about Mary
and her newborn babe.
Do you have gifts and abilities which God has given you? Of course you do. All of you do. Great and incredible
abilities and gifts which will do astounding things for God. But God does not want you to go around bragging
about what He has given you, and demanding that people honor you and look up to you the way you think they
should. Instead, like Mary and Joseph, quietly and humbly accept whatever position and privilege God has placed
you in, and as you prove yourself faithful with a little, He will give you more. Don’t blow your own horn. Let God
blow it for you in his perfect timing.
Paul writes in Philippians 2 that we should be like Christ, and I suppose we could say Mary and Joseph, for making
themselves of no reputation, acting like a servant to everybody, and humbling themselves to the greatest extent
possible. And as a result, God highly exalted them and raised them up. Jesus was lifted above every name, in
heaven and on earth, and before Him, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
You too, humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and HE will lift you up. Isn’t this a spectacular lesson? Joseph
and Mary’s trials and troubles were overwhelming. They could even point the finger, if they had wanted to, at
that selfish emperor, Caesar Augustus. But they didn’t. They didn’t become bitter, they became better. All of the
suffering, inconvenience, and discomfort caused by the decree of Caesar was actually the loving hand of God
working things out to accomplish His purposes in His own way.
You see, about 700 years before these events happened, God declared through the prophet Micah that the
Messiah would come from Bethlehem. And so while Caesar thought he was the one in control, it was really God
who was in control. That arrogant emperor was only a puppet, a tool, in the hand of God to accomplish his
purposes. And one of God’s purposes was to give more praise and honor than Mary and Joseph could have ever
imagined, or could have ever raised for themselves. All of us need to learn from Mary and Joseph that our
sufferings, and our troubles and our trials in life are tools in the hand of God to mold us and shape us and make
us into something beyond our imagination. When trials and troubles come into your life, you may feel like you
are getting beaten with rods and ground into powder – remember the grain in Isaiah 28? – but remember, grain
must be ground to make bread. God is making you into something great. In whatever trials you are facing, ask
God these kinds of questions: Say, “Father, what are you trying to teach me in this situation? How can this trial
make me more like Jesus Christ? What chaff in my life are you trying to grind out of me? How can this troubling
time make me better instead of bitter?”
God wants to change your troubles into trumpets if you will only let him perform His work in you.
Gospel of Luke sermon series: January 7, 2018 ( Ptr. Ryan )
Luke 2:21-24, 39-40 – Parental Preparation for Ministry
Luke 2 Joseph and Mary Jesus Temple Mary and Joseph Obeyed God’s Word
a. In Circumcising Jesus (2:21a)
b. In Naming Jesus (Luke 2:21b)
c. In Purifying Mary (Luke 2:22a, 24)
d. In Presenting Jesus (Luke 2:22b-23)
e. In Parenting Jesus (Luke 2:39-40)
Almost all of the great leaders of the Bible have at least one thing in common. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua,
some of the Judges, several of the Kings, especially King David, Esther, all of the prophets, John the Baptist, Peter,
James, John, Paul – all of these men and women were by no means perfect people, but they all had at least one
thing in common which allowed God to use them greatly. Almost all of the people used greatly by God throughout
church history have at least one thing in common. John Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, Martin Luther, Zwingli,
Tyndale, Wycliffe, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, Chuck Smith—all had one thing in common. Almost all of the people
who do amazing things for God have at least one thing in common. What was this one thing? They were all hearers
and doers of the Word of God.
Do you dream of God using you? Of God speaking through you? Do you dream of doing great things for God? The
place to start, the thing to focus on, is to become a life long student of the Word of God, and developing a habit
of obedience to it. Beginning today, and then for a few more weeks, we are going to see five people in Luke 2
who were knowledgeable about and obedient to the Word of God. As a result of their knowledge and obedience,
God used them greatly. He spoke to a few of them regularly. They became heroes of the faith. Today we will look
at two. So far in the book of Luke, we have seen the events leading up to the birth of John the Baptist and the
Birth of Jesus. Last Sunday, we looked at the birth of Jesus itself and the difficulties Mary and Joseph had to
endure at that time, but how God turned things around for good. Today we will learn more about this wonderful
couple, and how they lived in obedience to the Word of God, and so were influential in raising the Son of God.
We will see that Mary and Joseph obeyed the law so that Jesus could fulfill the law. We will see that Mary and
Joseph’s careful obedience to the law were key factors in preparing Jesus for his earthly ministry.
I. Mary and Joseph Obey God’s Word (Luke 2:21-24)
Let’s begin right away in Luke 2:21.
Luke 2:21. And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the
name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. In this verse, we see two examples of how Mary
and Joseph obeyed God’s Word. First of all, they circumcised Jesus eight days after his birth.
a. In Circumcising Jesus (Luke 2:21a)
It says in Leviticus 12:3 that all Jewish males are to be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth.This was a
very important ritual in a Jewish family, because the circumcision of the males was a sign that they were a people
set apart unto God. It was the sign and seal of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 17). Every good Jewish family would
have this done to their son, but it was especially important for Mary and Joseph to make sure Jesus went through
the ceremony, because He was definitely set apart for God’s service. We know from the book of Hebrews that
Jesus has experienced life in every way just as we do, yet without sin. But we see here that some of His steps of
obedience were dependent upon his parents, Mary and Joseph. What would have happened, I wonder, if Mary
and Joseph had not had Jesus circumcised? Since they were under the law, that would have been disobedience
for Mary, Joseph AND Jesus. So you see parents, it is very important that you take an active role in making sure
that your children learn the Bible and obey it, because you are held responsible to some degree for how your
children behave, and even much more so when they are infants and cannot make such decisions for themselves.
Mary and Joseph knew that they were instrumental in training and raising Jesus according to God’s Word, just as
all parents are, and so they made sure that Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day.
Jesus obeyed later in life, partly because Mary and Joseph taught him to obey. And they obeyed all of God’s Word.
Not only God’s Word as recorded in the Old Testament, but also God’s Word which had come to them through
the angel Gabriel. In the second half of verse 21, we see that they are obedient in naming Jesus.
b. In Naming Jesus (Luke 2:21b)
Remember in Luke 1, Mary was visited by Gabriel, and he told her to name her son Jesus (1:36)? Mary has
remembered that, and has certainly told Joseph of it also, and so at the circumcision ceremony, they name Him
Jesus. We have also seen that Jesus was probably born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, which is a
feast that lasted for eight days. The last day of the feast was the greatest day of the feast, and so it was on this
greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles which Jesus was named. There is so much about the Feast of Tabernacles
which is significant, but for now, let me tell you what would happen on the eighth day of the feast. The eighth
day of the feast was a very special day. The first and last days of the feast were sacred, and were treated like
Sabbath days – they could do no regular work on those days (Lev 23:33-36). And the first seven days had a
celebration atmosphere about them. There would be singing and dancing and celebrating as millions of people
from all over Israel gathered in Jerusalem to camp out in temporary shelters on the streets of Jerusalem. It was
kind of like a religious Woodstock, I suppose, except there weren’t bands and musicians for people to go and
listen to, instead they had a great preach-a-thon.
You can read about one that they celebrated in Nehemiah 8. There, for an entire week, they would meet in the
morning, somebody would read a passage from the Scripture, and then one of the priests would explain it, verse
by verse, line by line. And day by day, as these sermons were given, the Israelite people responded to them, and
obeyed, and repented of sins, and made changes in their life to live more for God. And they would listen to
sermons, and then go and eat and celebrate and sing and rejoice, and then come back and hear another sermon.
And they did this for the entire Feast of Tabernacles. But on the last day of the feast, the eighth day, the greatest
day, it was a solemn day, a day of reflection on what they learned that week. A day to remember all that God had
done for them in times past and all God had promised to do for them in the future. And on this day, called Hoshana
Rabba, during the morning service, the priests would make seven circuits around the altar with palm branches
and they took the branches and beat them on the floor of the synagogue or on the furniture while the
worshippers would chant in unison, “the voice announcing the coming of the Messiah is heard, the voice
announcing the coming of the Messiah is heard, the voice announcing the coming of the Messiah is heard.” And
just at that time, we can imagine Mary and Joseph and their friends and family gathering together with an eight-
day-old baby Jesus in their arms for the circumcision and naming ceremony. And as the worshippers chant, “The
voice of the coming of the Messiah is heard” maybe they could hear Jesus cry out in pain from being circumcised,
and Joseph, lifting up Jesus in his arms and praying, “Our God and the God of our fathers, raise up this child to his
father and mother, and let his name in Israel be called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt
1:21).
Jesus’ name, in Hebrew, Yeshua, or Joshua, means “The Lord saves.” It was quite a popular name in that time.
But Mary and Joseph’s naming ceremony would be different from all the others, because in Matthew 1:21,
Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would save his people from their sins. And they were obedient to this. On the eighth
day, Mary and Joseph obeyed the Word of the Lord and named Him Jesus. And because they obeyed God’s Word,
the voice announcing the coming of the Messiah, was truly heard. When God’s people obey God’s Word, the
coming of the Messiah is announced. When you obey God’s Word, a natural result will be that we will also
announce Jesus Christ as the Messiah, as the Savior of the world. When people see us, and the way we live
according to the Word of God, hopefully, they will also see Christ and his light shining through us. That is what
Mary and Joseph accomplished as they lived in obedience to God’s Word. But they are not done. In 2:22 we see
another way they were obedient to God’s Word. They obeyed God’s Word in purifying Mary.
c. In Purifying Mary (Luke 2:22a, 24)
Luke 2:22. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed,
The NIV and NAS have “their purification.” This means the baby’s and hers. You see, the command in Leviticus 12
is that a woman who bears a son must wait 40 days before she is considered pure and 80 days after bearing a
daughter. At the end of her 40 days of purification, Leviticus 12 instructed Mary to bring a sacrifice to the temple
of one lamb, and one turtledove or one pigeon. For families that were extremely poor, they could offer two
turtledoves or two pigeons instead.
Now skip down to Luke 2:24, where we read that she offered a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of
the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” We see from Luke 2:24 that this is what Mary offered for
herself, and so we know from this that they were a very poor family. Mary and Joseph were poor and yet had
great faith and were very obedient to God. And they didn’t let being poor get in the way of obeying God. Some
people teach that if you are poor, you are disobeying God somehow. Others say that if you are poor, somehow
that means you don’t have to obey God – like in tithing or supporting mission’s work.But Mary and Joseph did
not let being poor get in the way of obeying God. Not having very much money should never be an excuse for
disobeying God. There is a whole theology of money, riches and rewards that we could get into here, but let’s get
back to Mary’s purification. Mary was very conscientious in her obedience to God, and went through her 40 days
of purification and made her offering to the Lord, two turtledoves or two pigeons. She could not afford to bring
a lamb.
But interestingly, she did bring a Lamb that day. She held One in her arms who would purify her from all sin. It is
somewhat ironic again. She could not afford a lamb to purify herself from the uncleanliness that had resulted
from bringing the Lamb of God into the world, who was going to purify her from all uncleanliness! This sacrifice
for Jesus, troubled Mary and Joseph a little bit. I’m sure it bothered them that the only sacrifice they could offer
for Jesus was a poor family sacrifice. But nevertheless, they obeyed. And they obeyed again when they presented
Jesus at the temple, as we read about in verses 22-23.
d. In Presenting Jesus (Luke 2:22b-23)
Luke 2:22-23 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought
Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the
womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), These commands which Mary and Joseph obey regarding Jesus come
from Exodus 13 and Leviticus 27. The law was a result of the tenth plague in Egypt. The tenth plague was when
God struck dead all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, and any of the firstborn sons of Israel who did not have
the blood of the Passover lamb smeared on the door posts of their house. Because of this event, God wanted the
Israelites to set apart all the firstborn animals and all the firstborn males for Himself. The firstborn animals were
to be sacrificed to the Lord, and the firstborn males were to be set apart for life-long service of the Lord (Ex.
13:11-16). They were going to be the priests of God.“But the tribe of Levi became the priests,” you say. That’s
right. You see, when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the law, and he saw the children of Israel worshipping
the golden calf, he called all men to himself who were on the Lord’s side (Ex. 32:26) and sent them out to kill the
idolatrous Israelites. We read in Exodus 32 that all the men of Levi responded to Moses’ call, and as a result, the
tribe of Levi was set apart to be the priests of God.
But God didn’t need both the Levites and all the firstborn males. So he set up a way in Leviticus 27 for the firstborn
males to trade places in a sense with the Levites. They parent of the firstborn males would come to the temple,
and pay five shekels of silver to the Levites for their son, in a sense, buying their firstborn son back from the
temple service. And the Levites would take this money and buy the things they needed to live and serve in the
temple. So this is what Mary and Joseph to for Jesus. They go and redeem Him at the temple for about five shekels
of silver (Lev 27:6; Num 18:16). That’s about 2 ounces of silver, by the way. Jesus is sold for 30 pieces of silver
later in his life as well, but that’s another story.
Do you see the irony here in Luke 2:23 with Jesus being redeemed? Jesus himself is the Redeemer, and He had
come to redeem the world, but He himself had to be redeemed. Furthermore, his parents, though they were very
poor, had to pay five shekels of silver for him. [4] This is ironic because Jesus owned the world and the entire
universe, yet he had to redeemed with silver. We are not redeemed in such ways, but Jesus was so that He could
fulfill the law, and thus become our Redeemer. 1 Peter 1:8 says that we are not redeemed with silver or gold, but
with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus is only able to offer us eternal life because He lived without sin. It is
only because He is without blemish, and only because He fulfilled all the law, and only because He paid the full
price for our salvation, that He can give to us eternal life freely – to any who believe in Him for it. Mary and Joseph
played a part in this, as we have seen already today, in raising Jesus. This point is summarized and emphasized in
verses 39-40. We will look at Luke 2:25-38 in the next study. But the final point is that Mary and Joseph obeyed
God’s Word in raising Jesus.
e. In Raising Jesus (Luke 2:39-40)
Luke 2:39-40. So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee,
to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of
God was upon Him. It is at this point that they returned to Nazareth. Now, Luke does not record it, but we know
from Matthew that before they returned to Nazareth, the wise men showed up in Bethlehem, and then Mary
and Joseph flee to Egypt, and only then returned to Nazareth. It is in Nazareth where Jesus grew up, and was
raised by his parents. But Luke 2:40 shows us that although he was like other children in some ways, He was
unlike them in others. As Jesus grew physically, he was also developing mentally and spiritually. All three are
necessary for the proper growth and development of children.
But see verse 40? While most children are weak in their understanding of spiritual matters, Jesus was strong in
spirit. Some of the translations don’t say “strong in spirit”—only that he was strong. But I side with the position
that it should say “strong in spirit.” Jesus not only grew physically, but he also grew spiritually. Next we see that
while most children are foolishness bound up in their hearts (Prov. 22:15), Jesus was filled with wisdom, and while
most children produce both good and evil actions, Jesus only revealed that the grace of God…upon Him.[5] Luke
2:41-52 go into much greater detail on some of this, so we will look at that in studies to come.
Parents, very often, we focus on making sure our children are growing strong and healthy physically, and we send
them to school to develop mentally – but what steps are you taking to make sure they are developing spiritually?
“Oh, we to church as a family.” Good, wonderful…that’s a start, but it is not enough. None of you would only give
your children one meal a week, would you? No, of course not, they would be malnourished, sickly and underfed.
In the same way, you need to make sure your children are getting a steady diet of the Word of God. And the
church wants to help you in this – we have Sunday school on Sunday morning, and AWANA on Wednesday nights.
But beyond this, it is vitally important, according to numerous passages throughout the Bible – Deuteronomy 6
is one example – that the parents, and especially the father, teach the Bible to the children. And again, if you
don’t know how to do this, or where to start, the church wants to help you. Sunday nights we are teaching through
the Old Testament, we’re in Genesis tonight, and Wednesday nights in the men’s Bible study, for you fathers,
we’re studying through the New Testament, we begin in Acts this Wednesday.
So here is how it works. You come, and you learn, and then you go home and teach these things to your family.
Now if you’re doing other things to teach your family, that’s great, keep on doing it. But if you’re looking for some
direction and some help, well, come join us, so that we can all help one another, to raise spiritually strong children.
We can be certain that part of Jesus’ spiritual development was due to Joseph and Mary, but especially Joseph
teaching the Bible to Jesus. Joseph has shown that he and Mary want to obey the whole law, and part of the law,
as I mentioned, was for fathers to teach the Bible to their children. So we can be certain that Joseph taught Jesus
the Word of God. And if he taught Jesus, we certainly need to teach our own children as well. Some people hear
that and say, “Oh, Jesus didn’t need to learn the Bible – he wrote it!” Well, that’s a debatable issue, and we’ll look
at in more in two weeks. I believe Jesus did have to learn the Bible because he was human, just as we have to
learn it. Today though, let us close out with a lesson about why it was important for Mary, Joseph and Jesus to be
so careful and complete in their obedience of the law. In Matthew 5:17-18, we learn that Jesus came to fulfill the
law, not to destroy it. You see, the only way Jesus could be our Savior was if he fulfilled all the requirements of
the law. This is impossible for any man to do. But Jesus Christ, since He was God, could do it. And so, Jesus Christ
was born under the law. He was circumcised according to the law. He was redeemed as a firstborn as the law
commanded. And he lived his whole life in obedience to the law, so that, according to Galatians 4:1-7 and Romans
6:14-17, we do not have to. He was circumcised so that He might become sin for us (Gal 5:1-5). He was named
so that He might become our Savior. Mary was purified as a picture of how Jesus would purify us all. Jesus was
presented and redeemed at the temple to show us how He would redeem us all so that we can be presented holy
before the Lord. And Jesus was raised to maturity showing that all of us need to also grow in to Christ-like
maturity. And how does all of this happen for us? In two ways: First, Jesus has fulfilled the law because we never
could. You will never be purified from sin or redeemed to God through obeying the law. Jesus already did that for
us. All we have to do, to be purified and redeemed, is believe in Jesus for eternal life which He bought for us with
his own blood. It is bought and paid for through the complete obedience and precious blood of Jesus Christ. You
don’t have to pay for it. All you have to do is receive it through faith in Jesus Christ. And if you have done that, if
you are redeemed, then you must move on from there and grow into maturity. How do you do that? The same
way Jesus did it. Don’t just be hearers of the Word, be doers of it. James, the brother of Jesus, writes in James
1:22, “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” Mary and Joseph did this, and they were used greatly by God
in raising Jesus Christ. And as we do the same thing, hearing the Word, and obeying it, God will use us as well.