Scripture reading – Luke 1

Luke 1 – A Credible Account of History Established by Eyewitnesses

The Author of the Gospel of Luke (1:1-4)

The apostle Paul identified Luke as, “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14), giving us insight into Luke’s training and secular occupation. Bible scholars believe he was a Gentile covert, and an educated man. His writings reveal he was a historian, recording the person and life of Christ (Gospel of Luke), and the history of the early Church (Acts of the Apostles). We are especially indebted to Luke for his record of the early church, and the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul.

The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were historical letters penned by Luke to a friend he identified as “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1), meaning the “friend of God” (Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1). Luke’s account of the life of Christ was owed to his privilege of knowing those who were “eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:1-2). His purpose for writing his Gospel was stated to Theophilus: “That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed” (Luke 1:4).

The Miraculous Conception and Birth of John the Baptist (1:5-25)

Luke presented the lineage of John the Baptist, whose birth and life fulfilled the prophecy regarding the forerunner of the Messiah (1:5-25; Malachi 3:1).  John’s father and mother, Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth, were of the tribe of Levi. He was a priest, and she was identified as one “of the daughters of Aaron” (1:5). Both are acknowledged as having godly character for “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the LORD blameless” (1:6). Yet, Elisabeth carried a stigma as a childless, barren woman (1:7).

An Angelic Birth Announcement (1:8-25)

Elisabeth was beyond childbearing years, yet they prayed and in the course of Zacharias’ ministry, God heard and answered their prayers (1:8-14). Dispatching the angel Gabriel (for he stood “in the presence of God,” 1:11, 19), it was revealed to Zacharias that Elisabeth would conceive and bear a son. The angel told Zacharias his son was to be named John, and many would “rejoice at his birth” (1:14). John was destined for greatness; however, it was not the greatness men thrust upon a child because of his lineage. Gabriel foretold John would be “great in the sight of the LORD…and he [would be] filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (1:15). John’s role would be that of the forerunner of the Messiah, and he would call “the children of Israel” to repent and turn to the LORD (1:16-17).

Zacharias doubted, and questioned the angel (1:18-20). He wondered how he might know all would come to pass as the angel had foretold (for he was “an old man” and his wife was “well stricken in years,” 1:18). Because Zacharias had not believed Gabriel’s words, the angel pronounced that he would be unable “to speak, until the day” John was born (1:20). The events that culminated with the birth of John the Baptist was interrupted by a second and most important appearance of the angel Gabriel. (1:21-25).

Gabriel’s Announcement and the Miraculous Conception of Jesus Christ (1:26-56)

Six months after Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, and his wife Elisabeth conceived John, the angel “was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (1:26-27). Gabriel’s announcement to the virgin Mary that she had “found favour with God” is well known by the majority of those reading this devotional (1:28, 31).

Mary was told the son she would conceive would “be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” (1:32). Yet, the Scriptures have made it clear that Mary was a virgin (1:27), and her own words give testimony to the same. Mary asked Gabriel, “How shall this be [how could she give birth to a son], seeing I know not a man?” (1:34). The answer is one of the most profound and essential truths of the Scriptures. Mary would conceive in her womb a child of the Holy Ghost, the only begotten Son of God (Luke 1:35).

Luke 1:39-56 is the record of the expecting Mary’s retreat from Nazareth, to the home of her elder cousin Elisabeth, whom Mary found to be great with child as the angel Gabriel had spoken (Luke 1:36).  The birth of John the Baptist, his divine mission, and preparation in the solitude of the desert conclude our Scripture reading (Luke 1:57-80).

I close our devotional with the prophetic words of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. He being filled with the Holy Ghost blessed his son, saying, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord To prepare his ways” (1:76).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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