This post includes much Scripture, making it a long post. I have done my best to condense it. I hope you are blessed.
We Can Believe God and His Word Based Upon His Faithfulness to Fulfill His Promises.
Luke 1: Brief Synopsis
I. Gabriel’s Message to Zacharias
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God… there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth... he shall be great in the sight of the Lord… he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb… many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God… he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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… Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season
Luke records the barrenness and age of Elisabeth. The conception and birth of John the Baptist was supernatural. God ensures that everyone understands His dynamic involvement in the fulfillment of prophecy and initiation of the Gospel (Salvation)
The birth of John the Baptist is inseparable form the birth of Jesus Christ. The ministry of John the Baptist is inseparable from the ministry of Christ, and more specifically the Gospel. John prepared the way for Christ (fulfilling Isaiah 40.3 and Malachi 3.1)
Zacharias did not believe the angel Gabriel (He did not believe God.). He was smitten, and temporarily lost the ability to speak. There are consequences for not believing God, and there are blessings for those who believe God (I will elaborate on this point in my next post.). We must be careful to believe God’s Word.
The name John means “Jehovah (name of the supreme God among the Hebrews) is a gracious giver. ”
Such a name identifies John’s message. In cooperation with the Holy Spirit, John prepares the people to receive the truth that God is giving Himself in and through the person of Christ.
II. Gabriel’s Message to Mary (Fulfillment of Isaiah 7.14)
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.32 He shall 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:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.39
Gabriel told Mary to name her son Jesus (Jehovah is salvation). We can accurately and biblically include Salvation to the long list of names that we recognize for Christ. I will elaborate more on this in my next post. I love what Gabriel says about Jesus. Jesus fulfills Isaiah 7.14; 9.6, and He will complete the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenant, He shall 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: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end… that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Mary did not fully understand the complexity of what Gabriel said, and I am certain that she was rather confused about much of what he said.
Mary was a bit surprised when Gabriel told her that she would have a son. Despite the shocking news there is no evidence that she worried about the message. Although, she would have had good reason to be concerned, since she was a virgin espoused to be married. She believed Gabriel and she trusted God.
Mary spent a few months with Elisabeth. When she told Elisabeth about Gabriel’s message John lept in Elisabeth’s womb. Just as Gabriel had spoken, John the Baptist (through the filling of Elisabeth. verse 41) was filled with the Holy Ghost and would supernaturally lead people to repentance. Even in the womb John was enthusiastic about his message.
III. John’s Birth
Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.
Friends and family praised and worshiped God for the supernatural birth of John. People were surprised to hear the name of Elisabeth’s son, it was normal to name the son after the father. When Zachariah identified John’s name his tongue was loosed and he praised God. God’s method had a fearful, curious, and lasting impact on the people. I believe that naming Zachariah’s son John emphasized the reality that his birth was supernatural, testifying God’s miraculous involvement. The birth of John was not comparable to the birth of Christ, but Elisabeth was barren and beyond child bearing years. V. 37 For with God nothing is impossible.
IV. Zachariah’s Prophecy
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.76 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;77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
A part of this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. One day Jesus will vanquish the enemies of Israel and Jesus will sit on the throne of David. However, the prophecy of John the Baptist has been perfectly fulfilled; he preached repentance and remission of sins and pointed to Jesus, declaring Him to be the Lamb of God.
The birth of Christ had to precede the cross of Christ. We cannot separate the birth of Christ from the cross of Christ. He came to die, so that we could live. When we celebrate Christmas we must realize that the birth narrative is insignificant to the larger reality of the cross. When we celebrate the birth of Christ we are actually celebrating the fulfillment of OT prophecy and the arrival (embodiment) of salvation for all who believe. Mark 10.45; Luke 19.10