Reading for March 3rd – Luke 1

Shane L. Bishop

Two “great” birth stories are offered. The first is John who is born of God aided natural means and the second is Jesus born of supernatural means.
Google: Bible birth stories. The similarities between John and Samson are worth noting.
John has far more conditions attached to his birth (Google: Nazarite).
Zacharias doubted and was mute until the delivery. I guess if you can’t say something nice…
Priests were part time and bi-vocational. Zacharias would have served his time and then resumed his normal life. With her pregnancy Elizabeth would have the cultural shame of being barren removed. Mary would step fully into that shame.
Elizabeth and Mary could have been three decades apart in age. Mary probably traveled to Judah to avoid the small town scandal of being with child and unmarried.
That John leapt in his mother’s womb upon encountering the also unborn Jesus reminds us that the first person to offer praise to Christ was an unborn baby!
How does this act of praise speak to you?
The filling of the Spirit by Elizabeth gives her a gift of knowledge. She never doubts Mary’s story. The birth stories are really an encounter with God among two related women who each bear a “great” son.
Those sons will change the world.
Google: Gospel of Luke.
Luke would have never met Jesus but was most probably Paul’s personal physician. His account was a journalistic effort involving primary sources like Peter.
The song of Mary (Magnificat) is a wonderful piece of poetry that prophecies of the “other-nature” of the Kingdom Jesus will bring. The proud are scattered. The lowly are exalted. The rich are empty and the hungry are full. Everything we know will be turned upside down. Like many of the Psalms, it seems tragic we have lost the tune.
How does the Kingdom Christ came to bring contrast with earthly kingdoms?
Elizabeth’s delivery is a celebration of the community. Clearly, the much younger Mary is not nearly so prominent. Once the name John is straightened out, Zacharias can speak again and he offers a prophecy concerning his son. Of note is that people will serve God “without fear.” Certainly John would grow up to be a fearless prophet.
Finally, the connection between salvation and forgiveness and sin is noted. We must be emptied of sin before we can be filled with Christ. You can’t fill what is already full.
We are left with anticipation as to what kind of special man John will grow to be. The people had no idea how special! Everything was about to change and John would lead the way!
Google: John the Baptist
The John prophecy from his father continues today. Clearly John is growing up well. He is also connected with the deserts. Prophets are often forged in hard places where the most basic needs of life cannot be taken for granted. It is in life’s deserts we learn to trust in God. Serious theology comes from the deserts.
Do difficult times propel you toward or away from God?

Doubting God:
Even the strongest believers have doubted God, and Zechariah was no different. However, Zechariah is included in a strong list of men and women in the Bible who overcame their doubts and eventually accomplished great things for God. The important component to each of the following examples is that they didn’t stay doubting, they were willing to move from doubt to belief.

Doubter Reference

  • Abraham Genesis 17:17
  • Sarah Genesis 18:12
  • Moses Exodus 3:10-15
  • Israelites Exodus 16:1-3
  • Gideon Judges 6:14-23
  • Zechariah Luke 1:18
  • Thomas John 20:24-25

*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke