The Gospel of Luke

Luke 1:1-25

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is married to Pip and is one of the leaders at St Mary's and oversees; students, pastoral and Every Day with Matt.


Luke 1:1-25

Introduction

1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous - to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

19 The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time."

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realised he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people."

Reflection

And so the book opens, or should I say, the app opens.

As we embark together to read the Gospel according to Luke, here a few points about Luke's gospel.

1. Luke's gospel is his attempt to write an accurate account of what happened at the time of Jesus' ministry. He has used the testimony of eyewitnesses to produce his gospel "so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." (1-4) So let us read it with the conviction of its authenticity.

2. Luke writes two volumes, the first, his gospel, and the second, the Acts of the Apostles. The first tells of the work, wonders and teaching of Jesus, and the second the work, wonders and teaching performed in the name of Jesus by his followers the church. So let us read it with the expectancy that we are included in what has been written.

3. Finally, look out for some of the major themes that are emphasised more than other gospels; prayer, preaching good news, the inclusion of gentiles, the inclusion of women, the inclusion of social outcasts, the role of the Holy Spirit and great joy.

In today's account we have the common Biblical situation where an elderly wife is childless (See the mothers of Isaac, Jacob, Samson and Samuel). After years of praying, the husband, Zechariah, a temple priest is spoken to by an angel. Their son is announced and as is his destiny. Like Samson in Judges 13 whose mother had an angelic encounter and went on to not touch strong drink and be full of the Spirit. Zechariah's son, John the Baptist, would also not drink and was even filled with the Spirit before his birth. (15) He is no ordinary child. He has been chosen out for a very special purpose, to be the forerunner of Jesus, the last of the great prophets of the Hebrew Covenant.

Nevertheless, Zechariah is sceptical and is struck dumb for his unbelief. But, following this experience, Elizabeth does indeed conceive a child.

The stage is set for the next, and more important angelic announcement.

Like John, each of us has been called to be a forerunner of Jesus, to prepare the way for Jesus to come into other people's lives, especially those who have not yet had the experience of knowing him. What might that look like for you?

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