By Toni Ford
The Gospel of Luke is the third gospel in the Bible and written by Luke himself, also known as the “beloved physician.” Since Luke was a trained physician, it comes as no surprise that he begins his book with detailed accounts of the births of two important babies, John the Baptist and Jesus. Luke also places an emphasis on the universality of Jesus Christ and His salvation. As Luke 2:10 says, “Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” All this begins with an introduction, one that will change the course of history forevermore!
Let’s take a look in the first chapter of Luke, at who God prepares for the great entry of the birth of Jesus Christ and their responses to this message.
Mary. People in Judah showed little respect for the Jews living in Galilee because of their contacts with the Gentiles that lived in Galilee. The Jews especially despised the people from Nazareth. It is no mistake that God in His grace chose a girl from Nazareth in Galilee to be the mother of the promised Messiah. Scripture does not tell us the exact age of Mary when the angel Gabriel asked her to birth the Savior of the world. However, Jewish tradition tells us that Jewish girls were considered marriageable at the age of 12. Can you imagine being 12 or 13 years old and an angel coming to tell you that you would be the mother of Jesus, the Savior of the world?
When Mary was approached by Gabriel, her response reveals her humility and honesty before God. She never expected to see an angel or to receive special favors from heaven. Luke 1:34-35 says, “Mary asked the angel, ‘But how can this happen? I am a virgin.’ The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Mary’s question was not one of unbelief but rather an expression of her faith. She believed the promise but did not understand how a virgin could give birth to a child. The angel encourages Mary and replies at the end with, “Nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37, verse 38 tells us, “Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.” Mary might not have understood everything perfectly, but she chose to trust what the angel was saying that NOTHING is impossible with God, thus the reason she was able to rest and put her trust in God.
Zechariah. He was married to Elizabeth. Both belonged to the priestly line. They were faithful to obey the Lord and lived blamelessly. Their only sorrow was they had no children, of which this was a constant prayer to God. Little did they know that the Lord would not only give them a child but would give them a prophet! Their son, John the Baptist, would be no ordinary prophet but would be the forerunner to Jesus, the Messiah! Once again, this message was passed on to Zechariah by an angel from God as Zechariah was performing his priestly duties of offering sacrifices in the temple.
Instead of looking to God in faith when the angel approached him, Zechariah looked at himself and his son and decided that based on their age, the birth of a son was impossible. Zechariah was questioning God’s ability to fulfill His own Word! Because of Zechariah unbelief, God gave him a very personal sign. Zechariah was unable to speak for nine months until John was born.
Elizabeth. Mary had heard that Elizabeth was pregnant, so Mary traveled to see her cousin so they could rejoice together. Luke 1:41 says, “At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Elizabeth received Mary’s greeting and knew immediately that the child Mary was carrying was truly the coming Messiah, just as the angel had told Zechariah. God not only kept His promise to Mary; He kept His promise to Elizabeth. She did conceive a son in her old age, and he was the greatest prophet that ever lived!
May each person reading this column today would be encouraged knowing that God is true to His Word and nothing is impossible for our God. Jeremiah 32:17 is still true today: “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” May you celebrate our Lord’s birth and rest in the promise of His Word this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!
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