Luke 1

 

34 Mary asked, “How will this be?” She didn’t ask, “How will I know this?” as Zechariah had asked. His question arose from unbelief. Her question arose from a desire to know the way in which God would perform this great miracle.

35 Then the angel told Mary that her son would not be born by a human father, but by God’s own Spirit. Jesus would truly be the Son of God (see Matthew 1:18 and comment).

When Joseph found out about Mary’s pregnancy, he decided to divorce her (Matthew 1:19). But an angel spoke to him also and told him not to divorce Mary, because she was pregnant not by a another man but by the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 1:2021,24-25 and comment).

36-38 Then the angel told Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Elizabeth was a relative of Mary on the side of Mary’s mother. Let Mary not doubt. If God could give an old barren woman like Elizabeth a child, He could also give a virgin a child (Genesis 18:10-14; Mark 10:27).

 

39-40 When Mary heard about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she went to visit her at her home in Judah (the province of Judea) south of Jerusalem.

41-44 When Elizabeth saw Mary, the Holy Spirit filled her and she knew at once that Mary would be the mother of the Messiah, the Savior. She called Mary the mother of my Lord (verse 43). As a sign that what the angel had told Mary was indeed true, Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb.

45 Then Elizabeth blessed Mary for believing God would fulfill His word to her.

 

46-49 When Mary heard Elizabeth’s words, she began to praise God for choosing her, an ordinary village woman, to be the mother of the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 and comment). No woman has ever received a greater honor. She called God her Savior, because through His Son in her womb, He would save all who believe in Him (1 Timothy 2:3).

50-56 Then Mary praised God for His mercy to His servant Israel, that is, the Jewish nation (verses 54-55). In particular, she praised Him for His mercy in fulfilling, through her son Jesus, the promise He had given to ABRAHAM and his descendants (Genesis 17:7; 22:17). Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation.

God always shows mercy to those that fear Him (verse 50). He casts down the proud and exalts the humble (verses 51-52). God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6). He helps the poor, but turns the rich away empty (verse 53). And now, through Mary, God was going to show His greatest mercy, His greatest love to the world, by sending His own Son into the world to save men (see John 3:16 and comment). How can Mary not praise such a God? How can we, too, not praise Him?

 

57-60 All Jewish male babies were CIRCUMCISED on the eighth day of life (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3). Usually Jewish children were named at birth by the father, but Zechariah was still deafand dumb from the time he had seen the angel Gabriel (verse 20). Then Elizabeth, in obedience to the command of the angel (verse 13), said, “He is to be called John.7

61-63 Then Zechariah confirmed that the child’s name was John.

64-66 As soon as he had written, “His name is John,” Zechariah received again his power to speak. The friends and neighbors who had come for the circumcision ceremony were filled with fear and amazement. They knew that God had given John some special work to do because of the amazing circumstances of his birth.

 

67 Then Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. Whenever the Old Testament prophets prophesied, they did so by the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit, that is, God Himself, spoke through the prophets’ mouths and through their writings (see 2 Peter 1:19-21 and comment).

After Christ’s death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and remained with them. Jesus said to them, “[The Holy Spirit] lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). For Christians, the Spirit doesn’t come only at special times. The Holy Spirit lives in every believer constantly (see 1 Corinthians 6:19).

68-69 Zechariah knew that his son was appointed to make ready a people (the Jews) prepared for the Lord (verse 17). He knew that that Lord was now in Mary’s womb. Therefore, he praised God, “because he has come and has redeemed his people” (verse 68). God had sent the Messiah, the Redeemer, to earth. Zechariah called him a horn8 of SALVATION (verse 69), a Savior, descended from the house of David. The Savior came to redeem His people; that is, He came to pay the price for their sins and thus reconcile them to God.

70 God had said through His prophets in the Old Testament that He would send such a Savior. Now these prophecies had been fulfilled.

71 The Jews believed that the Messiah, the Savior, would deliver them from their enemies. In Jesus’ time, Israel had fallen under the control of the Roman Empire. They had lost their freedom. They were a persecuted people. Therefore, they looked to the Messiah to save them from their enemies, the Romans.

72 God raised up a “horn of salvation” to show mercy to the Jews and to remember his holy COVENANT. This covenant was the agreement made between God and the Jews. God said that if the Jews obeyed His law, He would be their God and would protect and guide them (Exodus 19:5-6).

73-75 God also raised up a “horn of salvation,” that is, a Savior, to fulfill the oath He made to Abraham, the first Jew, two thousand years before the time of Christ. Because Abraham was obedient to God, God promised to bless his descendants (Genesis 22:15-18), and to rescue [them] from the hand of [their] enemies (verse 74). He promised to give them a land (Genesis 15:18), in which they could live in safety without fear, and serve God in holiness and righteousness (verse 75).

76 At this point Zechariah’s song changes from a song of praise to a song of prophecy. Zechariah prophesied that his son would be a PROPHET of the Most High—that is, a prophet of God (Matthew 11:9)—and that he would prepare the way for the Lord, Christ (see Mark 1:2-3; Luke 1:17 and comment).

77 John was to give his people, the Jews, the knowledge of salvation, the salvation of their souls, spiritual salvation. Most of the Jews thought only about worldly “salvation,” that is, deliverance from their worldly enemies. But John came to tell them that what they really needed was deliverance, or salvation, from their spiritual enemies—their sins (see Matthew 1:21 and comment). This salvation would only come to them if they confessed their sins and received forgiveness. That is why John came preaching repentance and baptizing people, so that they might be cleansed of their sins (see Mark 1:4 and comment).

78 Man’s salvation is possible because of the tender mercy of God, who sent His Son Jesus, the rising sun, from heaven to save His people, Israel.

79 Here Zechariah says that Jesus will be a shining light in the darkness guiding men into the path of PEACE, that is, peace with God (seeMatthew4:16; John 1:4; 8:12; Romans 5:1 and comments). And John the Baptist will be the one who announces the coming of Jesus, the Savior (John 1:6-9).

All these things that Zechariah prophesied came to pass exactly as he had foretold.

80 John the Baptist grew up in the desert. He remained there until he began his public ministry. He didn’t need the education of schools; he received his education directly from God.

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