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Lesson 2
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Lesson 2

I.       Observation

A.     Outline

Introduction (1:1-4)

Announcement of John’s Birth (1:5-25)

Announcement of Jesus’ Birth (1:26-38)

Mary Visiting Elizabeth (1:39-45)

Mary’s Song—The Magnificat (1:46-56)

B.     Key Words/Phrases

Fulfilled, an orderly account, righteous/blameless, temple of the Lord, the hour of incense, angel of the Lord, prayer, joy and gladness/rejoice, Holy Spirit, people/children of Israel, spirit and power of Elijah, glad tidings, virgin, House of David, highly favored one, blessed, Son of the Highest, Holy Spirit, Son of God, Savior, mercy.

C.     Segment Analysis

3b. It was the hour of incense. Zacharias was burning incense before the Lord while the people were praying outside.

3c. Although each division served in the temple twice a year, an individual priest could burn incense only once in his lifetime. Since there were so many priests, not everyone had the chance to carry out this duty.

3d. The temple was a place of God’s presence and the center of worship. The prominence of Jerusalem and the temple in Luke helps the reader establish a direct connection between Christ and the Messianic expectations in the OT. Here in the opening event, God’s word came to Zachariah while he was offering incense in the temple and while the people were praying outside the temple. This setting and timing clearly suggest that the coming of John and Christ were the saving act of God in fulfillment of His promise to the people.

5a. John is to preach a message of repentance so that the hearts of the people will be ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Like Elijah, who turned the hearts of the Israelites back to God through his faithful perseverance and divine power, John will also carry out a powerful ministry.

The phrase ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children’ is taken from Malachi 4:6, which prophesied about restored harmony in the family. A family that submits to God will have peace and harmony. This phrase may also mean that the forefathers of Israel would, if they knew of it, be pleased with the people’s repentance.

6a. His question, “How shall I know this?” was probably a demand for a sign from God to confirm His words. In other words, he could not trust God’s promise. The words “For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years” show that he did not believe that God could do the impossible.

6b. Even though he had been praying to God for a son (or for the redemption of Israel), he had already lost hope. He did not believe that God would actually answer his prayer and make the impossible happen.

6c. It’s easy to give up when our prayers don’t seem to be answered. We often only focus on our immediate circumstance. When God doesn’t act in a way that we expect Him to, we begin to doubt whether God is listening or whether He is able to do what we ask. We need to wait patiently without losing faith. God looks at a bigger picture, and He will carry out His will in His time (cf. Isa 55:8-9). He hears every prayer, even though He may not respond immediately. We must trust that God will do what is right and best for us even if He doesn’t do according to what we ask(Rom 8:28,32).

9. Gabriel’s words are a clear reference to God’s promise to David that He will establish the throne of his kingdom forever (2Sam 7:12-13). When the Messiah comes, he will sit on David’s throne and rule. According to Gabriel, Jesus, the Son of God and descendant of David (Rom 1:3-4), will fulfill the Messianic prophecy and establish a spiritual kingdom. Through the redemption of Christ, God has brought his people into His everlasting kingdom (Col 1:12-14).

11b. Mary was at first troubled at the angel’s words (29). When the angel announced that she would conceive, she didn’t understand how this could happen, since she was only a virgin (34). After the angel explained to her that God would accomplish His purpose through a miracle, Mary accepted the mission and submitted to the Lord’s will (38).

There are times when we do not fully understand how God’s word can possibly come true in our lives. But we need to trust that “with God nothing will be impossible” (37). We must humbly submit to the Lord’s will even when God’s word seems to defy our logic.

12c. Just as Mary acknowledged her role as the Lord’s maidservant, we should also understand that we are the Lord’s instruments and that God has complete sovereignty over our bodies and lives. If we surrender ourselves to Him for His use, He will accomplish His work through us.

13a. The angel had told Mary that Elizabeth had also conceived a son (36). Her haste may be due to  joy for Elizabeth, and amazement, and the hope to learn more about the mission that God has entrusted to her.

13b. This part of the narrative establishes the relationship between John the forerunner and Jesus the Messiah (cf. Jn 3:26-29). The joy of the Holy Spirit that led the babe to leap in his mother’s womb indicates that the coming of Jesus will be a good tiding to the world and John will be the one to prepare for His coming.

13c. Elizabeth’s experience and words led Mary to the conviction that God has indeed shown her favor. In response, Mary sang praise to the Lord.

14a. The song rightly concludes this part of the narrative with praise to God for His mercy and deliverance. The coming of Jesus the Savior are the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel (54-55). Thus the song exalts and glorifies God’s name.

14b. Joyful exaltation of God. God’s might, holiness, and mercy in His acts of deliverance. God’s justice in opposing the proud but giving grace to the humble. God’s faithfulness in keeping His covenant.

15. Mary came from a humble background (cf. Jn 1:46). But from the story we know that she was a woman of faith and piety. She knew God’s will through the Scriptures and humbly surrendered herself to the Lord. God has no regard for the “mighty” or the “rich”—those who exalt themselves—but bestows His favor on those who fear Him.

16. Praise and joy are the highest expressions of our faith and trust in God. Although what were about to happen to Mary would bring her trouble and heartache (cf. 2:35), she rejoiced at God’s wonderful deeds for Israel. We should learn to understand God’s larger purpose and carry out God’s will joyfully even if doing God’s word leads to personal difficulties and sacrifices. In fact, we ought to consider it a blessing and honor to be His instrument.


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