Announcement of John’s Birth
Announcement of Jesus’ Birth
Mary’s Song—The Magnificat
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,
3b. It was the hour of incense.
Zacharias was burning incense before the Lord while the people were praying
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
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
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.