The Birth of John (1:57-66)
Zacharias’ Song—The Benedictus
The Maturing Years of John (1:80)
The Birth of Jesus (2:1-7)
The Angels and the Shepherds
Rejoiced, mercy, hand of the
Lord, Holy Spirit, blessed, salvation, prophet of the highest, Bethlehem,
manger, glory, good tidings of great joy, city of David/lineage of David,
shepherds, peace, Savior.
1. Read Gen 17:9-14
2c. The miracle made Zacharias
and the people clearly aware that John was no ordinary child and that the
Lord’s hand was with the child (66). The name “John” means “God shows favor” or
“God is gracious.” The meaning of this God-given name and the fact that God
opened the mouth of Zacharias the moment the child was named must have sent a powerful
message to everyone that the Lord has come to redeem His people. Therefore
through these miraculous events, God was already preparing the people’s hearts
for the Gospel.
4. He will be a prophet who
declares God’s message of repentance. He will announce to the people about the
coming of the Savior to deliver them from their sins.
5a. Salvation is deliverance from
the hand of Satan, who holds the power of sin and death (Acts 26:18; Col 1:13;
Heb 2:14). Through the Lord’s redemption, we are no longer under the control of
the sinful nature and our lives are now free from Satan’s oppression and
dominance (cf. Eph 2:1-2).
5b. Having been freed from the
power of sin, we may now serve the Lord God by offering our bodies as
instruments of righteousness, living a holy and blameless life (Rom 6:11-14;
5c. Salvation is through the
remission of sins. Christ has conquered sin through His death and resurrection.
Through baptism, the blood of Christ washes away all our sins and our old self
is crucified (Acts 22:16; 2:38; Rom 6:1-7). Having been justified, we will not
have to face condemnation (Rom 5:9-11).
5d. The Greek word that is
rendered as “Dayspring” (also translated as “rising sun”) is the same word that
is used to translate the messianic term “Branch” in Jer 23:5 and Zech 3:8;
6:12. In other words, “Dayspring” is clearly referring to Jesus Christ.
Salvation is like the light of dawn that gives us hope and joy (Acts 26:18; Mt
4:15-16; Rom 5:1-5,10-11). The way of salvation is also the way of peace because
we are reconciled with God and we can have the peace of Christ in our lives (Jn
14:27; 16:33; Phil 4:4-9).
6a. Being strong in spirit refers
to the maturity and strength of the inner man, including the person’s
understanding, faith, determination, and character (cf. 1Cor 14:20; 16:13; Eph
3:16; 6:10; Phil 4:13; 1Pet 4:1)
6c. God often trained His
servants by sending them into solitude before their public ministry (e.g.
Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Paul). John’s simple and harsh life (cf. 1:15) helped him
develop a strong spirit, so he may go “in the spirit and power of Elijah.”
The ministry of John from the
wilderness also fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, “The voice of one crying in the
wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight’” (Luke 3:4;
Isa 40:3). The people went out to John to accept his baptism, confessing their
sins (Mt 3:5-6). In contrast to the cities, along with their cares and
comforts, the deserts offered a quiet place for people to focus on restoring
their relationship with God through repentance.
6d. As servants of God, we must
live a watchful life, living by the Spirit rather than the desires of the
sinful nature (cf. Eph 5:15-18; Gal 5:16-17; 1Pet 1:13; 2:11; 4:1-3; Lk
21:34-36). We need to withdraw from the cares and worries of this life and seek
an intimate relationship with the Lord in order to be strong in our spirit.
7. So that Christ may be born in
Bethlehem, the city of David, according to prophecy.
8. God chose to be born in a
lowly state for the sake of preaching the gospel and to demonstrate that He
came as a servant to save the humble and needy (cf. 2Cor 8:9; Mk 10:45).
9. Shepherds had a lowly place in
society and were often despised. It is significant that the good tidings first
came to the shepherds out of all people. This is consistent with the theme in
Luke that even the social outcasts had a place in God’s salvation plan.
10. For the meaning of peace, see
5d. In addition to reconciliation with God, the peace here may also include
reconciliation among men (cf. Eph 2:13-18; Isa 11:6-9; 65:25).
12. Mary was sensitive to the
deeds of God and kept them in her heart. Meditating on the Lord’s words and
what He has done in our lives enable us to gain wisdom and know what the Lord’s
will is (cf. Eph 5:17; Php 4:8-9; Ps 1:2)
13. Unlike the gods of other
religions, Jesus Christ the Son of God does not have a beginning (Jn 1:1; 8:58;
17:5; Rev 22:13; cf. Heb 7:3). Therefore, we should not set a date and honor
this day as the birthday of Christ the way the pagans do for their gods.
Serving God in the manner of pagan worship is detestable to the Lord (Deut
12:29-31). While the historical event of Christ’s birth was an occasion for
joy, the Bible does not teach believers to hold celebrations once a year for
the birth of Christ.