We begin the new year with the gospel of Luke which presents in Luke 1:1 “events that have been fulfilled among us”. As we begin to read, we find the first account is of God answering the personal prayer of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth who in Luke 1:6 “were both righteous in the sight of God, living blamelessly”. Though they were fulfilling all that the Lord asked of them in their lives, their one hearts desire had gone unfulfilled. They didn’t have any children and it was past the time for them to have hope. But this is the amazing thing about God, he answers their personal prayer as he is setting the stage to introduce the savior of the world. This message of a son delivered by the angel Gabriel breaks the years of silence and renews the promise last heard by the prophet Malachi. As we go forward this year, search the scriptures and find the revelation of the Lord’s perfect will, his promise to you of a future and hope through Jesus Christ.
Introduction to Luke
As we take the opening words of the gospel of Luke we hear in Luke 1: 1 “many have attempted to compile an account” and in Luke 1:3 “it seemed best to me also … to write them down”. History is seldom written as it occurs, but often in retrospect, remembering the events as they unfolded. And here, I believe, William Barclay has captured the essence of this work in his introductory comments on “The Gospel of Luke”.
This is not only an account of Luke’s experience that simply offers his opinions, but a gathering of facts and accounts as was common in the Greek style of the day, to bring together the whole picture of God’s plan. To do this, “Luke, as he began his story in the most sonorous Greek, followed the highest models he could find. It is as if Luke said to himself, ‘I am writing the greatest story in the world and nothing but the best is good enough for it.’”1
This is not simply a letter to offer encouragement or to communicate the happenings of recent days as one would write to a friend, but it is a treatise intended to bring the reader into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And for tis purpose, “It is most significant that Luke was not satisfied with anyone else’s story of Christ. He must have his own. Real religion is never a second-hand thing. It is a personal discovery. Professor Arthur Gossip of Trinity College, Glasgow, used to say that the four gospels were important, but beyond them all came the gospel of personal experience.”1
Then comes the final truth, that the Lord wants to be found by us and “True inspiration comes when the searching mind joins with the revealing Spirit of God. The word of God is given, but it is given to those who search for it. ‘Search and you will find’ (Matthew 7:7).”1
The Events That Have Been Fulfilled Among Us
These event, written about in the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts were widely written about and have been widely discussed since. As the writer states, he was a participant as it says in Luke 1:1 “events that have been fulfilled among us”. There also though, are things “passed onto us” from in Luke 1:2 “those who were eyewitnesses”. And finally, it is the body of revelation of Jesus Christ, including references to Old Testament prophecies and writings that fulfill the writers intention in
Luke 1:4 “so that you may know the certainty concerning the things about which you were taught”.
An Angel of the Lord Appeared
This opening account comes after nearly four hundred years of silence that has followed the words of the prophet Malachi. And while this is written to the Gentiles, it begins with the account of a faithful Jewish man, a priest in Luke 1:5 “Zechariah by name”. And, as was required, he had married his wife from the priestly line, “from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth”. They are described in
Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous in the sight of God, living blamelessly in all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.”
Now we learn more about them that tells us they had one unfulfilled desire in their lives even though they have faithfully performed their duties and are many years into the routine of the priesthood: In Luke 1:7 “Elizabeth was barren”, “they were both advanced in years” and in Luke 1:8-9 “he (Zechariah) was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood” For a woman, and particularly for the wife of a priest “In that day it was a great reproach to be childless, for children were a sign of God’s blessing (cf. Gen 1:28; Lev 20:20–21; Pss 127 and 128; Jer 22:30)”2. But here, in the middle of his routine priestly service, in Luke 1:11 “An angel of the Lord appeared” and Zechariah responded as people do in the presence of angels, in Luke 1:12 “fear fell on him”.
Your Prayer Has Been Heard
The angel recognizes Zachariah’s fear and responds in Luke 1:13 “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will call his name John. 14 And you will experience joy and exultation, and many will rejoice at his birth.”
This is the greatest desire of their lives, to have a child, and even more to have a son that can carry on the family name. And this is the amazing thing about the Lord, he answers our personal prayer as he is setting the stage for the savior of the world. This child being born to Zechariah and Elizabeth will be “joy and exultation” to them and in
Luke 1:16 “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.”
Then the angel quotes Malachi 4:5-6 as a confirmation of the promise of the Lord to his people in
Luke 1:17 “And he will go on before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to prepare for the Lord a people made ready.”
He Was Not Able to Speak
- Luke 1:1–4 The Events That Have Been Fulfilled Among Us
- Luke 1:5–12 An Angel of the Lord Appeared
- Luke 1:13-20 Your Prayer Has Been Heard
- Luke 1:1-25
- 1. Barclay, W. (2001). The Gospel of Luke (p. 10). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.
- 2. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Lk 1:7). Biblical Studies Press.