Saturday, September 17, 2011

Luke: Unit 1 - The Announcement of the Birth of Jesus


We are back to using the  Interpretation Bible Studies series.  As noted in the title we are beginning a journey through the Gospel of Luke.  Last week we began with an introduction and learned the following:

  • It is commonly believed that Luke and Acts were written by the Gentile physician Luke, one of Paul's followers who is referenced in Colossians 4:14.
  • Believed that Luke / Acts were originally intended to be a "2-volume set"
  • Generally accepted that Luke was written in the latter third of the first century
  • Luke and Acts together comprise over 25% of the New Testament...more than all of Paul's letters
So with that quick recap of last weeks introduction let's begin Unit 1 - The Announcement of the Birth of Jesus.
  • Unit 1 covers Luke 1:39-56.  This section describes Mary's three month visit to her relative Elizabeth.  It also contains Mary's song.
  • However, Unit 1 bypasses a great deal of important material.  For that reason I want to expand our study to include all of Chapter 1...all 80 verses.
  • Chapter 1 can be broken out into 5 sections
    • The Dedication to Theophilus (which we covered in our introduction last week)
    • The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
    • The Birth of Jesus Foretold
    • Mary Visits Elizabeth (the lesson writer's section)
    • The Birth of John the Baptist
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

  • John the Baptist's parents were Zechariah - a priest from the lineage of Aaron, and Elizabeth who also was from the lineage of Aaron
  • A little background about Jewish priesthood
    • It is thought there were upwards of over 20,000 priests at this time
    • Divided into 24 sections
    • Each section served one week at the temple, twice a year
    • Large numbers of priests meant that assignments were assigned by drawing lots (God's choice).  Some priests might go there entire lives and never have the privilege of performing an important temple duty
  • Zechariah and Elizabeth were advanced in their years and had not had any children
  • Being barren was seen as a tragedy - it was even valid grounds for divorce
  • Zechariah draws the lot for burning the incense in the Holy of Holies
    • While in this special place he is visited by Gabriel
    • Gabriel explains that Elizabeth will give birth to a son to be named John
    • John is shorter form of name Jehohanan - Yahwey's gift or God is gracious
    • Zechariah's disbelief causes him to be mute for the entirety of Elizabeth's pregancy
  • Important to note the righteous man of God's disbelief, similarity between this account and that of Abraham and Sara
The Birth of Jesus Foretold

  • Same angel, Gabriel appears to Mary bringing the news that she will be the mother of Jesus
  • Mary, a virgin, is betrothed to Joseph
  • A few interesting tidbits about engagements at this time in Jewish history
    • were arranged by the parents
    • typically lasted about a year before the couple were married
    • was a binding contract, required a divorce decree to back out
    • bride to be was considered a widow if groom died during the engagement
  • Undoubtedly while Elizabeth was advanced in years, Mary was very young...probably no more than 13-14.
  • Contrast Mary's response to Gabriel with that of Zechariah's
    • Zechariah educated, wise man of God - disbelief
    • Mary uneducated, young girl - "I am the Lord's servant, whatever He says, I accept."
Mary Visits Elizabeth

  • Mary visits Elizabeth during the 3rd trimester of Elizabeth's pregancy
  • Three special items to note in Elizabeth's greeting
    • Elizabeth calls Mary and her unborn child "blessed"
      • Two Greek words for blessed makarios - state of happiness, and eulogetos - invokes a blessing of God
      • By using the latter Elizabeth is proclaiming that Mary has been chosen by God
    • Elizabeth signals the identity of Mary's unborn child...calling him "Lord"
    • Elizabeth's greeting confirms the appropriate response to God's plan - hearing and obeying
  • At the sound of Mary's voice unborn John leaps in Elizabeth's womb
  • Foretells that the older will serve the younger (similar to Esau and Jacob)
  • Mary is overjoyed and breaks out in song
    • Mary's song is not unlike that of Hannah's when she finds out her barreness is gone and she is to give birth to Samuel
    • Important to note that Mary begins her song by praising God and all He has done for her
    • Song's second stanza acknowledges God's steadfast love and how God will correct all of the wrong's of this life by lifting up the poor and downtrodden
The Birth of John the Baptist
  • Elizabeth gives birth to John
  • Neighbors and relatives want to know his name
  • Elizabeth says John
  • People are confused, no one in their family has been named John, thus no precedence
  • People go to Zechariah, he writes down "His name is John"
  • Immediately he was able to speak
  • He then prophesizes about the role of his son John and the one who is to follow, the Messiah.

Interpretation - A Bible Commentary for  Teaching and Preaching: Luke, Fred B. Craddock, 1990, John Knox Press

Interpretation Bible Studies: Luke, Thomas W. Walker, 2001, John Knox Press

The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Luke, William Barclay, 2001, John Knox Press

No comments:

Post a Comment