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LUKE - Christ, the Savior of the World
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Luke


1. The Announcement of John the Baptist's Birth (Luke 1:5-25)

LUKE 1:8-17
8 Now it happened, while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 The whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zacharias, because your request has been heard, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness; and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord, their God. 17 He will go 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 just; to prepare a people prepared for the Lord.”

Public worship took place in the temple of the Lord every day at nine o’clock in the morning before making the burnt offering, and at three o’clock in the afternoon after the same offering (Acts 3:1). During both occasions many worshippers met to praise together the glory of the Holy One and to pour out their hearts before him. It happened that the eighth priestly division stayed for a complete week in Jerusalem to perform all the services of the temple.

The Lord chose Zacharias by lot to minister at the altar and offer incense in the temple. As the people joined in hymns of prayer, the elder moved forward to the holy place and burnt the incense in token of their prayers and praises ascending to the Lord (Psalms 141:2; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4). However, the ministering priest fell down in adoration to the near All-Hearing God, summing up in ritual words the communal pleas. He had the privilege of bringing sacred personal pleas before the Lord. God answered his prayer in a wonderful way. The elder immediately saw a luminous angel standing in bright glory on the right side of the altar out of which the smell of incense ascended in the midst of the darkness of the holy room. And then the priest was troubled, for any appearance of a spiritual being signified punishment and judgment. None is righteous of himself before God. So do not ask your Lord for the appearance of angels or Christ, but repent as long as it is called “Today” and believe in Christ so that he may fill you with his Holy Spirit who is God himself.

The angel did not come for judgment, but gave good tidings to Zacharias of the beginning of the age of God’s grace. No man can realize the radical change in his Lord’s plan, therefore God sent an angel so that Zacharias might realize the spiritual change to come. The brilliant angel comforted the troubled priest and ordered him not to be afraid. The statement, “Do not be afraid” appears 365 times in the Holy Bible. It orders us according to the number of the days of the year not to be afraid at all.

The writer confirmed that God answers prayers maybe late according to our feeling, but punctually according to his prudent loving will. Then rest assured that no word or statement of your prayers is forgotten. The good Father does not neglect the pressing needs of his children, but answers in prudence and due time. Do you believe that each word of your pleas is answered according to the will of your Lord’s mercy?

The angel was a person speaking understandable words. He brought us good tidings of days of joy and gladness, for the meaning of the name “John” is the Lord is gracious. The Creator healed the weak body of Elizabeth so that she might be able to conceive. Would that the Lord touches the dry bodies of churches so that they might be filled and the children of God be multiplied.

Many promises of the Old Testament had their accomplishment in the coming of John the Baptist (Malachi 3:1,23,24; Isaiah 40:1-4). All angels and believers rejoiced at his coming, for his appearance indicated a new age in the entire creation of God. Since childhood, John was devoted and consecrated to God, who filled the forerunner of his Son with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb so that he might be able to carry out his hard task. Thus John was the greatest among those born of women. He surpassed philosophers, kings and prophets. Yet, in spite of his excellence, he was not born of the Holy Spirit, but in a normal manner of Zacharias his father. He who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the great.

God had prepared two services for the Baptist: First he had to call the multitudes to repentance so that they might discover their sins, and to baptize the brokenhearted with the baptism of forgiveness in the Jordan. So John "tilled the minds" of all the people with his sharp word, prepared their hearts to receive the new "plant" and kindled the great movement of repentance. Here his second service began. He did not call himself Christ or founder of a new age, but confessed that he was only a forerunner in the hands of the coming Lord to guide people to him. He taught the Jews that a prophet in the spirit and power of Elijah should be sent before the day of the Lord. Later on Jesus testified openly that the spirit and power of Elijah worked in the Baptist as an indication of the truth of Christ (Matthew 17:11-13).

Those prepared among the elders who were deep-rooted in the Law were led by the Holy Spirit into conversion that they might join the new generation following Christ and enter together the open doors of the age of grace.

At the same time, the Holy Spirit broke the obstinacy of disobedient young people and led them to be God-fearing, humble and obedient. In this manner, the Spirit of the Lord calls you to repentance and conversion so that you may please God by accepting the Gospel. He who realizes his sins, confesses them penitently and forsakes them by accepting Christ’s salvation becomes a living member of the people of God who are spread in all nations and tongues that are called Christians today. Are you a servant of the Lord in your surroundings distinguished by humility and activity?

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for sending John the Baptist and opening the age of grace through him. Please lead us to true repentance so that we may be converted and filled with your Spirit and become living members of your holy people.

8. How did the angel appear to Zacharias?
9. What are the promises in the Old Testament about John the Baptist?
10. What are the principles of his service?


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