The Gospel of Jesus Christ. From the book of Luke (KJV)
You may read and discover Chuck’s entire biblical commentary here. http://www.blueletterbible.org/
The truth according to The Word of God! The Book of Luke in the Holy Bible. Don’t be deceived by another Gospel!
Luke, the author of this third gospel, was called by Paul the apostle “the beloved physician.” There is some speculation that his patron was a man by the name of Theophilus. In those days physicians were often slaves. And there are some who theorize that Luke was Theophilus’ personal physician and servant. Whether or not that be so is only a matter of speculation, and thus, worthless to delve into.
Luke was a Greek. And he is the only Gentile to have the privilege of placing scripture in that holy canon of scripture, which we recognize as inspired of God. And there are two New Testament books that are ascribed to Luke. Of course, the gospel according to Luke and then the Acts of the apostles, which he begins again addressing himself to Theophilus saying, “The former treatise have I made onto thee, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1).
There are some who say that the word Theophilus is not actually a person at all, but just the word in Greek, Theophilao is “lover of God”. And so that Luke is actually addressing his letter to the lovers of God. However, the people were usually named after hopes or aspirations or whatever of their parents, and there is no real reason to believe that Theophilus was not an actual person. In fact, being addressed as the most excellent Theophilus indicates that he was actually a ruler in the Roman Empire, as that is a title that is given to men who had a ruling position within the Roman Empire.
Luke introduces the gospel to Theophilus in the first four verses of chapter one.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in an orderly fashion those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them onto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had a complete understanding of all of these things from the very first, to write unto thee an orderly progression, most excellent Theophilus. That you may know the certainty of those things, wherein you have been instructed (Luk 1:1-4).
So Luke here declares that he has heard the message from those persons who were actually the eyewitnesses to these things. Now Luke, no doubt, interviewed personally Mary, in order that he might get a complete understanding concerning the circumstances that were surrounding the birth of Jesus. Luke, being a doctor, would be interested in various aspects that bordered on the medical profession. And it is obvious that he received the information of chapters one and two directly from Mary. And so from his interview with Mary and his questioning of Mary, he got the information for chapters one and two. And the information in these two chapters is not found in detail like this in the other gospels. He had heard Peter and John and those who had been with Jesus, those who were eyewitnesses, he heard their stories, as they told of their relationship with Jesus and of the work and the ministry that Jesus preformed. And then he, no doubt, questioned them more thoroughly to get a more complete understanding. And having what he feels to be a complete understanding of the story, he then proceeds to write to this man Theophilus, in order that he might realize the certainty of those things that he had heard.
Now Luke begins then the actual story of the gospel of Jesus by dealing with the birth, first of all, of John the Baptist, who was to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ.
And so there was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth (Luk 1:5).
So immediately we are introduced to the persons that will be involved in the first part of his narrative here.
Zacharias of the tribe of Levi, making him then one of the priests. He was of the family of Abirim. His wife was also of the tribe of Levi. She was a descendent from the family of Aaron. Now at this particular time in Israel, there were around 20,000 descendents from Levi, male descendents, involved in the priesthood. And in as much as it was, of course, impossible for all 20,000 to serve continually in the temple, each family had their turn to serve, and they served twice during the year for one-week periods. And when it was the turn of your family to serve, they would cast lots to determine what particular aspect of the service you would be engaged in. And maybe once in a lifetime the priest would have his lot to fall upon the offering of the incense before the altar of incense before the Lord. This was usually just a once in a lifetime; one day in your life you get this glorious privilege of going in with the incense before the altar of incense to offer it before the Lord for the people. And so this was surely a significant and a special day for Zacharias, who during the time that he was serving there, the lot fell on him for this particular task.
Now we are told concerning Zacharias and Elisabeth that:
They were both righteous before God, [they] walked in all of the commandments and the ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luk 1:6).
Two beautiful, righteous people who are quite insignificant as far as the world is concerned. People who loved the Lord, people who walked with the Lord, people you would have never heard about, unless they had been so involved in the story of Jesus Christ. The people, because of their involvement, we are told of them.
Now we are also told that:
They had no child, because Elisabeth was barren; and they were both now well stricken in years (Luk 1:7).
That is, the years had taken their toll; they were bent over. They had become feeble. And the idea of well stricken in years is that of feebleness as the result of age.
In that culture it was considered a curse for a woman not to bear a child. And it was legal grounds for divorce. Had Zacharias desire to put away Elisabeth because of her inability to bear children, no one would have questioned him. It would have been accepted by everybody. But, no doubt, there was a tremendous love that they shared together, and they shared this grief and this sorrow together that they were unable to have children.
Now it came to pass, that, while he was fulfilling the priest office before God in the order of his course (Luk 1:8),
They had the priestly orders, and this was one of the weeks that he had to come in for his particular duty of service.
According as was the custom of the priest office, his lot fell that he might burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord (Luk 1:9).
And you can imagine the excitement of this old man, probably the only day in his life. And he probably had given up by now ever having the opportunity of burning incense. When the lots were drawn, his was that lot to burn the incense before the Lord that day.
And the whole multitude of people were praying outside at the time of incense (Luk 1:10).
Now they would go in before the altar of incense, and they would take this little golden bowl that had burning coals that had been taken from the altar where they had offered the sacrifice. The lamb was offered in the morning and in the evening. And they would take the coals from the altar, put it in this little golden bowl, and then they would put the incense on top. And they would go in swinging this little incense burner before the altar incense, and the smoke, the sweet smelling smoke, would ascend up, and it was a beautiful symbolism of how God receives the prayers of His people. Our prayers that we offer to God arise before God as a sweet smelling odor, pleasant, beautiful.
In the book of Revelation, chapter 5, when the lamb takes the scroll out of the right hand of Him who is sitting upon the throne, John said, “And the twenty-four elders came forth with their little golden bowls, full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints, and they offered them before the throne of God” (Revelation 5:8).
Now you remember that when God gave to Moses the instructions for building the tabernacle, and all of these furnishings, and the methods of worship were established, the Lord told Moses over, and over, “Now be careful that you make it exactly according to plan.” And the reason why he was to make it exactly according to the plan that was given to him was because this whole thing was a model of what is in heaven. If you want to know what the heavenly scene, the throne of God and all looks like, you can study the tabernacle. And it was a model of heavenly things. So, as the priest on earth would take this little golden bowls and fill them with incense and the incense would arise as the prayer, a sweet smelling savor before God, so in heaven. Chapter 5 of Revelation, we see it fulfilled in the heavenly scene, as the twenty-four elders offer their little golden bowls full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints.
So a beautiful symbolism there. And so in offering the incense before the altar of incense, which was in the inner court of the temple, in the holy place, not the holy of holies–only the high priest went in there once a year, but the holy place which was just outside of the holy of holies.
And while he was there, the multitude of people were waiting outside. Because it was then customary when he came out to place the blessing of God upon the people. It was a special occasion, and the people would wait for the priest to come out and give them this blessing.
And there appeared onto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said onto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard (Luk 1:11-13);
What prayer? For years he had been praying, “Lord, please give me a son.” It really gives to us encouragement for persistence in prayer. He didn’t give up. Even though he was now old. Well stricken with years. He was still praying, “Oh, Lord, I’d love to have a son.”
thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name, Johanam (Luk 1:13).
Which means the Lord is gracious. It is shortened to John, but the full name is actually Johanam.
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many will rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the side of the Lord, and he shall drink neither wine, nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him [that is the Messiah] in the spirit and in the power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luk 1:14-17).
Now the last word of God to man prior to this was in Malachi, the fourth chapter. And the last word of God to man was in Malachi 4:5, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
That was the last word of God to man in the old covenant period, prior to the angel meeting Zacharias there at the altar of the Lord. And it is interesting though the Lord has been silent for four hundred years, that very promise, which was the last promise of the old testament, is the first word of the Lord in the new testament, which is the fulfillment of that prophesy, which is about to take place, as this child that will be born, will go forth in the spirit and in the power of Elijah.
Now there is a lot of confusion as regards to John the Baptist, and the prophesy of the coming of Elijah. In John’s gospel we are told that as John was baptizing at the Jordan River, the Pharisees came out and they demanded of him his authority, and who gave him the authority to do these things. They said, “Are you the Messiah?” He said, “No.” They said, “Are you Elijah?” He said, “No.” “Then who are you?” He said, “I am just the voice of one crying in the wilderness; prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His path” (John 1:20-23).
And yet, here the angel of the Lord tells his father that he will be going forth in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah.
Now the confusion exists in the fact that there were two comings of the Messiah. The first coming that we find recorded here in the gospel. The second coming for which we presently wait. And even as Elijah will appear before Jesus comes again. So John the Baptist came in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah. And if a person is able to accept it, he was the fulfillment of that promise of Elijah coming before the Lord, to cause the hearts of the children to turn to their fathers, and their fathers to their children.
So the confusion lies in the fact that there are two comings of the Messiah, as well as the two comings of Elijah, both of them to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.
He shall be great in the sight of the Lord. He was to be as a Nazarene. Not drinking wine or strong drink, but filled with the Holy Spirit, from his mother’s womb.
In a little bit we will be studying where Mary, when she received word that she was to be the instrument through which the Messiah was to be born, went to this little village of Juda, the home of Elisabeth, who at that point was six months pregnant. And when Mary walked in and greeted Elisabeth, Elisabeth felt the baby leap in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
So at that time, no doubt, John was also filled with the Holy Spirit, a prenatal experience, which is quite interesting indeed. Even from his mother’s womb.
Now though Zacharias had been praying that he might have a son, the prayers had not really been prayers of faith anymore, just of a hardly even a glimmering hope. Because when this angel told him that he was to have a son, he didn’t believe it. And he challenged the angel.
Zacharias said onto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years. And the angel answering said onto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I’ve been sent to speak to thee, and to show thee this glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season (Luk 1:18-20).
It is interesting to me that we so often put such great emphasis upon our faith that God will do a certain thing. As though God is almost impotent apart from man’s faith, to operate, or to work. But here with Zacharias, the angel said, “Alright, you want a sign? You’re not going to be able to speak until the day the child is born, because you didn’t believe.”
The things that God is going to perform, whether you believe it or not, God is going to do it. Your unbelief will not stop the work of God. It will not hinder the purposes of God. And so many times they put heavy trips on us. You know, as though God’s work is totally responsible upon my hanging in there and believing, and I feel so guilty because maybe I failed God, and thus, people are lost, or whatever, because I failed God. No, God’s purposes shall stand, whether I believe it or not. You see, your believing or not believing doesn’t really hinder the work of God. He is going to do what He is going to do, in spite of us. And that’s sort of comforting, because I’d hate to think that God’s work depended on me and my faithfulness.
You remember when the children of Israel were threatened with extinction because of Haman’s getting the king to sign the degree that all the Jews were to be put to death on a certain day. And Mordecai sent a message to Esther that she should go in before the king and plead the cause of her people. And she responded, “You just don’t do that, that’s not the protocol of the court. Even as his wife I can’t go in there anytime I want to see him. I can’t go in there unless he calls me in. And if anyone would there to go in before the king, not being called, you’re putting your own life in jeopardy. Because if he doesn’t raise the scepter, they’ll put you to death immediately. And so Mordecai sent an answer back, “Do you think that if this degree goes through that you’re going to escape? How do you know, Esther, but what God didn’t bring you to the kingdom for just this purpose?” And then he said, “If you altogether fail, then their deliverance will arise from another corner.” God is going to deliver His people. His purposes are going to stand. God is going to deliver His people. But you will lose out completely.
Now God’s work is going to be done. You may lose out on those rewards and blessings that you could have experienced, had you’ve been faithful. But your unfaithfulness is not going to stop that which God has purposed to do.
And so here is Zacharias, filled with unbelief. “How can I know this? I am old man, my wife is an old woman. What do you mean I am going to have a son?” ” I am Gabriel.”
The last appearance of Gabriel to our knowledge on the earth was about a little over five hundred years prior to this particular event, when Gabriel appeared to the prophet Daniel and gave to Daniel one of the clearest prophesies concerning the time of the coming of the Messiah. It was Gabriel who said unto Daniel that there are seventy sevens determined upon the nation of Israel, to finish the transgression, to make an end of iniquity. To bring in the everlasting righteousness. To anoint the most holy place. To complete the prophetic picture. And no one understand from the time the commandment goes forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, to the coming of the Messiah, the prince, will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. The walls should be built again in troublous times. And after the sixty-nine sevens will the Messiah be caught off, and receive nothing for Himself, and the people will be dispersed.
And so this amazing prediction of the time of the coming of the Messiah was given by none other than our friend Gabriel. Sort of a timeless fellow, because now it’s over five hundred years later, and he shows up on the scene again. Probably looking as young and fresh as ever. Announcing now to Zacharias that his wife Elisabeth was to bear the son, which was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, as he will go forth in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah to fulfill the prophesy of sending the messenger before the face of the Lord.
It would appear that as God has set in order the things of the universe, that He probably placed Gabriel as the overseer in charge of the details of getting His Son into the world. Preparing the people on the earth, preparing Mary, because it was Gabriel who appeared to Mary. Preparing here Zacharias. It would seem that he has a hard time keeping secrets. He appeared five hundred years earlier and spilled the beans to Daniel of a time that the Messiah would be coming. And so here he is again, some five hundred years later. It will be interesting to meet Gabriel, looking young and fresh as ever, as he is one of those special angels that God has committed great responsibilities to. And I for one am quite anxious to meet Gabriel. Now, I don’t expect him to sit on my bed and pet my dog. And for you who have read that book, you know what I am talking about.
Now the people waited for Zacharias, [They were waiting outside for that blessing from the priest.] and they marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and so they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them, and he remained speechless. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house (Luk 1:21-23).
So, because they only served for a week at the time. In just a few days he left there, Jerusalem, and went to Judea, which is nearby Jerusalem, actually.
And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and she hid herself for five months, saying, Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach from among men (Luk 1:24-25).
Her inability to bear children caused her to be a reproach. But the Lord, she says, has taken that away.
And in the sixth month [the same fellow] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin who was espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary (Luk 1:26-27).
Three terms we need to deal with: engaged, espoused, and married. A person could become engaged when they were two years old, because for the most part, marriage was by arrangement. So parents would get together, they would be friends. You have a pretty little girl, your friends would have a nice little boy, and we’re friends with each other, why don’t we have your son marry my daughter? And we make the arrangements. And so here these little kids, they are four years old, walking around saying, “Well, we’re engaged.” Because the arrangements had been made by their parents that they would have each other as husband and wife. They felt that decisions as important as marriage should never be left to the capriciousness of youth. They felt that young people didn’t have enough wisdom to choose their mates.
Now as they became older, and usually they were married by the age of fifteen or sixteen years old. And as they became older, one year before they had the marriage ceremony, they entered into a period known as espousal, where they were as though they were married, in that they were committed completely to each other, but there was never a consummation of the marriage during this period of time. However, once they entered into the period of espousal, they were considered married to the extent that if the fellow wanted to break it off, he had to actually get a divorce, even though the marriage at this point had never been consummated.
So Mary and Joseph were in this period of espousal. Where they were totally committed to each other and to the marriage of each other, and yet, the marriage was not to be consummated until the ceremony at a later time.
And so, “To the virgin who was espoused,” she was in this period of the one year before the actual consummation of the marriage, “to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
And the angel Gabriel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at what he was saying, and thought in her mind what kind of a greeting is this. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jehoshua (Luk 1:28-31).
Which in Greek is Jesus, but in Hebrew Jehoshua, which means, Jehovah is salvation.
Now you remember in Matthew’s gospel when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, and he was really troubled by it, because they were espoused. He thought he might just give her a bill of divorcement, put her away privately, because if he would her expose her publicly she’d be stoned to death. And the angel of the Lord came to Joseph at night and said, “Fear not to take Mary as your wife. That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit, and thou shalt call His name Jehoshua” (Matthew 1:20-21). So both Mary and Joseph were instructed by the angel of the Lord in the naming of Jesus. But when he told Joseph, “Call his name Jehoshua,” he said, “For He shall save His people from their sins.”
So the name is extremely significant because it expresses the mission of Jesus, and that is bringing God’s salvation to men. Jehoshua, the Lord is become our salvation.
Then the angel Gabriel went on to say,
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of His father David (Luk 1:32):
And, of course, throughout the Old Testament prophesies, there was that promise that the Messiah would sit upon the throne of David, to order it, and to establish it in righteousness and in judgment, from henceforth, even forever.
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luk 1:33).
In the book of Revelation, again, that glorious song that Handel has put to music, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords, forever and ever, hallelujah, hallelujah.”
So the angel is telling about the eternal reign of Jesus Christ.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (Luk 1:34)
Now there is a vast difference between the question of Zacharias and the question of Mary. Zacharias was questioning the word of the Lord. Mary was only asking information on the procedures. “How is this to be, seeing I know not a man?” Hers was not the question of doubt. Hers was only an inquiring question as to the manner by which it should be fulfilled. She believed. And that is pointed out a little later as Elisabeth said, “Blessed art thou who hast believed the words that the Lord spoke to thee.”
She believed the word that the Lord spoke to her. However, she didn’t know by what process it was to be fulfilled, and that really was her question. “How is this going to be, seeing I am a virgin, I know not a man?”
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy one which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month of her pregnancy, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her (Luk 1:35-38).
There is sometimes within the Protestant circles, perhaps a backlash to that position that the Catholics have sought to place Mary in as the intercessor, and even some today, the co-redemptress, and there is that backlash among Protestants, oftentimes, to sort of put Mary down. However, as the angel said unto her that she was highly favored, that the Lord was with her and she was blessed among women. Surely when God chose an instrument by which to send His Son into the world, I am certain that He chose an instrument that He has thoroughly prepared. And I believe that Mary must have been one of the most beautiful of character of any woman who has ever lived. And I think that we can demonstrate this actually in the text. That she was a extremely unique individual.
Now remember it is possible that at this point she was only about sixteen years old. And yet, there is such a depth of character that is demonstrated in her. And it begins right here as when the angel tells her all of these remarkable, unusual things that are bound to create problems, as they did with Joseph her espoused husband, she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.” With other words, she submitted herself to the purpose of God. “Here I am, let the Lord do as He pleases in my life.” That kind of commitment. And I am just intrigued. And Mary is another one that I want to meet. What an unusually remarkable person. Surely the most blessed of any woman who has ever lived.
Now culturally it was the dream, the hope, the desire of every Jewish girl to be the instrument through which God would send the Messiah into the world. And thus, many young Jewish girls, when they had a boy born to them, would call his name Joshua. Hoping that maybe God would use that child to be the instrument of His salvation. And that was a reason, one of the reasons why being barren was considered such a curse. You have no opportunity to be the mother of the Messiah if you are barren. And that was the hope of every young Jewish girl to be the instrument that God would use, the dream, the hope. And with Elisabeth being barren, she had lost that hope. And, of course, everyone who was barren, they would lose the hope. “Oh, I can’t be the instrument.” And that was a very disappointing thing to them, to feel, “I can’t be the instrument that God uses to accomplish His purpose.”
Oh, that we would be concerned about being the instrument though which God accomplishes His purposes. Today, the Drews are very interesting people. They have an interesting religion that really they don’t even know what it is. In the Drews religion, it’s a break off from the Moslems, but only their priests know what they believe; the people don’t know what they believe. And the priest does the whole religious bit for them. They know they are Drews, and they know that this is their religion and all, but only the priests know what it’s all about. And they know what they believe, but the people don’t. And many of the men, though, are priests. And as you go through the Drews’ villages today, you will see these men wearing these pants with these large pouches in the front. For one of the things that the Drews do believe is that when the Messiah comes, He will be born of a man. And so going through their villages, and it’s fascinating to go through the Drews’ villages, and see these huge baggy pants in the front, these sacks that hang down in the front, and these man wear these in case they are the one that God chooses to send the Messiah through him.
In other words, they are they ones that get pregnant with the Messiah, and so they are prepared for it by wearing these pants with these large baggy things in the front. They are all set for their pregnancies. They already got their maternity clothes.
But such was the hope of every young girl in Israel. And the fulfillment of that hope came to one, a young girl from Nazareth. A beautiful young girl in character and spirit named Mary.
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, to the city of Juda; and she entered into the house of Zacharias, and she greeted Elisabeth (Luk 1:39-40).
That word saluted is an old English word, and it actually means greeted. In the marriage ceremony they used to say, “You may now salute your bride.” But during World War II, too many of the guys were not really understanding the old English word salute, and so it’s now something that you say, “You may now kiss your bride.”
So she entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elisabeth.
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the [greeting] salutations of Mary, that the baby leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as I heard the voice of your greeting sounding in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believes: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord (Luk 1:41-45).
I suppose that this would be an appropriate place to talk about abortion.
There was John the Baptist six months along, and yet, there was some kind of a recognition, for when Mary spoke, he responded it to it in the womb.
We are told that as the child is in the womb, that it begins to understand and to recognize voices. That you pregnant mothers should talk to your child. For if you are talking to them while you are still pregnant, they will be comforted by your voice after they are born, because they have learned to recognize it. More and more are we discovering interesting facets of that fetal development. And here at six months with John there was that capacity to leap for joy in his mother’s womb when he heard the voice of Mary.
Now remember she is speaking by the Holy Spirit. And thus, we have the word of the Holy Spirit that the child leaped for joy, at the word of Mary.
We talked a little bit this morning about what factors are considered in determining what is right and what is wrong in our present society. And the effect that the philosophy has had upon our entire culture. The idea that the morees determine in a society what is accepted and unacceptable behavior. What is good, what is bad, what is right, and what is wrong. And in this particular philosophical determination, if enough people within a society began to practice a certain thing, it becomes then socially acceptable, or it becomes good, or becomes right, because that is determined by the mores of the society itself. Accepting that God does not exist, because it has to come from a totally humanistic base. God does not exist. And therefore, there is no godly standard for right or wrong. And in as much as there is no goodly standard for right or wrong, right or wrong is determined strictly by the practices, the mores of a particular society. And the sociologists will show that there are societies where the father has nothing to do with the children. And so in that society it is perfectly alright as the uncle takes the father role within the home. There are societies where they have a plurality of wives, or a plurality of husbands. And because it’s the accepted practice of the society, no one thinks wrong of it or thinks it’s bad or evil, and because the mores determine what is right and what is wrong. So you get enough people doing something, and suddenly it becomes right. And so we get enough abortions, killing millions of innocent babies, but it’s alright because it has become part of the mores. No one is supposed to say anything against it.
I have a hard time handling my emotions around a child. I become foolish. I try to come to their level a bit to communicate with them. I am so fascinated with children. I love children so much. I love little boys, and I love little girls. And to me there is nothing more enjoyable than communicating with children. Seeing their responses. I love to study their faces. I love to study their habits. I love to study just children. I can hold them and just look at them for hours on end, watching them, watching the changing expressions and all. I love to see them develop and grow. That is why I have such tremendous difficulty with child abuse. Where an adult would deliberately abuse a little child. Hurt it, damage it, beat it, destroy it. And unfortunately, it is a rising, increasing problem in our society.
In fact, in L. A. County this year there have been more murders of infants than any time in the history of L. A. It’s at record heights. Babies that are beaten to death, they are drowned, or suffocated, abused. It’s reached record proportions this year. And I have such difficulty with this. My body begins to recoil. I have to put it out of my mind, because I just can’t think about to long, it just affects me too deeply. But I wonder if much of this isn’t attributed to the fact that we’ve began to put a cheaper value on life by the legalizing of abortion. You see, it’s alright to abuse the child, as long as it hasn’t been born yet. But if it is alright to abuse that child because it really doesn’t understand much, it hasn’t been born yet, then I wonder if the next step, it, well, it doesn’t really understand too much of what’s going on, so what difference does it make if you abuse the child? Because it doesn’t really know or understand much yet. Whether or not that has anything to do with it, all I know is that with cheapening of the value of life, it seems to be following through all the segments of our society. And I think that we have some extremely dangerous sociological implications that will arise, from some of these humanistic, liberal legislative decisions that are being made. And I only say that to warn you. I don’t think we’re going to have to deal with it too long. I don’t think God will allow things to go on much longer; I would be very shocked if He does.
All I can say, if I was the Lord, I would have closed it down a long time ago.
Now Elisabeth said onto her,
Blessed is she that believed (Luk 1:45):
for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said (Luk 1:45-46),
And here we now get an insight into the beautiful depth of this young girl, as she began to just worship the Lord.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. For his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. For he hath shown strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud and the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He’s helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; And as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever [in a reference to the promise of God to Abraham, that through thy seed all nations of the earth will be blessed]. And Mary stayed with her for about three months (Luk 1:46-56),
Probably until the time that John was born.
and then she returned to her own house (Luk 1:56).
Probably stayed to help during this period of pregnancy.
Now she speaks here, beginning with verse 51, of the revolution that God creates. First of all, “He has scattered the proud and the imagination of their hearts.” And so the first revolution is really an individual revolution of God scattering the proud. The second, “He put down the might from their thrones, and exalted them of low degree.” And then thirdly, “Filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty,” an economic revolution.
Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shown great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eight day they came to circumcise the child; they called him Zacharias, after his father. But his mother answered and said, Not so; he shall be called Johanan [God is gracious]. And they said unto her, There is none of your family that is called by that name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him to be named. He asked for a writing tablet, and he wrote, saying, His name is John [or Johanan]. And all of them marveled (Luk 1:57-63).
Now when a woman was in labor, the neighbors would begin to gather, they would bring their musical instruments, and they would bring food and they prepare for a great party when the child was born. And when the child was born, and they would say, “It’s a boy,” the musicians would start playing, and they all dance, and they would have a big party. If when the child was born, and they said, “It’s a girl,” they take their musical instruments, fold them up, and go home.
In those days it was considered a great blessing to have a boy born in the home. But girls were sort of disregarded. It took really the teachings of Jesus Christ to elevate women to their proper level. Placing upon them that glory, honor that they deserve.
You women should be extremely thankful for Jesus Christ. All you have to do is go into a culture where the gospel of Christ has not had a strong influence, and look at the role of the woman, and you will appreciate more and more what Jesus Christ has done for you.
Look at the Bedouin society, look at the Indian culture, look at the culture of those people in New Guinea. Read the book, Lords of the Earth, it’s a tremendous sociological insight into the culture of the New Guineans before the coming of Christianity. You’ll really appreciate what Jesus Christ has done, in His elevation of womanhood, to its beautiful, proper place.
Now as soon as he had written on the tablet, his name is John,
His mouth was opened, and his tongue was loosed, and he spoke, and praised God. And fear came on all those that dwelled about them: and all of these sayings were noised abroad throughout all of the hill country of Judea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What kind of a kid is this going to be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luk 1:64-67),
Now Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary greeted her. Now Zacharias is filled with the Holy Spirit,
and he prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he has visited and redeemed his people (Luk 1:67-68),
Blessing God for, first of all, the fact that God has visited His people. Jesus Christ is God, manifested in the flesh. And through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as he is prophesying, the first declaration is that God, the Lord God of Israel, has visited His people. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God. The same was in the beginning with God, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-2, 14).
He visited His people. But the purpose of His visit was redemption. He was visited and redeemed His people. Jesus, in announcing His purpose, declared, “For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Redemption, the purpose of the coming of Christ. The Lord has raised up a power of salvation. The horn was always symbolic of power. And so He’s raised up the power to salvation in the house of His servant David.
Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ: it is the power of God unto salvation to those that believe” (Romans 1:16).
The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness, but unto us who are saved, thereby it is the power of God.
Oh, blessed be God. He has visited His people. God has come to bring redemption, to give power for salvation through the house of His servant David.
As he spoke by the mouth of the holy prophets, which have been since the world began (Luk 1:70):
Recognizing that the prophesies concerning the Savior, concerning the Messiah, have been in existence from the beginning of men’s existence from the beginning of the fall, actually from the time of the fall, when God said to the woman, “Cursed be the serpent. Crawl upon the earth.” But then He said that the seed of the woman will bruise his head. That sin would be destroyed by the seed of the woman. Blessed be God, He has brought now the power of salvation. He has redeemed through the seed of the woman, through the virgin-born child.
For God is performing the mercies that he has promised to our fathers, and he is remembering his holy covenant; the oath which he swore to our father Abraham (Luk 1:72-73),
“Through thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear (Luk 1:74),
Salvation is more than being saved from. Yes, God has delivered us from the hand of our enemy, but He has saved us for the purpose that we might serve Him, without fear.
In holiness and in righteousness (Luk 1:75)
Now both holiness and righteousness have as their root idea that of being right. But holiness is a rightness of character, whereas righteousness is a rightness in conduct. But the one springs out of the other. Holiness is the root. Righteousness is the fruit that springs forth from the root. The difficulty that so many people have today is their endeavor to be right without holiness. But ultimately, any endeavor to be right will break down, for there is no motive strong enough to maintain righteousness, other than holiness. You’ve got to be pure at the core. You’ve got to have the holiness, the right attitude, if you are to have the right actions or activities.
And so it is God’s purpose, first of all, that we walk before Him, or serve Him in holiness. That God does that work within our heart, changing our character, our life, in order that we might also serve Him in righteousness.
The Pharisees had a system of righteousness apart from holiness, and it was total failure. And Jesus remarked on the failure. He said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you’re not going to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). So to the disciples that must have been one of the most shocking statements that Jesus had ever made. Because who was more right, who did the things more right than did the Pharisees? And yet, unless your righteousness exceeds those, you’re not going to make it, Jesus said. Why? Because theirs was a righteousness without holiness. It wasn’t from the heart. Their attitudes were stinking according to Jesus.
“The outside you’re like a whitened sepulchre, but inside dead man’s smelly bones. The outside of the platter is all clean, but the inside of the cup is filled with vermon. You may clean the outside, but the inside you have a righteousness without holiness, totally unaccepted. And unless your righteousness exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees, you are not going to make into the kingdom of heaven.” Because you have to have a righteousness that springs from holiness. The holiness of character. And God’s purpose that we serve Him in holiness and in righteousness,
all the days of our life (Luk 1:75).
And now addressing the child. This is a prophecy concerning the one that the child is to go before, but concerning the child himself, little John lying there.
And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest (Luk 1:76):
Jesus said, of all the prophets born of woman, there hasn’t been a greater one than arise than John. “Thou shalt be called the prophet of the Highest.”
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation onto his people, by the remission of their sins. Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the sunrising from on high hath visited us [Or the dayspring, or the sunrising, or the rising of the sun], to give light to those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace [again referring to Christ] (Luk 1:76-79).
God, by His tender mercy, has sent the sunrise from on high to visit us, that He might give us light, for those who are sitting in darkness, and in the shadows. That He might guide our feet in the way of peace. Peace with God.
And so the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his showing onto Israel (Luk 1:80).
Now it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And the taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syra.) And all went to be taxed, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, and unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and the lineage of David,) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, who at this point was great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should deliver her child. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luk 2:1-7).
“And it came to pass in those days…” Those were the days when the Roman Empire was being formed. Originally the Roman Empire was ruled by several generals, but gradually the power began more and more to be invested into one man, until finally Gaius Octavius gained control. He took the name Caesar from his uncle by adoption. And the name Augustus was given to him by the Roman senate when he gained power. When finally he was able to gain control and one man began to rule over Rome, the senate determined to give him some title, and they first suggested that they call him the king of Rome. And he rejected that title. Then they said, “We’ll call you the dictator of Rome.” And he didn’t like that. And so finally they came up this title Augustus, which has as its background, though, of the god’s. He said, “I like that.” And so he was called Caesar Augustus. This man was the most powerful man on the face of the earth.
“It came to pass in those days, that there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed, and every man went to be taxed.” Think of the power. Here is a guy sitting in Rome. Gradually he has gained this position of power, until he is able to issue a decree, and immediately the whole world must bow. There is no one to appeal to. One man makes a decree; the whole world must bow to that decree. For Rome had bludgeoned the world into submission.
It came to pass in those days that the temple of Janice was closed. Janice was the god of war. And whenever the Roman troops were out in the fields to battle, the temple gates would be open that the people might come in and pray for victory for their troops. But the gates were closed, for there was peace. For sixteen years the gates had been closed.
You say, “Oh what a beautiful time for the Prince of peace to be born.” But think again. There was peace only because Rome was such a powerful ruling force that no man dared to say that his life was his own. Every man was a slave to Rome. World ruled by one man. This is what Caesar had sought to obtain. And he gave a decree.
It is interesting that in Egypt we have actually found records of these censuses that were made by the Roman government. They were made every fourteen years. And we have found the records of those censuses that were taken in Egypt every fourteen years.
In a little province of Rome, far off from Rome and the Roman capital, in a little city called Nazareth, of which hardly anybody had heard of it, there was a young couple, they were both of the house of David. And when the decree came from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed–enrolled in the census, actually for taxation–they, too, had to submit to this Augustus Caesar, and in order for them to enroll in the census, they had to go back to their family home, city of Bethlehem. And interestingly enough, in Egypt there are records that they have discovered where it said that the people had to return to their family homes for the census to be taken, completely confirming this account in the scriptures.
And so it was necessary that at this point of pregnancy, which becomes quite miserable, as in the final days of waiting the birth of the child, so many things are happening within as far as the hormones are concerned, and there are so many physical responses and reactions, and yet, because this fellow in Rome has given a decree, Mary and Joseph, not withstanding her pregnancy, have to make this long journey. Long in those days, because of the mode of transportation. Something like seventy miles or so from Nazareth to Bethlehem, just to fulfill the commandment, just in obedience to the commandment of this fellow in Rome.
“And so it came to pass, that Joseph went up out of the city of Nazareth, there in Galilee, clear on down to Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled, or taxed with Mary his espoused wife being great with child. And while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, laid Him in a manger. There was no room in the inn.”
Interesting…if you were God, where would you have your Son to be born? Interesting that when God came to visit the earth, there was no room for Him in the inn. Sort of a precursor of His entire life, I guess. For even today there are people who refuse to make room for Him. They have room and time for just about everything but Him. It seems that He is still consigned to a position outside of the general society. But there is something more to this, that’s looking at it from a human standpoint. Let’s go up a bit and look down. Interesting what you can see when you draw back a bit, and get a little broader prospective.
Seven hundred years before this event took place, before this young couple made their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, at this critical point of pregnancy. Seven hundred years earlier a prophet had said, “And thou Bethlehem, though you are little among the provinces in Judea, yet out of thee shall come He whose goings forth has been from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). The prophet had predicted that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah.
So when I read in the text, “It came to pass in those days that Caesar Augustus gave a decree that all the world shall be taxed,” and Joseph had to journey to Bethlehem in order to be taxed, I realize that because the Word of God had said that the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem, that it isn’t really that little man sitting on the throne in Rome that is really in control of things, he is only a puppet. He has not gained what he desired–world rulership–but that child that is being born in Bethlehem is the one who will ultimately experience true hegemony.
You see, God had a problem. Mary and Joseph were clear up in Nazareth, and yet, the prophecy said the child had to be born in Bethlehem. Now no couple in their right mind are going to make that journey all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem at this point of pregnancy. So God has to somehow get them down to Bethlehem. How are we going to work out this problem? God begins to pull the strings, and Caesar Augustus says, “Let’s enroll all the world for taxing, let it be done.” The decree of Caesar. “Yes, sir.” Here he thinks he is in control, but in reality he is only responding in order that God’s purposes, which had been declared seven hundred years earlier, might be fulfilled. That Mary and Joseph might get to Bethlehem before the birth of that child.
There is a lot of aloneness expressed in this. She brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. Evidently she had no help at the birth of the child. Usually there was a midwife to take the child and to wrap it in its swaddling clothes and to take care of it. But no help. And so she herself–you remember now, sixteen and a half, seventeen years old, giving birth to a child in a manger, a stable. The place where they kept the animals. But that child is the fulfillment of God’s promise. For He is God, who has come to visit men, to redeem him.
Oh, what a story.
Now there were in the same country shepherds who were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night (Luk 2:8).
Just a point–this means that He couldn’t have been born on the twenty-fifth of December, because it gets too cold for the shepherds to stay out in the field in the winter month. And so the twenty-fifth of December was borrowed from the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, and more and more it is becoming a pagan holiday, which it originated as. I wonder how long we as Christians can continue to even observe the sham of December 25th.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid (Luk 2:9).
It is thought that the shepherds were perhaps the temple shepherds, because they offered a lamb every morning and every evening, and had to be without spot and blemish. And so, in order that they would have enough lambs for the sacrifices, they had their own temple shepherds who kept the lambs for the temple sacrifices. And it is thought by many that these shepherds were those who were watching those lambs that were to be used for sacrifices in the temple. And if so, of course significant, because they were the first ones to see the Lamb of God who was to take away the sins of the world.
And so they were out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. When the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were so afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people (Luk 2:10).
Good tidings, great joy, all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour [the Messiah], the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And so it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into the heavens, the shepherds said one to another, Let’s go now even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us (Luk 2:11-15).
The angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds. I think the angel was Gabriel. I don’t have any proof for that, just a strong hunch. Because we already know he can’t keep a secret, and we already know that he had quite a bit to do with making the arrangements for the birth of the child. And now that his job is pretty much complete, the child is there, it’s safely born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, his job is over. The child had his first cry and gone asleep there in the manger, and I finished my task. It’s over. The most exciting event in the history of the world has just taken place. God has taken on a human form that He might visit men to redeem him.
Oh, what news everybody ought to know. But nobody is awake. All the lights are out; the candles are all blown out all over Bethlehem. And so as Gabriel is observing the whole scene, he sees a flicker of a fire out towards Jerusalem. All right. And he goes over and finally got someone awake. “Hey, guys, great news! Today in the city of David, He is there, the Savior, Christ the Lord, the Messiah, you’ll find Him. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and He is lying in an manger.”
And then, of course, there were other angels that suddenly appear, as they were praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth…now the possibility of peace, and good will toward men.”
Exciting scenes. I never tire of them.
And so they came with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when the eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus (Luk 2:16-21),
They usually named the boy on the day of the circumcision, which was always eight days after his birth, and it was such an important right, that even if it came on the Sabbath, they would go ahead and circumcise the child on the eighth day. It was one of the rare things that they would be allowed to do on even the Sabbath day.
The called His name Jehoshua,
which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished (Luk 2:21-22),
She had a son; she had to go through forty days of purification. If she had a daughter, she would have gone through eighty days of purification. Sort of a punishment for having a girl. Forty days of purification were accomplished.
then they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord (Luk 2:22);
Now after the forty days, then they were to offer a sacrifice unto the Lord. A lamb and a dove. Or if they were poor, instead of the lamb, they could offer two turtledoves.
(For it was written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb should be called holy onto the Lord;) (Luk 2:23)
Actually, the Lord claimed the firstborn. But it came to the place were the people could redeem the firstborn, and God finally chose the Levi’s. And they would then pay the Levi’s for the firstborn, redeeming their firstborn for being committed for serving the Lord. But they brought the firstborn, holy to the Lord.
And that to offer the sacrifice according to the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves (Luk 2:24),
That was for the poor people, and so it would indicate that Mary and Joseph were poor. Which to me is interesting, because Jesus perhaps grew up in a home filled with poverty. And he knows what it was to have those kind of struggles that we have, as we think about the payment of the bills, and where we’re going to get this and that and the other, and thus, He can identify with us in our concerns for our needs.
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and he was a just and a devout man, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel [the peace]: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not die, until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah (Luk 2:25-26).
Now here is a man who walked with God. An godly older man, and God said, “Look, you’re not going to die until you have had the opportunity to see the Messiah.”
And so he was lead by the Spirit at that time into the temple: and when the parents of Jesus brought him in, in order that they might fulfill the customs of the law, he took him up in his arms, and he blessed God, and he said, Oh Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word: for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten [who?] the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Luk 2:27-32).
So here in the prophecy it was to be a light, not just to Israel alone, but to the world, to the gentiles.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of the child. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall in the rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also;) that the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed (Luk 2:33-35).
And so he is telling Mary, “Look, this child is set for great blessings to the people, but it’s going to pierce as a sword through your own soul.” Preparing her for the agony and the pain that she would experience, as she would watch one day this child, hanging on the cross.
Now there was a lady by the name of Anna, who was a prophetess, she was the daughter Phanuel, she was of the tribe of Asher: she was of great age, [actually she was eighty-four years old] and she lived with the same husband from the seven years after her period (Luk 2:36);
When a girl began her menstrual period, seven years after she had began her menstrual period, she was married, and she lived with that same man all this time, that’s what it is saying. The way it is written it’s a little hard to understand. She had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity. And so that is from the time that she had began her menstrual period, seven years from that time, she got married and lived with this man the whole while. She was now eighty-four years old.
and she departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings, and prayers night and day (Luk 2:37).
One of those beautiful, godly saints.
And she coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise to the Lord, and spoke of him to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Now when they had performed all of the things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom to the feast (Luk 2:38-42).
Probably the first time He was able to go to the feast, because He was now twelve and getting time for His bar mitzvah.
And so when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning (Luk 2:43),
That is, the days of the feast of the Passover, they went every year; they were a devout couple as they had fulfilled the days, they returned.
and the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother did not know of it (Luk 2:43).
Now hundreds of people would travel together. And usually the women would take of first because they traveled slower. And the men would take off later, and would always catch up with them by night; they make camp for the evening. And so they took of for Nazareth with all of their friends and the families, and all. And when they started making camp at night, and Joseph probably caught up with them, he said, “Where is Jesus?” And she said, “Well, isn’t He with you?” “No, I thought He was with you.” And so they looked around. They inquired from all of the relatives, “No, we haven’t seen Him.” And so they each thought that He was probably in the company of people.
and when they sought for him among the kinsfolk and their acquaintances, no one had seen Him. So when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for Him (Luk 2:44-45).
Now here is a little twelve-year-old fellow. He thinks, “Oh, my, my parents are gone,” and he be all concerned and worried.
And it came to pass, after three days they found him (Luk 2:46),
They didn’t find Him when they first got back. And when they found Him, he was in the temple.
sitting in the midst of the doctors, as he was listening to them and asking them questions. And all of those that heard him were astonished at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why have you dealt with us like this? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing (Luk 2:46-48).
Notice, “your father and I,” referring to Joseph. He is quick to correct her.
And he said unto them, How is it that you were looking for me? did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business? (Luk 2:49)
He didn’t recognize Joseph as His father at this point. “I must be about my Father’s business.”
Now these are the first recorded words of Jesus. They are important, because they express the purpose of His existence. What is it? “I must be about my Father’s business.”
Now I hear a lot of people say, “Oh, I know I ought to be doing that.” That doesn’t carry much force. Because we ought to be doing a lot of things we don’t do. “Oh, I know I should, I really should.” That doesn’t carry much force.
But when a person says, “I must.” Listen, because now you are getting close to the real heart of the life. “I must be about my Father’s business.” That was the burden of the life of Jesus, to do the Father’s will. “I must be about my Father’s business.”
And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. But he went down with them, and they came to Nazareth, and he was subject unto them: but his mother kept all of these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, [grew up strong, big fellow] and in favor with God and man (Luk 2:50-52).
So in the first two chapters get the background now, and in chapter 3 we begin with the ministry of John the Baptist, and that of Jesus.
May the Lord bless and increase your knowledge and understanding of His truth, as we have this opportunity of sharing together in God’s Word, growing, and learning. And may we also be increased in wisdom and in favor with God, and with man.
Shall we turn to Luke’s gospel chapter 3.
As Luke begins the third chapter, he is giving you the date of the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist, and he uses no less than six historic references points to tell you when John began his ministry.
It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea, and Herod was the tetrarch (Luk 3:1)
And the word “tetrarch” means a ruler of a fourth part. And when Herod the Great died, he left the ruling of that area, they divided it into four, and three of his sons ruled over a part of the area. So a tetrarch was a ruler of a fourth part, and Philip the tetrarch of Iturea, Herod the tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip the tetrarch of Iturea in the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests (Luk 3:1-2),
And so these were the historic dating reference points.
Now we know that Tiberius Ceasar began his reign in the years 13-14. So that in the fifteenth year would make it about the year 29 A.D. that John the Baptist began his ministry.
It is interesting that he lists for us here two high priests, Annas and Caiaphas. The Jews only had one high priest at the time. However, Annas was the high priest for a period of time, around 13-14, but he was replaced by the Roman government. And there followed him three different high priests before the Roman government appointed Caiaphas as the high priest. So that Caiaphas was an appointment of Rome, whereas Annas was recognized by the people as the high priest. And he was the religious leader, where Caiaphas was as was the high priest in those days, a political leader under the appointment of Rome. So there was this period when, oddly enough, there were two high priests. One recognized by the Jews as the legitimate, the other recognized by the Roman government as the political appointee, Caiaphas.
Now when they arrested Jesus, they brought Him to Annas first, because He was still the power. He was the recognized power. And Caiaphas was more less a figurehead, but the recognized power was in Annas the older, the high priest. Caiaphas was actually one of his sons.
Herod being the tetrarch of Galilee, this was Herod Antipas, and we’ll come across him in just a few moments again. And so in this time,
the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness (Luk 3:2).
Now we were introduced to John last Sunday night, and to his miraculous kind of birth, as his mother and father were both of them well stricken in years. And up to this point, Elisabeth his mother had been barren. And the announcement of the angel concerning the birth of the child, who was to be the forerunner of the Messiah.
So now in the year 29, the word of the Lord came unto John.
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sin; as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight (Luk 3:3-4).
Now in those days when the king was to visit a certain area, there would always be couriers that would go out in advance of the king, and the couriers would tell the people, “The king is going to be visiting on such and such a day, clean up your yards, get the trash and all, all taken care of, repair the roads, and all, for the king’s coming.” So that when the king comes, he will see everything in a nice condition, the yard is clean, the trash is all out, and all of the roads repaired, no chuckholes or whatever, so that the king sees that everything’s is going well. And so John is as a courier, telling the people, “Make your path straight, the King is coming.”
Every valley shall be filled, every mountain and hills shall be brought low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth (Luk 3:5);
Preparing the way for the King.
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luk 3:6).
This was the promise that John was giving to the people. As they were to prepare themselves, they would see God’s salvation. And, of course, that was fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
Then he said to the multitude that came forth to be baptized, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Luk 3:7)
Imagine telling that your congregation, people are coming to be converted. And you say, “Oh, you generation of vipers.” Sounds like Romaine almost, doesn’t it? “You sinners, you know.” Romaine is our John.
“Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
Bring forth therefore fruits that are worthy of repentance (Luk 3:8),
Or that demonstrate repentance, let us see your true repentance. Not in the fact that you just being baptized, let’s see it in your actions, let’s see it in your changed lives.
There are many people who, upon the excitement of an emotional moment, will renounce their life of sin, will renounce their past. And will make their vows of, “I am going to be different, I am going to do better. I promise; I swear before God, I am going to be a different man.” Words are cheap. John said, “Let’s see the fruit of it. Let’s see the changes in your life.” And calling for more than just a verbal-type of a commitment, but let’s see the fruit of it in the changed lives.
and don’t say within yourselves, [he said] That we have Abraham as our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham (Luk 3:8).
Now this is the claim of the Jews: “We have Abraham as our father. God gave the covenant to Abraham and to his seed forever. So we are the beneficiaries of God’s grace and covenant to Abraham. We have Abraham; we are the covenant people.” And they rested on that relationship to Abraham. And that was an extremely important thing. In fact, to Jesus, when Jesus was challenging their lifestyles, they said, “We have Abraham as our father.” It was a common saying among the Jews. As they were resting upon the covenant that God had made with Abraham and to his seed forever, and thus, recognizing that covenant they would say, “Well, we have Abraham as our father.” And that was sort of to excuse any kind of a lifestyle I want to live. “Well, I have Abraham as my father, I am under the covenant, and I can live however I please.” And he said, “Hey, don’t try and pass off that we have Abraham as our father bit, because God is able to raise up from stones children for Abraham.” And so he is calling for a true repentance, a changed life, changed actions.
And now also the ax will be laid unto the root of the trees: and every tree which does not bring forth good fruit will be caught down (Luk 3:9),
So he is calling for fruit that show repentance. Let’s see the fruit of it, because every tree that doesn’t bring forth good fruit will be cut down.
and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? (Luk 3:9-10)
And as we find his responses to the questions, we find that John was preaching a social gospel.
He answered and said unto them, If you have two coats, give one of those to someone who doesn’t have any; and if you have extra meat, do the same thing [share your abundance with the needy]. And then the tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you (Luk 3:11-13).
Now the tax collectors were appointees of the Roman government, and their pay was actually the excess taxes that they could collect. The Roman government had the certain standard that they had to collect. I mean that was just the tax due to Rome. But the tax collector would collect his own salary by adding to that tax. And that is why they were extremely hated by the people. They haven’t found much more favor even today. Taxes are always a galling thing. But John is telling them, “Look, don’t collect the extra dividends, just that which is appointed you.”
And the soldiers likewise demanded, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. And as all the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he was the Messiah, or not; John answered them, saying unto them, I indeed baptize you with water; but one who is mightier than I is coming, the latched of whose shoes I am not worthy to untie: and he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable (Luk 3:14-17).
So as they are wondering, “Can this be the Messiah?” John declares unto them that he is really not the Messiah. That there is one that is coming after him who is mightier than he is. John is unworthy to untie His shoes. And though John is baptizing with water, He will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
That baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire has been misunderstood, and as a result, we see a lot of fanaticism that is classified the baptism of fire. If a person, if a preacher in his preaching is very demonstrative, if he is shouting out his message from the top of his lungs, speaking rapidly, and sucking for air, and going on with a lot of movement and a lot of hand waving and a lot of pointing with the fingers and everything else, people say, “Man, he is really got the fire.” That isn’t the fire of the Holy Spirit; that can be fire of human energy, but not the fire of the Holy Spirit. So many times we see untoward type of demonstrations, usually in a violent kind of an emotional way, and people say, “Oh, oh, boy, they really got the fire.” Not of the Holy Spirit.
The fire of the Holy Spirit is always a purging fire, a cleansing fire. You may want to scream, but not in excitement, but in pain, as the fire of the Holy Spirit begins to burn in your heart, because the purpose of that fire is the purging of the dross. It always has as its net result purifying. And in the context here as he speaks of Him baptizing with fire, he declares, “Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.” Now this is the threshing floor.
The fan was the large wide wooden shovel that they would take and take the wheat with the shovel, and they would throw the wheat in the air. And the wind would carry of the chaff, and the wheat would fall back down on the floor. And this was their way of threshing the wheat. Just wait for a windy day, and you go down to your threshing floor. You take what they call the fan, the big wide wooden shovel, and you just take the wheat in the wind, throw it up in the air, and the chaff would blow off, and the wheat would fall down. And you continue this process until you’d separated that little rough bran from the kernel of wheat itself.
And then he declared He will thoroughly cleanse, or purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His silo, in to His garner, but He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.
He, no doubt, is eluding to the first chapter of Psalms, where David talks about the blessed man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law does he meditate day and night. Who will be like a tree, planted by the river of water, bringing forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not withering, and whatsoever he does shall prosper. The wicked though, he said, are not so, but are like the chaff, which the wind driveth away.
So it is again a figure of purging, of cleansing, separating the chaff from the wheat. Separating the dross, the fire from the pure gold. So it is only proper that in context it is explained what is meant by the baptism of the Holy Spirit with fire.
And many other things in his exhortation he preached unto the people. But Herod the tetrarch [Herod Antipas], being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all of the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above everything else, in that he imprisoned John (Luk 3:18-20).
Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great, his brother Philip ruled in the northern part of the province. He had another brother who lived in Rome. Now Herod the Great had many wives, many children. And one of his sons had a daughter named Herodias. Now the Herod who lived in Rome married his half niece Herodias, but when Herod Antipas, the character that we are dealing with in our text, went to Rome, he seduced her into marrying him, leaving his brother, marrying him, and returning with him to reign in Galilee. Which she did. So Herodias left her husband, who was also her step uncle, and she was actually a step sister-in-law to Herod Antipas, and also his step niece, but she became his wife. So it was quite an entangled situation. So your wife is also your niece and your sister-in-law. So John the Baptist dared to speak up against him. Now just didn’t speak up against the rulers. But John being the type that he was, spoke out against this relationship, said, “You have no right having Herodias as your wife, that’s wrong. What you did was wrong.” And so as the result, Herod imprisoned John.
Now when all of the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened (Luk 3:21),
Now Luke’s gospel shows to us more than any of the other gospels the human side of Jesus. John shows us more than any of the other gospels the divine side of Jesus. But Luke points out His humanity. And because Luke is careful to point out the humanity of Jesus, he is also very careful to point out the references where Jesus was praying. And in so many cases we find Luke making mention of the fact that Jesus was praying when certain things transpired. Or before certain decisions were made. And Luke gives us a keener insight into the prayer life of Jesus than any of the other gospels. And rightly so, because of his emphasis upon the human side of the nature of Jesus. And so it is only Luke’s gospel that points out the fact that Jesus was praying when He was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. That as He was baptized, He was praying, and the heavens were opened.
And the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased (Luk 3:22).
And so again, we find the tri-unity of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Jesus, the Son of God, being baptized; the Holy Spirit descending upon Him; and the voice of the Father declaring, “Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased.”
Now there are those people who are known as “Jesus Only.” You don’t run across many of them here in California, they are often called “The United Pentecostals.” There is an awful lot of them back in the southern states, and quite a group of them in Arizona, “The United Pentecostal Church,” or they take some even longer titles, “The United Pentecostal Church in Jesus’ Name,” and different titles. But their chief doctrinal difference is their belief that Jesus is the Father, He is the Holy Spirit, He is the Son, there is only one, and that is Jesus, it’s Jesus only. It’s interesting to bring up this particular verse to them, to hear double talk.
When Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, where did the voice come from? When the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” was Jesus practicing ventriloquism? And they really can dig a hole for themselves on this particular verse. And it’s fun; I do it to tease them every once in a while, watch them dig their hole.
Now Jesus at this point was about thirty years old. How long John was baptizing before Jesus came, we are not informed.
But Jesus at this point being about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the [and this should read,] son-in-law of Heli (Luk 3:23),
For here we obviously have the genealogy of Mary and not of Joseph. In Matthew’s gospel we have the genealogy of Joseph. And in Matthew’s gospel the genealogy begins not with Adam, but with Abraham coming down through David, and from David through Solomon, coming to Jesus Christ. Now here we start with Jesus, and we go back to Adam, not to Abraham. But we go all the way back to Adam. Now you’ll find that the genealogy between Abraham and David is the same. However, in the genealogy here in Luke, rather than coming through Solomon, it comes through Nathan, Solomon’s older brother. And we come to Mary, the mother of Jesus, Joseph, the son-in-law of Heli.
Now why would we have two genealogies for Jesus differing? And if Joseph isn’t the father of Jesus, then what is the value of putting Joseph’s genealogy in the record? If He was born of the virgin Mary, I can understand Mary’s genealogy. Let it be said that the person’s genealogy was an important document in that person’s life among the Jews. God had a special purpose for the Jewish nation. That special purpose was that they were to bring the Messiah into the world. And thus, as God established His covenant with them, and His law, He incorporated within that law and within that covenant a very close guarding of the race itself. And the prohibitions against inner racial marriages, because God was seeking to keep a line from Abraham and David to the Messiah. For anyone to declare themselves to be the Messiah they must prove that they are descendents of Abraham, and descendents of David, because God promised to both Abraham, and to David that from their seed the nations of the world would be blessed.
God said to David, “I will build thee a house, and there will always be one sitting upon the throne.” And He was referring to the Messiah. So that the Messiah has to be able to prove.
Now there in the time of the return from the captivity in Babylon, Ezra and Nehemiah, there were certain men who said, “Well, we’re of the house of Levi, we want to exercise the office of the priesthood.” And so they said, “Alright, show us your genealogy.” And these fellows were unable to produce their genealogies. They had been lost in Babylon. And because they could not produce their genealogies proving that they were of the tribe of Levi, they were not allowed into the priesthood. Only those that could bring out their genealogy, and prove that they were from the tribe of Levi. And so it was an extremely important thing to those people to maintain the records, the family records of their genealogies, in order that they might prove what family, what line they came from. It was especially important for the Messiah.
Now it would immediately put a disclaimer upon anyone today claiming to be the Messiah, because no one today has their records that can take them back to Abraham and David. So anyone who would come along saying, “I am the Messiah” would have no ability to prove that claim, inasmuch, there are no more records that would trace them back through Abraham and David.
Now why Joseph’s genealogy? If you notice, Joseph’s genealogy comes through Solomon and the kingly line. So that it brings you down to Jesus from the line of Solomon, and the kingly line showing that Jesus as the adopted son, the eldest adopted son of Joseph, had right to the title to the king of Israel. As the oldest adopted son of Joseph. But as the son of Mary, coming through Nathan, who was the older brother of Solomon, Nathan was the legal heir of David. And so through Mary He received His legal heirship through David. But through the adopted sonship of Joseph He received the kingly right.
Now during the later part of the time of the kings in Judea, in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 22, because of the wickedness of the king Jeconiah, God placed a curse upon him, and this curse that God placed upon Jeconiah precluded any of his descendants taking the throne in Israel. The last verse of Jeremiah 22, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘Write ye (concerning Jeconiah) this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.'” From Jeconiah it was cut off. And none of his sons sat upon the throne. And from this word of the Lord, none of his descendants could sit upon the throne.
Now if you will read the genealogy of Joseph in Matthew, you will find out he was a descendant of Jeconiah. So he could not sit upon the throne. If He were from the bloodline of Jeconiah, the actual son of Joseph, but being the adopted son of Joseph, and yet, the son of Mary through Nathan and David, He had the legal claim to the house of David. Plus He could take and sit upon the throne as the eldest son of Joseph, yet not be of the seed of Jeconiah. So it’s fascinating that God would put both records in, so He can sit as the King, because He is the adopted eldest son of Joseph, but He also has the legal right, because He is the son of Mary, virgin-born.
So Luke gives us that genealogy through Mary and gives the names of all these people, and we are not going to go through them. But it is interesting that he goes all the way back to Adam, so that where Matthew relates Him only to the Jewish race, Luke relates Him to the world. Because we are all descendants of Adam. So all of us are related to Jesus, as Luke makes the relationship of Jesus to the world, and thus, we can each one identify being Jew or Gentile, because He comes basically from Adam. We all relate to Him and can relate to Him.
And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit returned from Jordan (Luk 4:1),
Now He was at Jordan where He was baptized by John, and He returned from Jordan.
and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Luk 4:1),
Now the Judean wilderness stretches from an area just fifteen miles north of Jericho, and continues on down to the Dead Sea. And it extends back to what are known as the Jerusalem Hills, and it is a very barren, desolate area known as the Judean wilderness. There is about an average of one inch of rain a year.
It was in this area that Bishop Pike died as he was searching for the historic Jesus. It is a very wild, desolate area. It oftentimes gets up to 120, 125 degrees there in that Judean wilderness.
And Jesus went into the wilderness.
Forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did not eat anything: [so forty days fasting] and when they were ended, he afterward hungered (Luk 4:2).
Now those who have fasted for prolonged periods of time will tell you that after five days that strong appetite leaves, and you really don’t get that hungry. Now I can tell you after three days you’re vanished. You start having visions of hot fudge sundaes and strawberry shortcake. But they tell me, if you can get to the fifth day that the hunger begins to leave, and that you will not get hungry again until you begin to starve to death. And they do say that a person, by taking water, can exist as much as forty days or so without eating. But once you get hungry after a prolonged period, it is important that you eat, and of course, you have to eat, breaking your fast very slowly. In other words, if you sit down to a big dinner after fasting for forty days, it will kill you. Your body wouldn’t be able to handle it. So if you’ve been fasting for say fourteen days, you should take at least fourteen days in breaking the fast. Beginning with just half glass of juice, and half water mixed together, and break it slowly, introducing foods and nutrients to your body again, because if you introduce too much, too fast, it can actually destroy you, it can kill you. Your body just can’t handle it. And a lot of people have died because they were foolish in breaking a fast. They just go out and eat a big dinner.
So Jesus had been fasting, going without food for forty days. And now He was hungry. Which means that He was beginning to starve to death.
And so the devil said to him, If thou be the Son of God (Luk 4:3),
And in the Greek, the if is in the subjunctive, rather than in the indicative case. And the if in the subjunctive is not a question, but is a declaration, “Since thou art the Son of God”. He isn’t really questioning the fact if Jesus is the Son of God or not, but he is in reality saying, “Since thou art the Son of God,”
command this stone that it be made bread (Luk 4:3).
Use your divine gifts to satisfy the needs of your own flesh. A common temptation for men who have been gifted by God or placed in positions of authority or power by God, use God’s gift to you, for your own benefit, for the benefit of your own flesh, to enrich yourself. And there are always those who, unfortunately, succumb to that temptation of the prostituting of their gifts that God has given to them, as they use them for their own benefit, rather than for the blessing of the entire body of Christ.
Satan is suggesting to Jesus that He do this, that the material is superior, the most important. But Jesus denied that suggestion with a word of God, declaring,
It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone (Luk 4:4),
The material life is not the most important.
but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Luk 4:4).
Now all the way through Jesus emphasized and declared that the spiritual was superior to the material. This is the declaration of the New Testament, that the spiritual life is more important than, and superior to the material life. And this is the challenge that the world is giving us today in humanism, declaring that the material life is superior. And that is why the church and humanism lock horns. Because the true church of Jesus Christ must affirm the same message that Jesus declared, and that is, the spiritual is supreme. Humanism says the material is supreme. So the battle rages. But this is the declaration that Jesus made. The superiority of the spiritual over the physical realm.
Satan here was declaring the superiority of the physical over the spiritual. Take the spiritual and make something physical out of it. Take the spiritual power, and take that stone and make it bread, so you can feed yourself. You are hungry. And Jesus said, “Look, man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” The superiority of the spiritual over the material.
So the devil took him up to a high mountain, and showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time (Luk 4:5).
So before His eyes flash the kingdoms of the world. He saw Caesar sitting on the throne in Rome. He saw all of the power that world rulership brought. All of the honor, all of the glory. He saw the servants as they bowed and as they brought the delicacies. And He saw the people as he had the audience before him. Saw the power that he wielded from the throne.
And Satan said unto Jesus, All this power will I give to you, and the glory of them: for it’s been delivered unto me (Luk 4:6);
When was it delivered unto him? It was delivered unto to him in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned against the commandment of the Lord. They forfeited the earth to Satan. The Bible says, “Know ye not that whomsoever you yield yourself servants to obey, his servants you become. Whether obedience unto righteousness, or of disobedience unto sin. Yield therefore your members as instruments unto God, unto righteousness.” But in yielding to Satan’s suggestions, in obeying the suggestion of Satan, they were disobeying the command of God, and they yielded and forfeited the earth, which God had given to them, over to Satan. And Satan took control of the earth, as man yielded to his power, to his control, to his suggestion.
You see, in the beginning the world was God’s; He made it. But when God created men and placed men on the earth, God gave the earth to men. God said to Adam, “Have dominion over the earth, over the fish in the sea, the fowls in the air, over every moving and creeping thing, for I have given it unto thee” (Genesis 1:28). So God gave to men this beautiful gift of the earth. And at that time it was beautiful. And even today where you can find nature unspoiled, it’s still beautiful.
But men in his folly and in yielding to Satan forfeited over unto Satan the world. And man in turn became a slave. A slave of Satan. And so Paul the apostle said, “In times past you all walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, that even now is directing the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Satan is in control of the world. We sing, “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ear, all nature sings and… the music of the spheres.” But in reality, this is Satan’s world. He is telling that to Jesus. In fact, if you will study carefully, we will realize that the purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ was to redeem the world back to God. To bring it back into God’s sphere. Because men had forfeited to Satan, now God is seeking to bring it back into His sphere, and for this purpose He sent His Son to redeem the world.
Now as we look at the world today, we do not yet see the redemption. We still see a world that is in rebellion against God. And we see the effects of that rebellion in our society. And it is totally wrong for men to blame God for the calamities of our world, which calamities have resulted entirely from men’s rebellion against God ruling over the world. Yes, the world is in a mess. Yes, horrible things happen. Yes, there are things that we can’t explain or understand, especially in the light of God’s love. But we can understand them in the light of the world under the control of Satan, being governed and directed by Satan.
Now Jesus did not dispute Satan’s claim when Satan said, “Look, it’s mine, it’s been given to me, it’s been delivered to me, and I can give it to whomever I will.” Jesus didn’t dispute that; He recognized that fact. In fact, He knew that was true, and that’s what He had come for, is to wrest it from Satan. By redeeming the world by going to the cross, and dying to pay the price of redemption. The price of redemption was that of shedding the blood. And He was going to go to the cross to redeem the world. And that was God’s plan of the redemption of the world and man. It’s through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Now what Satan is actually suggesting here is that Jesus can escape the cross. “You don’t have to take God’s plan. You don’t have to take the path that God has prescript to redeem. I’ll make a deal with you, I’ll give it to you right now, without the cross. Only one little hitch, bow down and worship me.”
Of course, Jesus, had He bowed down to worship him, would then have been subservient also to Satan, and it would still be in his power. He would still be the one in control, because He would have bowed down to him. ” Submit to my authority, I give it all to you. You can sit on the throne, you can rule, but you be under my authority, having bowed down to me.”
And Jesus answered:
it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve (Luk 4:8).
Now, that the world is still under the control of Satan is evident by the fact that in the book of Revelation in chapter 13, when the man of sin, the beast comes on the scene, Satan will give to him his power and his throne. And we read that the antichrist will rule over the world. Satan still has the power of dispensing the world ruling powers to those whom he pleases. “I can give it to whomever I will.” God allows him, of course, but yet, Satan has still tremendous power and will turn the world over to the antichrist. But then Jesus will come with the title deed to the earth, and will declare, “The kingdoms of this world have now become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Messiah, and He shall reign for ever and ever, as king of kings, and Lord of Lords, forever and ever, and ever Hallaluja, Hallaluja, Amen” (Revelation 11:15).
That has not yet happened. I am personally convinced that it is not far off. I believe that man has sunk about as low as God will allow him to sink. I really believe that the time has come in the history of mankind that God must once again intervene. God has intervened in history before. He intervened at the tower of Babel. When the technology of men had increased to the extent that God said anything he wants to do, he is capable of doing. And we are again arriving at that type of technology. God intervened in at the time of Noah, when there was a tremendous advancement in the powers given unto men through occult forces. We are coming to that again. Time for intervention.
So Satan is laying before Jesus an extremely powerful temptation. Something extremely desirable. Something that He was willing to die for. But Satan is saying, “You don’t have to die for it. I give it to you, just bow down and worship me.”
The third temptation was at the pinnacle at the temple, where Satan suggested that He jump. And now Satan takes to quoting the scripture.
It is written, He will give his angels charge over thee (Luk 4:10),
He leaves out an important part. “To keep thee in all thy ways.” He omits that. So he is quoting only half of the scripture. Which he is a master in doing. Leaving out some of the salient points. It is written, “He will give His angels charge over thee,”
to bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone (Luk 4:11).
“If you’re the Son of God, go head and jump.” And the idea being, by jumping off of this high pinnacle of the temple and landing in that crowd of people down below, completely unharmed, soft landing. “The people by the spectacular demonstration of power will surely know that you’re the Messiah. And they will stand in awe of wonder of you.”
And Jesus said, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Luk 4:12).
Now a couple of weeks ago when we were closing out Mark’s gospel, we find that it was written there that these signs should follow them that believe. “In my name,” He said, “they will cast out devils, they will speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not harm them.” Again, this other written word of God applies, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” You are not to put yourself deliberately into jeopardy to prove anything. Jesus doesn’t need to prove that He is the Son of God by putting His life deliberately in jeopardy by jumping of the pinnacle of the temple to create a spectacular scene among the crowd below, by the angels bearing Him up, lest He dash His foot against a stone.
So it is not right to just take scriptures and say, “Well, it says if they drink any deadly thing,” so just drink cyanide and show that we are real believers. No, that’s tempting the Lord our God.
I know of missionaries who have been bitten by poisonous snakes without any harm at all. I know missionaries who have drunk poisonous swamp water, because of their intense suffering of malaria, and just so thirsty, they had to drink something, and put a straw down into that poisonous swamp water, and drink it without any harm. But for you to just go out and deliberately jeopardize yourself is manifestly wrong. Tempting the Lord our God.
So when the devil had ended all of the temptation, he departed from him for a season (Luk 4:13).
He came back, but for a while he left Him.
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit (Luk 4:14)
Now He began in chapter 4, full of the Holy Spirit, and being led by the Spirit. And now returning in the power of the Spirit. And so that work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, leading Him, filling Him, empowering Him. And we as believers have that same privilege of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Being led by the Holy Spirit, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Paul said, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye being filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Paul said in Romans 8, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “And you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”
So we as the believer have that same relationship with the Spirit that Jesus had, and that we can be filled with the Spirit, led by the Spirit, and empowered by the Spirit of God.
And as he was there went out a fame of him through all of the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all (Luk 4:14-15).
He was going around teaching in the synagogues in the area of the Galilee. Now at this particular time, according to Josephus, at this time was the governor in the area of Galilee, and Josephus in his writings declares that he had two hundred and four cities in his jurisdiction that had populations exceeding 10,000 people. So at the time that Jesus was ministering in the Galilee, it was a very populated area, perhaps as many as three million people. Of course, that’s the number that Josephus claims–three million people living in the area of Galilee during the ministry of Jesus. Today there is just about four million people in all of the land of Israel, most of them are in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There is probably less than a half a million people in the Galilee region today. But in the time of Christ, there were three million people inhabiting. Which, of course, is an extremely beautiful area. If there were an area in the world which I would enjoy living, it would be along the Sea of Galilee. It is so beautiful there; I love it there. You got hot summers, but you got the lake right there, skiing and swimming and all, it’s just a beautiful place. In fact, they used to say in the Galilee it was easier to raise ten tons of fruit than one child. It produced so abundantly in that area.
Now, He now returned to Nazareth where He was born and where He grew up. He spent thirty years in Nazareth. Where He was known as the carpenter’s son. And He was well known by the people.
And so he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as was his custom [He was in the habit of doing it], he went into the synogogue on the sabbath day, and he stood up to read the scriptures (Luk 4:16).
Now this was something, a custom that He had developed. He would go into the synogogue on the Sabbath day, and to teach. So He stood up to read the scriptures.
And they delivered unto him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah (Luk 4:17).
And, of course, all of the scriptures were on scrolls, and they would keep these in a depository in the synogogue, and they would carry it out, and they would unroll it. And so they handed Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. And each day they had a particular passage that they read out of the scrolls. And in the synogogue worship, even to the present day, on every day of the year on this particular day they read these particular scriptures.
And so they handed him the prophet Isaiah.
And when he had opened the scroll, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of their sight to the blind, and set at liberty those that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and gave it again to the man who was in charge (Luk 4:17-20),
It reads minister, but really he was the servant. He isn’t minister in the sense that we think of a minister today. But he was just a fellow that carried the scrolls around.
and he sat down. And all of the eyes of the people that were in the synogogue were fasten on him (Luk 4:20).
When He sat down, that was indicative of the fact that He was now going begin to teach. The rabbis always sat when they taught. And so He stood to read the scriptures. But having read them, then in sitting down, he was signifying to the people He is now going to teach us the scriptures.
He looked up this particular passage in Isaiah, which is Isaiah 61, and He read out of Isaiah 61 the prophecy concerning the Messiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of the sight to the blind, and set at liberty those that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” This was to be the ministry of the Messiah. Now if you will go back to Isaiah 61, you’ll find that He stopped right in the middle of the text of Isaiah 61. He didn’t complete the reading of the ministry of the Messiah. The reason being, there are two comings of the Messiah. The rest of Isaiah 61 pertains to those things that will transpire when He comes again. As it speaks of the judgment and all that will transpire. That will await His second coming. Those things that He read are the things that pertain to His first coming. This would be His works. This would be His activities. And thus, it was extremely significant that as He said, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” He closed the book.
Now it’s interesting to compare the ministry of Jesus with John the Baptist. With John the Baptist there was really no gospel. Just, “Repent, you generation of vipers, bring forth something that shows you’ve repented. Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Make the path straight.” I mean, just laying on them, really no gospel. But with Jesus, we find the gospel. “I have come to mend up, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, recovering of the sight to the blind, to set at liberty those that are bruised, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And so the glorious gospel that was brought to us by Jesus Christ.
Now later on when John the Baptist began to have questions concerning Jesus after he had been in prison for awhile, and Jesus had not kicked Herod out from the throne and taken over, John sent his disciples to Jesus with the question, “Are you the Messiah, or shall we look for another?” In other words, “What’s the big delay? I am tired of this prison.”
And in that same hour many came to Jesus who were blind and lame, the poor. And He healed them. He restored their sight. And He said to those disciples of John, “Go back and tell John what you’ve seen. How the blind receive their sight, the lame are walking, and to the meek the gospel is being preached.” And Jesus, rather than answering directly, “Go back and tell John, ‘Yes, I am the one you’re looking for.'” Rather than His own testimony, in essence He was saying, “My works testify of who I am.” These were to be the works of the Messiah.
Now later on Jesus said, “Believeth thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works sake.” “Don’t believe it because I say it unto you, but I have demonstrated the works of the Messiah. I have done those things that the scriptures said the Messiah would do, in giving sight to the blind, the lame are walking, the gospel if being preached to the poor.” And these works are a witness, and they attest to the fact that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.
And so He closed the book, gave it to the minister, He sat down. Everybody was looking at Him.
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears (Luk 4:21).
That must have been an electric, dynamic moment. As He closed the book, having read these prophesies of the Messiah, which they all knew and recognized to be prophesies of the Messiah. And He said, “Today the scripture has been fulfilled.”
When He was talking to the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman, she said to Him, “We know that when the Messiah is come, He is going to tell us everything.” And Jesus said, “Woman, I’ve got news for you, the one who is speaking to you, is He.” Imagine the dynamic of that moment, to realize, “Hey, this is it, He is the one.” He is declaring this to the people here at the beginning of His ministry.
And all bore witness, and they wondered at his gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? (Luk 4:22)
They were stumbled, because they knew Him.
And he said unto them, You surely will say this proverb unto me, Physician, heal thyself: for whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do it also here in this country (Luk 4:23).
Now we’ve heard that you have done some exciting things down in Capernaum, do something here.
And he said, I tell you the truth, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut for three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout the land; But unto none of them was Elijah sent, but to Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow (Luk 4:24-26).
Now Jesus is saying some things that are going to really upset them, because one thing a Jew was, and that was, he was a complete national. In fact, in their writings of this time, the Jews taught that the Gentiles were only created for fuel for hell. And they did not believe that a Gentile could be saved. “We are the sons of Abraham.” And they had this strong nationalistic feeling, feeling that salvation was only for the Jews, everyone else was excluded. So that when Jesus begins to point out a few things in their history, it upsets them.
Now in the time of Elijah when there was this famine as a result of the drought for three and a half years, there was a widow who was sustained during in the famine by Elijah. The Lord sent Elijah to her. But she wasn’t a Jewess. She was in the city of Sarepta. And there were many lepers in Israel, though there were many widows in Israel, none of the widows were visited by Elias, just this one outside.
And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of Elijah the prophet; but none of them were cleansed, except Naaman the Syrian (Luk 4:27).
Oh, man, that’s enough to make any Jew’s blood boil. “We are the people. God only cares for us, and no one else.”
And all of those that were in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled [with anger] with wrath. And they rose up, and threw him out of the city, and they led him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him head first over (Luk 4:28-29).
They were going to take Him up and toss Him over the cliff.
But he, passing through the midst of them on his way (Luk 4:30),
So He just disappeared actually from their sight.
And went on down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and he taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with authority (Luk 4:31-32).
Now no one spoke with authority in those days. When anyone would preach they would say, “Now Rabbi Hallel declares… ” They were like government employees, no one wanted to take any word of authority; they always pass you off to someone else. No one wants to take responsibility for anything. That’s why it is so hard to get a permit anywhere. No one wants to accept any responsibility. If it comes back it’s my neck, and it’s awfully hard to deal with government agencies. Well, in those days when everyone spoke, they would always speak with the quoting of someone else. “He said this,” or, “He declared that.” But Jesus wasn’t quoting the rabbis, He just said, “I say unto you, now you’ve heard that it has been said, you’ve heard that this is what was said, but I say unto you,” and He spoke with authority. And they weren’t used to that, they were amazed at the fact that He spoke with such authority. Astonished at His doctrine, for His word was with authority.
And in the synogogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know who you are; the Holy one of God (Luk 4:33-34).
The demons recognized Him. And here in the synogogue in Capernaum the demon possessed man cries out.
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and did not hurt him. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What kind of word is this! for with authority and power he commands the unclean spirit, and they come out (Luk 4:35-36).
Now in those days they had rights of exorcism. I mean, they would go through a ceremony that you wouldn’t believe. Gaze over that person with that unclean, and they would use sometimes a gold ring, and go through this whole long routine and rigmarole to exorcise the unclean spirits. And it was really a heavy-duty thing. And here Jesus is just speaking to them, and commanding them, and they are coming out. And they are saying, “Hey, wait a minute. What is going on here? What kind of word of authority is this that He can just speak to them and they are obedient to Him?”
And his fame went out in to every place of the country around that area. And he arose out of the synagogue, and he entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with great fever; and they besought him for her (Luk 4:37-38).
Now Simon was married, his wife’s mother. It is interesting that nothing at all is mentioned concerning the wives of the apostles. Now because nothing is mentioned from them we should not infer anything concerning them. The scripture is silent. We should be silent. There is no inferences at all that we can draw from the silence of the scripture concerning the wives of the apostles. No inferences can be made. Inferences if they were second-rate citizens, or anything of this nature are absolutely wrong. Because the scripture is silent concerning them. But the main thing when the scriptures are silent, how many times men love to speak, and the books that are written about the silence of the scriptures. You know, the inferences and the conclusions that a person draws because the scripture is silent in a certain area, and that is all speculative, and there is to be no inferences drawn from it whatsoever.
Now we would not even know that Peter was married for sure, except that his wife’s mother was sick and was taken with a great fever. Now this is in the Greek medical terms. Luke was a doctor, and thus, he diagnoses her condition with medical terms in the Greek language here.
And they came to Jesus that He might help her.
And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she rose and [fixed dinner for them] ministered unto them (Luk 4:39).
Which means fix something to eat, and prepare something for them, as mothers are so prone to do. You know, just that typical neat mom that goes out and fix something for them.
And when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with diverse kind of diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of God. And he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak: for they knew that he was the Messiah. And when it was day, he departed and went into a deserted area: and the people were looking for him, and they came unto him, and they begged him that he would not depart from them. But he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee (Luk 4:40-44).
Now if there were two hundred and four cities, the population of 10,000 plus, it would take a good while to get around to all of these fairly good sized little communities, two hundred and four of them, to preach in the synagogues throughout the area of Galilee.
So next week we’ll enter into chapter 5 and chapter 6.
May the Lord be with you and bless you and give you a beautiful week and fill your life with praises and thanksgiving unto God for all His goodness. And we are entering into that difficult time of year known as Christmas, when there are so many extra pressures, so much pushing and shoving and crowded parking lots and people go insane. May the Lord keep you cool and may the true spirit of Christmas just fill your heart. God protect and keep you from getting caught up in the spirit of the age and may you rather be controlled with the Spirit of Christ walking with Him, walking in His love, as a light shining in a dark place. In Jesus’ name.
Chapter 5 & 6
Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Luke’s gospel chapter 5.
The popularity of the ministry of Jesus is growing. Word is being spread around of the miracles that are being wrought by Him, and now wherever He goes people are beginning to jostle and shove in order that they might get close to Him. It made it difficult for Jesus to travel to get around because of the multitudes that, according to Mark’s gospel, at this point were thronging Him wherever He went.
And so here in Luke’s gospel,
It came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God (Luk 5:1),
And that to me is always an exciting situation, when people are pressing to hear the word of God. When this becomes such a priority in the life of people, to just hear the word of God, they pressed to hear it. But,
he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret (Luk 5:1),
Also known as the Sea of Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee. Whenever you are talking about a sea, somehow in my mind you get a vision of a sort of a salt body of water, but the lake of Gennesaret, or it’s to me more of a lake than it is the sea. It’s not salty water, but is fresh water, drinkable. So yet, it is known as the Sea of Galilee.
There were two ships that were standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and he prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship (Luk 5:2-3).
So in order to escape a little from the crowd that was thronging Him, He commandeered Simon’s ship. He got in it, and He said, “Pull on out a little ways,” in order that He might be able to teach the people without them pressing so close that He loses the sight of those that were behind. Now here in the area by Capernaum there is sort of a good slope where the Sea of Galilee comes down, where the banks come down into the Sea of Galilee there, so that just pulling out just a little ways from shore, you’re sort of an amphitheater type of a situation, which made it very conducive to teach the multitude of people who were thronging to hear the word of God.
Now when he was finished speaking to them, he then said to Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught (Luk 5:4).
For a load, you’re going to be pulling in a large catch.
And so Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net (Luk 5:5).
Simon is objecting to the command in a polite sort of a way. “Lord, I am the fisherman, I know how to fish, and I know the time to fish, and I know that the time isn’t now.” As the day gets warmer the fish go to the deeper areas of the lake. And these nets were not really deep-water nets, they were sort of surface nets.