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Beginning with the 26th verse in Luke chapter 1 the story moves from Elizabeth’s pregnancy to Mary’s. When Elizabeth was 6 months along in her pregnancy, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing that she would be the chosen one of all women to give birth to the Messiah. According to Gabriel the Messiah would be called the “Son of the Most High” and should be given the name of JESUS.
Naturally, Mary was eager to tell her family, so she visited Elizabeth who was pregnant with John. Both Elizabeth and Mary were overwhelmed with what God had done in both of them.
Elizabeth gave birth to her baby and when it was time to name him, the neighbors and relatives were shocked. You see, it was customary to name the baby after his father. But Elizabeth protested against doing that and said, “No! He is to be called John.” When the people questioned this to Zechariah, he wrote out the name “John” on a tablet. Immediately when he wrote this, his mouth was opened so that he could speak.
He began to prophesy over his new born son and said, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
In chapter 2 Luke explains the birth of Jesus. They were in Bethlehem for legal registration for the census and Mary gave birth. Since there was no guest room available at the local inns, she gave birth in a cattle stall—a cave.
From that obscure location, the ripple effect began in the fields of Bethlehem among the shepherds. An angel appeared to them saying: ‘I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
Luke is caught up in the motif of Jesus being the Savior of the world. He presents Jesus as the Savior in many ways:
• Gabriel tells Mary to name him “Jesus” which means “YHWH saves” (1:31).
• Mary exults in “God my Savior” (1:47).
• The angels tell the shepherds “there has been born for you a Savior, He is the Messiah, the Lord” (2:11).
• Simeon holds Jesus and prays, “My eyes have seen your salvation” (2:30).
• Jesus describes his mission as coming to “seek and save that which is lost” (19:10).
Luke makes it clear that the real Jesus has not come as a spiritual guru to guide you into the self-realization of your identity or even divinity. He hasn’t come to be your moral example, so you can try a little harder to be good. He has come to rescue you from your spiritual lostness. He came to be your Savior. He came to save you from your self and selfishness, from your self-centeredness and alienation from others and from your rebelliousness against your Creator-God.
His name is JESUS. Listen to Him. Believe Him. Follow Him.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
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