Summary: An analysis of the account regarding the promise of the birth of John the Baptist will show us how to respond to God's word.
Today I am continuing my series in the Gospel of Luke that I am calling, “To Seek and to Save the Lost.” The primary mission of Jesus, which Luke captures so well in Luke 19:10 is “to seek and to save the lost.”
I love the way The ESV Study Bible captures Jesus’ mission, which is noted in the introduction to Luke’s Gospel:
The Gospel of Luke finds its fundamental unity in the person of Jesus Christ and in his mission to seek and to save the lost. From the first announcement of his coming to his ascension into heaven, Jesus is at the center of everything: the songs are for his praise, the miracles are by his power, the teaching is from his wisdom, the conflict is over his claims, and the cross is that which only he could bear.
Before Luke tells us about the announcement of Jesus’ coming to earth, he tells us about another announcement. It is the announcement in which the birth of John the Baptist—Jesus’ cousin—is foretold. John the Baptist is Jesus’ forerunner. He is the one whom God sent to prepare the world for Jesus.
Let us read about it in Luke 1:5-25:
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” (Luke 1:5-25)
Earlier this week it was reported that an ancient fragment, about the size of a business card, had been discovered. On the parchment were four words that suggest that early Christians believed that Jesus had been married. Written in a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, the four words translate as, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife.’”
Much has been made of this discovery, and many people are abuzz about the possibility of Jesus being married. The fact is that Jesus is married; his bride is the Church! However, Jesus was not married to a woman.
The reason people get carried away with discoveries like this is because they do not know God’s word. And, if they do know God’s word, they don’t always trust God’s word.