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Summary: Luke presents this "Gift of Hope" in Christ through: 1) The Divine Messenger (Luke 1:26), 2) The Divine Choice (Luke 1:27), 3)The Divine Blessing (Luke 1:28–30), and 4) The Divine Child (Luke 1:31-33).

Through the Advent season, the celebration of Christmas is arguably the most widely celebrated of all the world’s holidays, involving more people and nations than any other. But at the same time, it is perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major holidays. Other holidays honor famous people or commemorate significant historical events. Christmas, however, honors a divine person and remembers a divine event; it does not celebrate human achievement, but divine accomplishment. Santa Claus, crowded shopping malls, office parties, alcohol consumption, gift giving, holiday decorations, and family get-togethers do not reflect the true meaning of Christmas. There is nothing man-made about the Christmas story. It is the most miraculous, compelling narrative in history, as the Holy Spirit relates the dramatic story of Jesus Christ’s birth. Those who truly celebrate Christmas do so by remembering the profound reality that God sent His only begotten Son to die for the sins of all who put their faith in Him.

The promise of a Savior, for centuries the hope of the faithful, believing remnant of Israel, continued its realization with Gabriel’s second appearance in the Gospel of Luke, this time to a young woman. Luke’s simple, unadorned, unembellished account of Gabriel’s announcement to Mary emphasizes the divine character of Christ’s birth. The events depicted in Luke 2 reflect the message of hope and Mary's contemplation of the future.

Of all the things we hope for at Christmas, it is often the simple things that bring the most joy. When shopping is done, travel commitments are achieved, and work is finished we can catch our breath as it were and think. When our minds turn to the coming of Christ we should reflect upon the hope of the Gospel and the implication of His kingdom consummation of His return.

Luke presents this "Gift of Hope" in Christ through: 1) The Divine Messenger (Luke 1:26), 2) The Divine Choice (Luke 1:27), 3)The Divine Blessing (Luke 1:28–30), and 4) The Divine Child (Luke 1:31-33).

1) The Divine Messenger (Luke 1:26)

Luke 1:26 [26]In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, (ESV)

Gabriel’s appearance to Zacharias had broken four centuries of revelatory silence. Astonishingly, just a short while later in the sixth month (of Elizabeth’s pregnancy as indicated by 1:36.) the angel Gabriel was once again sent from God with a revelation that would be the most significant birth announcement the world has ever known, heralding the most monumentally significant event in human history—the birth of the only Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, the great God of heaven sends the gift of salvation to humans in a serene unadorned package of simplicity (Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke: 1:1–9:50 (Vol. 1, p. 107). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.).

The last time the angel Gabriel appeared before the events in the Gospels, was to the prophet Daniel more than five hundred years earlier (Daniel 8:15–17; 9:21). Each time Gabriel appeared, he brought important messages from God. (Barton, B. B., Veerman, D., Taylor, L. C., & Osborne, G. R. (1997). Luke (pp. 16–17). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)

Gabriel delivered this crucial message from God not to Jerusalem as might be expected, but to a city in Galilee called Nazareth. To call Nazareth a city is somewhat misleading. Nazareth was by no stretch of the imagination a city in the modern sense of the word; it was actually a small village of only a few hundred people. (The Greek word translated city actually refers to a population center as opposed to a rural area, regardless of size.) For the benefit of his Gentile readers, who may not have been familiar with Palestinian geography, Luke noted that Nazareth was in Galilee, about seventy-five to one hundred miles north of Jerusalem.

So obscure and insignificant was this tiny hamlet that it is not even mentioned in the Old Testament, the Talmud, or the writings of Josephus. Yet, despite the claims of some skeptics, however, archaeological evidence proves that Nazareth did in fact exist in Jesus’ day [cf. E. M. Blaiklock and R. K. Harrison, eds., The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1983) s.v., “Nazareth”; Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 102–103].)

Please turn to Isaiah 9 (p.573)

Nazareth was not on any of the major trade routes; all the important roads bypassed it. It was well off the beaten path, far from the important centers of Jewish culture and religion. Moreover, Galilee, where Nazareth was located, was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Isa. 9:1; Matt. 4:15) because of its proximity to Gentile regions.

Isaiah’s vision predicts how the Messiah launched his worldwide mission from Galilee (Matt. 4:12–16).

Isaiah 9:1-7 [9:1] But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. [2] The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. [3]You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. [4]For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. [5]For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. [6]For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [7]Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (ESV)

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