“Lord, work in my heart that I may be quick to submit to Your will and say, like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Help me always to be eager to spread the word about You as the shepherds did. I exalt and magnify You, Lord, for You have done great things, and You have come and redeemed your people! In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Read Luke 1-3
The events of Luke 1 are not the beginning of God’s preparation for Jesus. The entire Old Testament prepared the way. He is the long-awaited Messiah through whom God fulfilled all the promises He made to Abraham and David (Luke 1:69–73). Even John the Baptist’s ministry was predicted in the Old Testament (Luke 1:17, 3:4–6).
Luke starts with two birth stories: John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ. John the Baptist is the last of the Old Testament prophets whose God-given job it is to announce the coming of the Savior of the world. It’s important to remember that at this point, God hadn’t spoken to Israel in 500 years. But now, John the Baptist arrives as God’s prophet and spokesman, calling people to turn from their sins and be washed in baptism.
Then Jesus arrives on the scene. As you read Luke, pay attention to who Jesus is by observing what He says and what He does. Also note how different kinds of people respond to Jesus. Finally, Luke wanted Theophilus to understand what Jesus said about being a follower of Christ, so watch for teaching about following Jesus, as well as the kingdom of God.
As you read Luke’s two opening chapters, observe that both men and women are prominent in Luke’s Gospel. In Jesus Christ, God is acting to reverse the expectations of many, just as He had promised through the prophets of the Old Testament. Luke reports extended birthday celebrations and angels who show up singing for the birthday parties. Jesus is miraculously conceived, and Mary is a virgin when she gives birth to Jesus. Clearly, this is a unique time in history. In fact it’s actually the turning point in all of history.
Joyful celebrations by the angels mark the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ. Read the four songs that appear in the first two chapters, paying careful attention to the words. Luke records them so that we may understand who Jesus is, what He will do, and how He will be received. These songs point to Jesus as God’s promised fulfillment of Old Testament promises! They also show us that all peoples everywhere need the Savior whom God has sent.
Luke’s Gospel explains to Theophilus and other readers the identity of this Jesus of Nazareth. See the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary in 1:30–35, read the angel’s declaration in 2:10–11, and, finally, consider also Simeon’s praise in 2:29–32.
Interestingly, Jesus the King enters this world in a humble and ordinary way. It must have been a surprise to many that the promised Savior-King, whose birth was attended by angels, would be born in a simple stable. Born to Mary and Joseph, Jesus has an ordinary childhood, growing and becoming strong in wisdom, and Luke tells us God favors Him.
At Jesus’ baptism, all three persons of the Trinity are present: God the Father speaks, God the Holy Spirit descends like a dove, and God the Son is baptized.
In Luke 3:22, the Father says, “You are my Beloved Son whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Jesus is the unique Son of God. As a 12-year-old boy, He had amazed the Jewish teachers of the Law in the Jerusalem temple. But here, God affirms Jesus as a grown man.
At the end of the chapter, Luke records Jesus’ ancestry—from His earthly father Joseph all the way to Adam. Luke wants to highlight at this point that Jesus is a descendant of both David and Abraham. In other words, Jesus is the Promised King from the line of David (2 Samuel 7:12–13) and Abraham’s descendant who will bless all nations by being the Savior of all peoples (Genesis 12:1–7).
10 And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’
- How we answer the question “Who is Jesus?” is very important. When we recognize Jesus as the long-awaited Savior, the beloved Son of God in whom the Father delights, we should joyfully tell others about Him. Luke wants us to see Jesus as the Promised Messiah sent from God for all peoples, not just the Jews. Since all have rebelled against God, the Savior must come to rescue not just Jews but people from all nations. While angels celebrate Jesus’ birth, Luke also reminds us Jesus will be divisive. Not all will believe the good news. Like Herod, some will reject Him; like Simeon, others will recognize that Jesus is salvation, a light for the Gentiles and the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.
- God carefully designed and prepared for Jesus to be born at the exact time and place God had promised in the Old Testament. Jesus’ birth was the turning point in history, making clear God’s intention that He would bring salvation to all peoples, not just Israel. His birth changed the topic of history—and this good news must be announced afresh in every generation, to every people group.
Take some time in prayer to praise God for Jesus. Use some of the language of praise found in the songs in Luke 1–3. Explain how Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament promises.
Set aside time today to evaluate your Spiritual Health using the Spiritual Health Assessment below. Write down answers to the assessment questions and share them with your group leader or accountability partner. [Being a Disciple]
- Are you confident that God has transformed your heart, that you have turned from your sin and trusted in Jesus as your Savior?
- How would you rate your overall spiritual health right now? Over the past year?
- Make a note of your spiritual discipline habits over the past year: prayer, fasting, reading the word, giving, outreach, worship, etc.