Setting

The angel’s announcements, studied in the previous lesson, are now fulfilled. As we will see in this and the next lesson, Luke uses the same parallel structure to present the births of John and Jesus, the words of praise that follow their births, and their maturing years. But now Luke places more emphasis on the birth of Jesus Christ by giving a more detailed account of the events surrounding His birth.

Key Verse

(2:10-11)

Did You Know...?

1. The song of Zacharias (1:68-79) is called the Benedictus, derived from the first word Benedictus (“Blessed”) in the Latin Vulgate translation.
2. Horn (1:69): a common OT metaphor for power because of the great strength of the horned animals of the Near East. [ref]
3. Caesar Augustus (2:1): The first and (according to many) greatest Roman emperor (31 B.C.-A.D.14). Having replaced the republic with an imperial form of government, he expanded the empire to include the entire Mediterranean world, established the famed Pax Romana (“Roman Peace”) and ushered in the golden age of Roman literature and architecture. Augustus (which means “exalted”) was a title voted to him by the Roman senate in 27 B.C. [ref]
4. Quirinius (2:2): This official was possibly in office for two terms, first 6-4 B.C. and then A.D. 6-9. A census is associated with each term. This is the first; Ac 5:37 refers to the second. [ref]
5. The hymn of praise by the angels in 2:14 is known as Gloria in Excelsis Deo (“Glory to God in the Highest”), a name derived from the first words of the Latin Vulgate translation.

Outline

  • The Birth of John
    (1:57-66)
  • Zacharias’ Song—The Benedictus
    (1:67-79)
  • The Maturing Years of John
    (1:80)
  • The Birth of Jesus
    (2:1-7)
  • The Angels and the Shepherds
    (2:8-20)

Segment Analysis

  • 1:57-66

    1.

    What is the origin and meaning of circumcision?

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    Read Gen 17:9-14

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  • 2.

    Note the precise timing of the miracle in 64. What kind of impact did the miracle have a. on Zacharias? b. on the people? c. How did this miracle accomplish God’s purpose?

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    c. The miracle made Zacharias and the people clearly aware that John was no ordinary child and that the Lord’s hand was with the child (66). The name “John” means “God shows favor” or “God is gracious.” The meaning of this God-given name and the fact that God opened the mouth of Zacharias the moment the child was named must have sent a powerful message to everyone that the Lord has come to redeem His people. Therefore through these miraculous events, God was already preparing the people’s hearts for the Gospel.

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  • 1:67-79

    3.

    Who is the main subject of Zacharias’ song?

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  • 4.

    Explain John’s mission according to the song.

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    He will be a prophet who declares God’s message of repentance. He will announce to the people about the coming of the Savior to deliver them from their sins.

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  • 5.

    Explain the meaning of salvation based on these verses in Zacharias’ song: a. 71 b. 74-75 c. 77 d. 78-79

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    Salvation is deliverance from the hand of Satan, who holds the power of sin and death (Acts 26:18; Col 1:13; Heb 2:14). Through the Lord’s redemption, we are no longer under the control of the sinful nature and our lives are now free from Satan’s oppression and dominance (cf. Eph 2:1-2).

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  • 1:80

    6a.

    What does it mean that John became strong in spirit?

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    Being strong in spirit refers to the maturity and strength of the inner man, including the person’s understanding, faith, determination, and character (cf. 1Cor 14:20; 16:13; Eph 3:16; 6:10; Phil 4:13; 1Pet 4:1)

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  • 6b.

    What was John’s life like in the deserts? (cf. Mk 1:6)

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  • 6c.

    Why do you think John lived in the deserts?

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    God often trained His servants by sending them into solitude before their public ministry (e.g. Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Paul). John’s simple and harsh life (cf. 1:15) helped him develop a strong spirit, so he may go “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” The ministry of John from the wilderness also fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight’” (Luke 3:4; Isa 40:3). The people went out to John to accept his baptism, confessing their sins (Mt 3:5-6). In contrast to the cities, along with their cares and comforts, the deserts offered a quiet place for people to focus on restoring their relationship with God through repentance.

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  • 6d.

    What lessons can we learn from John’s life?

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    As servants of God, we must live a watchful life, living by the Spirit rather than the desires of the sinful nature (cf. Eph 5:15-18; Gal 5:16-17; 1Pet 1:13; 2:11; 4:1-3; Lk 21:34-36). We need to withdraw from the cares and worries of this life and seek an intimate relationship with the Lord in order to be strong in our spirit.

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  • 2:1-7

    7.

    How did the census accomplish God’s plan? (cf. Mic 5:2)

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    So that Christ may be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, according to prophecy.

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  • 8.

    What can we learn about our Savior from His birth in a manger?

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    God chose to be born in a lowly state for the sake of preaching the gospel and to demonstrate that He came as a servant to save the humble and needy (cf. 2Cor 8:9; Mk 10:45).

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  • 2:8-20

    9.

    Why do you think God chose to announce the good tidings to the shepherds?

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    Shepherds had a lowly place in society and were often despised. It is significant that the good tidings first came to the shepherds out of all people. This is consistent with the theme in Luke that even the social outcasts had a place in God’s salvation plan.

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  • 10.

    What kind of peace does Christ bring to those on whom God’s favor rests? (14)

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    For the meaning of peace, see 5d. In addition to reconciliation with God, the peace here may also include reconciliation among men (cf. Eph 2:13-18; Isa 11:6-9; 65:25).

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  • 11a.

    How did the shepherds respond to the angel’s announcement?

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  • 11b.

    What did they do after visiting Jesus in Bethlehem?

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  • 11c.

    What lessons can we learn from the shepherds?

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  • 12.

    What can we learn from Mary’s reaction (19; cf 1:29; 2:51)?

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    Mary was sensitive to the deeds of God and kept them in her heart. Meditating on the Lord’s words and what He has done in our lives enable us to gain wisdom and know what the Lord’s will is (cf. Eph 5:17; Php 4:8-9; Ps 1:2)

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  • 13.

    Why shouldn’t we celebrate the birthday of Christ?

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    Unlike the gods of other religions, Jesus Christ the Son of God does not have a beginning (Jn 1:1; 8:58; 17:5; Rev 22:13; cf. Heb 7:3). Therefore, we should not set a date and honor this day as the birthday of Christ the way the pagans do for their gods. Serving God in the manner of pagan worship is detestable to the Lord (Deut 12:29-31). While the historical event of Christ’s birth was an occasion for joy, the Bible does not teach believers to hold celebrations once a year for the birth of Christ.

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