Life-Study of Lukeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the two foregoing messages we covered the introduction to the Gospel of Luke (1:1-4). With this message we come to the second major section of this Gospel, the section concerned with the preparation of the Man-Savior in His humanity with His divinity (1:5—4:13). This section covers a number of matters: the conception of the forerunner of the Man-Savior (1:5-25), the conception of the Man-Savior (1:26-56), His forerunner’s birth and youth (1:57-80), the Man-Savior’s birth (2:1-20), His youth (2:21-52), His inauguration (3:1-22), His status (3:23-38), and His test (4:1-13). In this lengthy section of the Gospel of Luke we have a full picture showing us how the Man-Savior was prepared for His ministry. In this message we shall consider first the conception of John the Baptist and then that of the Man-Savior.
Luke 1:5 and 6 say, “There was in the days of Herod, king of Judea, a certain priest named Zachariah, of the course of Abijah; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless.” Zachariah and Elizabeth were God’s chosen people, preserved in the custody of the law in the Old Testament. They were brought forth by the law to be useful to God for the initiation of the gospel in the New Testament.
In 1:6 we are told that Zachariah and Elizabeth were righteous in the sight of God. This does not contradict Romans 3:20. Here “righteous” means to be right, blameless in the sight of God according to the Old Testament commandments and ordinances (Luke 2:25; Phil. 3:6). It does not mean that these righteous ones were not sinful, that they were without sin and sins. They were blameless, but they were not without blemish. They still needed the unblemished sin and trespass offerings in type (Lev. 4:28; 5:15) for their atonement that they might have contact with God.
The forerunner of the Man-Savior, John the Baptist, was not conceived by his parents’ natural strength, for they were overage. Concerning this, 1:7 says, “And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in age.” This was sovereign of the Lord. Thus they afforded God an opportunity to initiate His gospel, not by man’s natural strength but by His divine act.
Zachariah was a priest of the course of Abijah. This was the eighth of the twenty-four courses of priestly service ordained by David (1 Chron. 24:10). “And it came about, that while he served as priest in the order of his course before God, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense” (vv. 8-9). Zachariah burned the incense on the incense altar within the Holy Place (1:11; Exo. 30:6-8; 1 Sam. 2:28; 1 Chron. 23:13; 2 Chron. 29:11).
Luke 1:10 says, “And all the multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of the burning of incense.” The prayer of God’s people affords Him a way to carry out His plan.
According to 1:11 and 12, an angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah. The angel said to him, “Do not fear, Zachariah, because your petition was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (v. 13). This indicates that Zachariah had prayed for his wife to bear him a son. This also indicates that our prayer carries out God’s operation. Moreover, it implies that our natural strength must be brought to an end so that God’s operation may begin by His divine act. This was revealed in the case of Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 17:15-19) and in the case of Hannah (1 Sam. 1:5-20).
God came in to cause Zachariah and Elizabeth to bring forth a child in a miraculous way. Hence, the conception of John the Baptist was by the divine power in a miraculous way (vv. 19-20). In Old Testament times God did this in bringing forth both Isaac and Samuel. Now in the case of John the Baptist, born of parents naturally unable to produce a child, God came in to enable them to have a son by His power.
In 1:13 we see that the child born to Zachariah and Elizabeth would be called John. The Greek word for John is Ioannes, meaning Jehovah is favorable, Jehovah shows grace, or Jehovah is the gracious Giver. This name is of Hebrew origin, Jochanan contracted into Johanan (2 Kings 25:23; 1 Chron. 3:24; 2 Chron. 28:12).
Luke 1:15 says concerning John the Baptist, “For he will be great before the Lord, and will by no means drink wine and strong drink; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” The word here concerning not drinking wine or strong drink indicates that John was to be a Nazarite (Num. 6:1-4). Instead of drinking wine, he would be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit replaces the wine (Eph. 5:18).
John the Baptist was born a priest, one chosen by God. But this chosen priest of God became a Nazarite in addition. According to chapter six of Numbers, a Nazarite is not a chosen one; rather, a Nazarite is a volunteer. Therefore, John the Baptist had a dual status. On the one hand, as a priest he was chosen by God; on the other hand, as a Nazarite he was a volunteer. John volunteered himself to serve God.
Luke 1:15 says that John was to be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. The Holy Spirit is the first divine title ascribed to the Spirit of God in the New Testament. Such a title was not used in the Old Testament. (In Psa. 51:11 and Isa. 63:10-11 “the Holy Spirit” should be translated “the Spirit of holiness.”) It was at this time, for the initiation of the gospel of God, to prepare the way for the Savior’s coming and to prepare a human body for Him, that this divine title of God’s Spirit was used. The preparing of the way for the Savior’s coming required that His forerunner be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, so that he could separate the people unto God from all things other than God, making them holy unto Him for His purpose. The preparing of a human body for the Savior required that the Holy Spirit impart the divine nature into humanity, making man holy for the carrying out of God’s plan of redemption.
John the Baptist was the first one in the New Testament who was filled with the Holy Spirit. Because he was filled with the Holy Spirit he could fulfill the words spoken concerning him in verses 16 and 17: “And many of the sons of Israel he will turn to the Lord their God. And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to children, and the disobedient to the prudence of the righteous, to prepare for the Lord a people made ready.” This was the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5. That verse prophesied that Elijah would come. It was said of John the Baptist that he would go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah. Therefore, in a sense, John may be considered “Elijah, who is about to come” (Matt. 11:14). However, the prophecy of Malachi 4:5 will actually be fulfilled in the great tribulation, when the real Elijah, one of the two witnesses, will come to strengthen God’s people (Rev. 11:3-12).
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