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Untitled Document
Luke 1:1-38
Luke 1:39-80 Luke 2:1-38 Luke 2:39 - 3:17 Luke 3:19-4:23 Luke 4:14-5:11
Luke 5:12-26 Luke 5:27 6:11 Luke 6:12-49 Luke 7:1-23 Luke 7:24-50 Luke 8:1-18
Luke 8:19-40
Luke 8:40-56 Luke 9:1-27 Luke 9:26-50 Luke 9:51 to 10:24 Luke 10:25-42
Luke 11:1-13 Luke 11:14-44 Luke 12:1-21 Luke 12:22-48 Luke 12:49 - 13:17 Luke 13:18-35
Luke 14:7-35 Luke 15:1-10 Luke 15:11-32 Luke 15:24-32 Luke 16:13-31 Luke 17:1-26
Luke 17:26-37 Luke 18:9-27 Luke 18:31-43 Luke 19:1-27 Luke 19:28-48 Luke 20:1-26
Luke 20: 27-47 Luke 21: 5-36 Luke 22: 1-20 Luke 22:21-34 Luke 22: 35-53 Luke 22: 54-71
Luke 23: 13-43 Luke 23: 43-56 Luke 24: 1-35 Luke 24: 36-53    
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Luke 1:39-80

 

“And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.  And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:  and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  And blessed is she that believed:  for there shall be a performance of those things which are told her from the Lord.  And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:  for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.  And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.  He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.  He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.  And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.  Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.  And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.  And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.  And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.  And they said to her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.  And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.  And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John.  And they marvelled all.  And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.  And fear came on all that dwelt round about them; and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea.  And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be!  And the hand of the Lord was with him.  And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:  that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.  And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest:  for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.  And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the desert till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”

 

“…we want you to bring your Bibles so you can follow along.  We are in Luke chapter 1, we’ll pray as we continue.  ‘Father, we thank you for this time.  Lord, we lift our hearts this evening, Father, all of us here, Lord, those of us that are saved, your children, we thirst for, Lord, a deeper experience of your presence.  Lord it seems that Satan is tightening his activity throughout the earth, and Lord, you said that when wickedness comes in like a flood that you would lift up a Standard.  And Lord we pray that you would heighten your activity in each one of our hearts, Lord, and in our midst corporately.  And Lord, as individuals and as a fellowship you would allow us to be as a city, set upon a hill, to give light, Father, that we’d be the salt of the earth.  We’re so desperately in need of your empowering with that.  So we look Father for your filling.  Lord, those here this evening that may not be saved, I pray for them, Lord, they’re looking for something, Lord, truth, something that’s not phony, something genuine.  Lord, we’re looking for you.  We pray you touch their hearts this evening.  And as we continue our study Lord, through Luke’s Gospel, we pray that we might always love you more when we leave than when we came, Lord, that your Word would be powerful in us, Lord, we look to you, in Jesus name, amen.’

 

Mary, A Remarkable Young Woman

 

I’m going to begin reading in verse 26, that’s not where we left off, but it’ll just kind of give us a running start to where we left off.  “And in the sixth month [of the pregnancy of Elisabeth] the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angel came in unto her and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women.  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying,”---I’d have been troubled at his presence---“and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary:  for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest:  and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.  Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit] shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:  therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.  And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age:  and this is the sixth mouth with her, who was called barren.  For with God nothing shall be impossible.  And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her” (verses 26-38).  What a remarkable response from Mary.  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.”  Handmaid is the feminine for duolo, it’s not a servant in the house, the female servant, it is a slave, and it is the lowest form of a female slave that could be in the house.  It was someone who had no rights, they were a possession, they were owned by the master.  Now Mary, probably 14 to 16 years old, the normal time of espousal in that culture.  A remarkable, remarkable young girl, as we begin to look at her, and her response to this.  You have to understand, she’s espoused to Joseph.  That engagement period, that period after engagement before marriage is considered binding.  If she’s discovered to be pregnant she could be stoned, that’s what the Law would call for.  The Romans had taken the right away from the Sanhedrin some time in this period, to execute the death sentence, I believe it was slightly after this.  But still this thing went on.  Remember Steven was stoned.  And they would take a woman who was caught in adultery, they would take her to the center of the town, and they would stone her to death, right there in the center of the town, which would be in Nazareth.  Then they would cover her with dung, just bury her in manure, and plant a tree in the middle of it.  And then as people went for a stroll in the middle of the town, and there was a nice tree growing there, it was always a reminder of the cost of adultery and immorality.  Mary, facing that.  Joseph, she’s engaged to a  great guy.  Got a job, first of all, that’s always a good man for starts [laughter], he works, he’s a carpenter.  We’re told that when he hears what’s going on with Mary, that he seeks to put her away privately, which tells us he’s a man of great esteem.  He doesn’t seek to drag her out and to embarrass her.  And you have to realize when she says to the angel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word” what she is putting at stake.  First of all, it’s her marriage, which is something that a young girl dreamed of.  And sometimes we see people in the church here who are engaged, and the engagement breaks off, and they just about walk away from the Lord, they’re so distressed, “and if God loves me, how could he let this happen to me?  I thought he told me this was the person…”.  Mary’s got all of that there, Joseph, a good man, loves her, and you imagine, you know, he had trusted her.  We see some things about her as we’re going to follow her down, she breaks forth into this song, which we call the Magnificot from the Latin, it’s where she talks about how magnificent God is.  She breaks forth into it.  And as we listen to her, we are amazed at how much of the Scripture she knows.  Now possibly because, it tells us that Elisabeth is her cousin, and Elisabeth is an older woman.  So for Elisabeth to be her cousin.  Now let me get this straight, it doesn’t say family member, it says cousin.  The thing about the Bible is, the more you study it, the more you’ll find, the more you believe what it says, the more you get things right.  When it says “brother” it means “brother.”  When it says “mother” it means “mother.”  Sometimes it’ll say father and mean grandfather, but normally it means father, or ancestor.  But when it says cousin, it means, some of you are following, right on track, that’s good [laughter],  OK, so for Elisabeth to be Mary’s cousin, that means that Elisabeth was probably born to her mother when her mother was very young, and it probably means that Mary, probably 14 to 16, was born to her family when her mother was very old, maybe in her fifties.  And usually the child of your old age, is a child who reaps a lot of benefits.  You know when you’re young, and you have your first one, you yourself are not very tolerant, you don’t know what to do with them.  I remember when I first got married, and my wife wanted a changing table, “I don’t understand, change this kid on the bed, look we have a carpet on the floor, and we need a changing table?”  And then you need wipies and all this other stuff, and you’re young, you don’t have any idea…“I work for a living, and I’ve got to waste my money, what do you need this stuff for?”  And you’re just growing and you’re borrowing, you borrow a crib, and you borrow things from people, you borrow a stroller, and you borrow a car-seat---and then by the time our last one came, we’re a little more established, for the first time we could go out and buy the crib we wanted to buy, and we could buy a car-seat.  You’re a little older, you’re a little more established, a little more tolerant.  And just as we see Joseph growing up under Jacob in his old age, or we see Josiah under Manasseh as he’s come back and he’s repented and turned his heart back to God.  We see evidently this young, young girl, Mary growing up in a home with godly, older parents, that have instilled great things within her.  So much so that she’s a vessel, this chosen of God, to bring his Son into the world.  And no doubt Joseph recognized all those qualities about her, he must have been, you know, ’Zippidy-do-da, I got a good one!’, you know what I mean?  ‘I got one you can take home to mom, you know, you can trust this one, she’ll never cheat on me, she doesn’t drink, she doesn’t chew, she doesn’t go out with the guys who do, you know, this is a Keeper!’  And you can imagine how shocked he was.  Mary had to say to him, ‘Joseph, I’m pregnant.’  Which was the easy part of the story.  Because if he’s anything like me, the first thing he’s going say is ‘Who done it!  Who is it, let me at him! I’ll knock him out of his sandals, where is he!  What’s his name!’  [laughter]  And then for her to have to say, ‘God did it.’  [loud laughter]  Maybe that’s why they didn’t stone her, ‘She’s insane, you can’t stone her.’   Just imagine the predicament she was in.  You know, Joseph never read the Christmas story.  Joseph didn’t know the story, he didn’t read this chapter, he didn’t know.  And imagine the reproach that she is bearing, and the embarrassment for Christ, at such a young age.  I look at my kids, they’re teenagers, and I look at the teenagers in the church and this school, and I pray “Lord, give them strength, because they live in an age where sexual promiscuity is common at 12 and 13 years old, and I think ‘Will they have the courage to stand up and bear the reproach of Christ and the embarrassment that comes with him?’  You know, Mary was someone that was an incredible young woman.  And we have people come down, and they get saved, and you know, two months later they come back and say “I’m living with someone, what should I do.”  And you tell them, you have to tell them “You’re not saved, and you’re outa here, this isn’t right.  You need to repent and make things right.”  And there’s such a huge struggle in relationships, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can do that, we’re in love.’  You look at Mary in the midst of all this situation, an angel comes to her and says ‘You’re going to be pregnant from God.’  Now Mary doesn’t do what a lot of us would do, she does not even ask for any details.  She doesn’t say, “But, what if, and then what, and why?  And if they say this, what should I say, and if they say this, and I start to show before I tell them, what should I do?  She doesn’t do any of that.  It’s remarkable that she listens to this angel, first of all I’d have dropped dead of a heart-attack, an angel.  She’s troubled at what he says, not at him.  ‘What kind of a saying is this?’  And then she says to Gabriel, ‘How’s this going to happen?’, not ‘I don’t believe it!’, but ‘How?’  She believes it.  “How shall”, future tense, “this happen?”  She accepts what’s going to happen.  “I’ve never known a man.”  And yet she’s already accepted it’s gonna happen.  “The power of the Highest shall come upon thee…” and he goes on to describe what will happen. And she listens.  And he says ‘by the way, your cousin Elisabeth, old Lizzie [laughter], she’s pregnant, with a son.’  Mary must be thinking ‘These are strange days.’  And Gabriel says “For nothing shall be impossible with God.”  She listens to the whole spiel, and she says, ‘Behold the slave of God.  I relinquish my rights to my husband, to my future, to my life, to my reputation, to my standing amongst my peers, to the places where I find social fellowship with other Jews in my day…’  She relinquished all of that for God.  And she didn’t know Christ the way we know Christ.  She didn’t have the advantages that we have.  And yet she sets it all aside, and says “Be it unto me according to thy word.”  Now it’s interesting, because down in verse 45 it says, and as Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Ghost, she says “Blessed is she that believed.”  You know, as difficult as a decision to walk with Christ no matter what the cost may be in worldly terms, the estimation of heaven, Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Ghost when she says this, she says “Blessed is the one that believed.”  Is there going to be a cost?  Of course there’s going to be a cost.  There’s going to be an embarrassment.  In the Gospel of John, when Jesus is a grown man, he’s arguing with the Pharisees and Sadducees and they say to him, “At least we weren’t born out of fornication.”  ‘We weren’t born from sexual sin.’  The Talmud would record that Jesus, Yeshua, was the illegitimate son of Mary.  She bore her reproach her entire life.  When she goes to Bethlehem, Joseph’s family was there, of the house of the lineage of David.  They don’t stay with any relatives, hard for Joseph to bring home the young girl that was pregnant before they were married.  There’s a cost.  But there’s another side to that coin, and that is, finding yourself living in the middle of the will of God.  You know, Mary found herself more than any other woman, in the middle of God’s will in her whole age.  In fact, the whole Roman world would revolve around her to bring her to the place that Zechariah said that the Messiah would be born.  “Out of Bethlehem of Judah shall come forth him who is to be ruler over my people Israel, whose going forth is from everlasting…”  The whole world will revolve around this young 14-year-old girl who makes a decision to give her life to God, and to be his slave.  And the pronouncement of heaven upon her is “Blessed is the one that believed.”  The blessing of God, there is no blessing that exists that is comparable to having the sense of and knowing that you are living your life in the middle of his will, no matter what the cost, the blessing of heaven is there.  She answers “Behold the handmaid of the Lord:  be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her.”  He didn’t stay there to say to everybody ‘What she’s saying is true.’ 

 

Mary goes to Elisabeth’s---Elisabeth Prophecies

 

“And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda”---probably Hebron, the major city of Judah in those days---“and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth” (verses 38-40).  So, she leaves.  Now evidently by now, by the time she leaves to go to the house of Elisabeth, Joseph must have had his experience with the angel also, because the angel would come to Joseph and say “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, because that thing which is conceived of her is born of the Holy Spirit”, you know, the angel talks to him also [mercifully taking Mary off the hook concerning loosing Joseph. Now Joseph is in on the deal].  So evidently now, to avoid the shame, as she would begin to show in a few months, she goes into the hill country there to her cousin Elisabeth.  She figures at least Liz will understand, you know, strange things are happening to her too.  And it says ‘she leaves with haste,’ escaping gossip, which is difficult to do.  And she goes into the house of Zacharias and Elisabeth.  “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost…”  Now she’s the second person in the New Testament filled with the Holy Ghost, the first person is John the Baptist from his mother’s womb.  Now it says that ‘she is filled “with the Holy Ghost:  and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  Notice that, a loud voice.  That’s interesting.  Boy, that’s a lot easier than explaining why you’re pregnant before you’re married, isn’t it?  for Mary, Mary went ‘Wheh!  Thank you Lord.’  You know, she walks in the door and says to Zachariah and Elisabeth, who are godly and righteous people, we know that, she says ‘How you guys doing?’  And right away John the Baptist does a summersault in the womb and flips and the Holy Ghost comes upon Elisabeth, and Elisabeth says ‘Ah, what a blessing, the mother of my Lord coming to visit me.’  And Mary goes, ‘Boy, I don’t even have to explain all of this, thank you Lord!’  That’s why the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter, he’s steps right in here and calms the situation down.  So she is there now. 

 

A Lesson About Fetuses, Unborn Babies

 

And listen, verse 44, “For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.”  Now this is three to six months into her pregnancy.  She’s saying this fetus, between three and six months old was capable of emotion, saying it, filled with the Holy Spirit.  Don’t ever listen to any of the nonsense of the abortion movement.  Here is this woman saying that this fetus between three and six months old experienced “joy as soon as he heard the voice of your salutation.”  ‘As soon it went in my ears the baby leaped for joy.’  Now you know they start to hear at about 16 weeks old.  If you’re pregnant, and you’re 16 weeks along, four months, you can start to talk to that baby.  I did it with all four.  Cathy, pregnant, 16 weeks, get alone there, then I started.  ‘How you doing?’ [laughter]  ‘Get used to my voice, you’re gonna be hearing it for a long time.  No you can’t borrow the car…’  You know, just, they’re hearing then.  At 8 weeks old, two months, a little girl, two months old, the little baby girl in the womb, already has all of the ovaries that she will use in her entire menstrual cycle throughout her entire life, at 8-weeks old.  What a precious price God puts on life, and the perpetuation of the race.  And here’s little John the Baptist, somewhere in there four to six months, he’s hearing, jumps for joy when he hears.  Now by the way, we say this, if you’re here this evening, and you’ve had an abortion, and you are plagued by that, and you carry it in your heart.  Know this, that when you come to Christ, old things pass away, and all things become new.  There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.  The Bible says that clearly.  And the Bible teaches more than that.  If any of us that loose our temper with our brother, we have already committed murder, we’re all murderers [according to the spirit of the law, cf. Matthew 5:21-22].  But under the blood of Christ, we’re all considered righteous.  You remember the Corinthian church with all of its problems?  Paul would say “It’s my desire to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”  That tells us something of the power of the blood of Jesus, to present the Corinthian church as a chaste virgin, that’s power.  [Don’t think for a moment Pastor Joe is preaching a licentious version of grace either.  Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm.  The bottom paragraph of the first page there is written by Pastor Chuck Smith, senior pastor of all the Calvary Chapels.  When you become a believer, give your life to Jesus, ask Jesus into your life, you start living a life of overcoming sin.  You can’t just go and do as you please and think you’re a Christian.  The Corinthian church repented at Paul’s admonitions and teachings out of God’s Word.  But they repented by and through the indwelling power given to them by the Holy Spirit.]  And for you this evening, if you’ve been through that experience, if you don’t know Christ, and you have that guilt of taking a human life on your conscience, before the evening is over we’re going to give you an opportunity so that you can turn your life to Jesus Christ and ask forgiveness.  Because you know where that baby went, that baby went right into the presence of God.  And you can have a reunion waiting for you, you can have one waiting for you there, to see you.  [There are differing beliefs within the Body of Christ about the “unsaved dead,” “heaven” and “hell.”  To see what some of these are, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.]  Elisabeth said ‘as soon as I heard the voice of thy salutation, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.’ 

 

God Grants us Christian Fellowship in Difficult Times

 

“And blessed is she that believed:  for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”  You know, isn’t it interesting that God grants fellowship, even in the most difficult times. I’m sure this is the most difficult time in some ways in Mary’s life, and God gives her this wonderful fellowship with this old saint.  You’ll find, even if you’ve got to go to the hospital to visit your kids, a Christian nurse is gonna, you know, God sets up those meetings, and he cares for us so much that even in the most difficult circumstances, somehow or other he will provide us with fellowship.  And I look at this, now she going to be there until the birth of John the Baptist, Mary.  And what was that like?  Mary must have asked Elisabeth, ‘What’s the matter with him?’  ‘Well, you know the angel that came and talked to you?’  ‘Yeah.’  ‘Well when he came and talked to him, he didn’t believe him.’  [laughter] ‘So, he’s my pen-pal now, you know.’  Zachariah sees Mary and Elisabeth are talking, and Zachariah keeps trying to interrupt, he’s holding up his little chalkboard, he’s writing and trying to get into the conversation, they’re talking, ‘I can’t believe this happened…’ and on and on, and she said ‘And the angel that came to me told me this is going to happen to me,’ and they’re saying, ‘Can you believe, in all the history of Israel, here you are you’re the mother of the Messiah and I’m the mother of the prophet that comes before the Messiah, who’d have ever dreamed…’  You can just imagine, I would say there was some excitement there in that house.  And probably a lot of things they didn’t talk about in public when they were out shopping.  And they probably had people saying, ‘Liz, 80 years old and expecting, why that Zachariah [loud laughter].’  ‘And whose this young girl?’  And they probably came back from shopping going [sounds of repressed laughter], ‘If they only knew.’  Imagine what they had in common that they couldn’t share with anybody else.  How remarkable. 

 

Mary Magnifies the Lord in Praise and Prophecy

 

Mary then breaks out into what is called now the Magnificot.  Mary said “My soul doth magnify”---Magnificot in Latin, that’s where the Magnificot comes from---“the Lord.”  And she picks apart so many different parts of Scripture as she says this.  “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”  Now notice, Mary mentions her soul and her spirit, and Mary mentions her Saviour.  Mary, as blessed as she is, needs a Saviour.  “For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden [handmaiden: lit. “his female slave”]  for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”  And indeed, she was.  The low estate of his handmaiden, you know it’s interesting, when Joseph and Mary take Jesus to dedicate him in the Temple, it says “they offer according to the law two turtle doves.”  Now the law said when you brought your firstborn son, you were to offer a lamb, unless you were poor.  Then you could offer two turtledoves.  So, here when she’s saying the Lord hath considered my low estate, they were common folks, they were common folks.  Mary was not blessed because she was rich, it says she’s blessed among women, she’s not blessed because of where she lived, because she lived in Nazareth, and Nathaniel said ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’  It was a hole-in-the-wall town, filled with all kinds of immorality.  She wasn’t blessed because she had material privileges in life, the way we look at someone and say that they’re blessed.  Look at Princess Di, now I heard on the news this morning, that as she was in the car, the French doctor that was there heard her saying ‘Oh my God, O my God, O my God.’  And photographers were flashing her face.  And he said “The last thing he heard her say as he went to put the oxygen mask on her face, and she lost consciousness, the last thing she said was ‘Leave me alone.’  How sad.  How sad, because she was still somebody’s little girl, and had married into a nightmare, what everybody thought was a dream.  Unimaginable wealth, no restrictions in the things that money can buy.  Now here’s Mary, with none of that, “Blessed among women”, because she was able to say “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”  ‘I will forego every other relationship in life to have the one, Lord, that I need to have with you.’  “For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:  for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (verses 48-49).---parthenogenesis, he had created life inside of a virgin.   I wonder if now Mary had been reading Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive”?  You know, God said he would give us a sign.  I wonder if she’s looking at that verse and saying ‘Liz, that’s me!  Here I am in Isaiah!---right here!’  “For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.  And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.  He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.---it doesn’t matter what position men think they’re in today, he has and will scatter the imagination and pride of their hearts---“He hath put down the mighty from their [thrones] seats, and exalted them of low degree.  He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.  He has holpen [helped] his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;---remarkably she says---as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed [singular] for ever” (verses 49-55).  So she brings to mind the promise that God had made to Abraham, in Hebron, the same area, over three thousand years before that, Mary’s saying ‘This is the promise, God has remembered, that he made to Abraham way back in Genesis chapter 17.  And this is the fulfillment of the thing that he had said.  And remarkably in those very same hills of Judah in the area of Hebron.  Abraham was there in Hebron of Mamre, it tells us in those days.  How remarkable, I can’t imagine, just imagine reading the Bible and finding yourself in there.  You better read the Bible and find yourself in there.  It says a lot about you, and all of the promises that it says on your behalf will also come true, just as readily as this promise that God made to Abraham 3,000 years before this.  God has made some remarkable promises to us, that are saved [i.e. in the process of being saved.  Technically, no one is saved until they are coming up in the resurrection to immortality, when as Revelation 20:4-6 says, the second death will have no power over us]. 

 

John the Baptist is Born, Mary Goes Home to Nazareth

 

“And Mary abode with her about three months,”---until John was born---“and returned to her own house.”  Now no doubt she was helping Liz, Liz was older.  “Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.  And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.  And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.  And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.”  No doubt Zachariah in his correspondence with his wife for nine months had told her, ‘Make sure he’s named John.  From all I said to the angel, ‘how do I know this will happen?’, because of that I can’t talk, if we name him something else, that’s the end of me.’  [laughter]  “And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name” (verses 56-61).  And it was typical to name the son either after the father, or after the father’s father.  Simon bar Jona, i.e. Simon son of John, typically his son would be named Jona bar Simon.  And they would switch back and forth in generations like that.  In Capernaum, those of you who are going to Israel with us, they found from those days, from the first century of Christ and the disciples there, an engraved stone, and Peter was from Capernaum, that talks about a Jona bar Simon, the son of Peter.  Possibly, maybe the same one, we don’t know.  But they would have expected him to either be named Zacharias or whatever Zacharias’ father was named.  And they’re saying ‘How is this?  You’re naming him John, and none of your kindred are called by that name.  So they don’t believe her.  So now they look to Zachariah, and look what it says, verse 62, “And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.”  Now they didn’t have to make signs to him, he could hear.  He just couldn’t talk.  Now they’re all waving their hands around, and he’s thinking, ‘What a crew, I can hear, you know, I can’t talk!’  So they’re all playing pictionary there with him.  Maybe Zacharias early on said to Elisabeth, ‘Tell them I can’t hear or talk, please, because I don’t feel like listening to them for the next nine months saying, ‘I’d have listened to the angel.  If I had that experience, I would have believed what the angel said.  I’d have believed the angel.’  Maybe he said, ‘Just tell them I can’t hear or talk.’  So they’re all giving him signals now, and he’s going ‘Oye vay.’  “And he asked for his writing table,” which he kept close at hand for these many months.  “and he wrote, saying, His name is John.  And they marvelled all.”  ‘His name ‘not shall be called, his name is John.’  “And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God” (verses 63-64).  He had a lot of time to reflect on the first thing he might say when he began to speak again.  Zacharias opens his mouth and he begins to praise God.  “And fear came on all that dwelt round about them:  and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea” (verse 65).  Notice that, no newspaper, no television, no radio, word spread like it does in the church, throughout the entire area of Judea.  How remarkable. 

 

John’s Childhood, speculation at best---Things to Consider About Jesus’ Birth

 

And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be!  And the hand of the Lord was with him.”  ‘Remember old Liz up there on the hill?  Her old husband’s a little whacky, you know, Zachariah, he came back from the Temple duty, he couldn’t talk, writing messages saying angels were appearing to him, had a little boy, named him John instead of Zachariah.  We’re praying for them.’  [laughter]  “All they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be!”  The King James says “And the hand of the Lord was with him.”  The Greek says “For the hand of the Lord was upon him.”  ‘What manner of child shall this be---because, for, the hand of the God was upon him.’ You know, it says of Moses that they took note of him, because he was a goodly child, something about his appearance.  And here John the Baptist is filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.  He’s born, it’s the 8th day, the neighbours come, experience this, and then this gets noised abroad throughout the whole area.  So as they’re watching, you know, little John the Baptist, they’re watching his behavior, and they’re looking at his appearance, and they’re saying ‘What manner of a child is this!?---for the hand of God was upon him.’  Man, wouldn’t you have liked to know what a kid in his terrible-two’s with the hand of God on him was like?  I wonder what he was like?  I wonder if when Jesus was born, if their families got together?  Did Joseph and Mary bring little Joshua [Hebrew: Yeshua] to see his cousin, his second cousin John?  Did they see each other when they were kids?  Did they grow up together? Imagine, if you will, a little four-year-old John the Baptist, a little three-and-a-half year old Jesus hanging out and talking.  What would they talk about?  ‘Behold, my cousin,’  [laughter] ‘the prophet that goeth before…put that bug down,’  ‘No John, that’s your calling, I don’t want any locust.’  We’re not given any of those details, but you know what?  There’s one whose blessed among them, and when you get to heaven [into the kingdom of heaven], one of the great privileges that you’ll have, not all the privileges that the church bestows on her, but one of the great privileges you will have, is there are certain things you will only be able to find out by asking her.  You know Luke said he collected his information from eye-witnesses.  He’s the only one who tells us these things, the only one who tells us that she had to bring forth her child herself, fifteen, sixteen years old.  No OBGYN people around, in an alleyway, cold, laid him in a stone feeding-trough, the Saviour of the world, the woman that had heard from angels.  How many contradictory things were going on in her life?  How often we get saved [enter into the salvation process] and then we come into difficult circumstances, and we think ‘Lord, do you love me?  Are you punishing me?  Are you dealing with me, why is this happening?’  ‘Lord, I’m having the Saviour of the world, why can’t I even find a room at the Inn, why am I out here freezing in the alley?  Lord, why is this going on?’  Imagine all of this going on, contradictory things that came upon her.  And you know, I think it was the Word of God that kept her, I think it was the message of heaven.  And I think in our own lives, how many folks in the church I see that are dealing with cancer, or just terminal illness, or great difficulties with their family or their children.  And it’s the same thing that keeps them.  It’s the Word of God, it’s the thing that God has spoken to their heart through his Word, that keeps them even in the most difficult circumstances.  The hand of the Lord was on this child, in some manifest way. 

 

It Is Zachariah’s Turn to Prophecy

 

“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost,”---his turn now---“and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;---Emanuel, God with us, he has visited, looked after or remembered is the idea, and redeemed his people.  Now this is prophetic, he’s talking about something that hasn’t been manifested yet, but he’s seeing it---“and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David---When you hear of a “horn of plenty’ or a “horn of power,” the ancient cultures would see a beast, a bull or a animal with a horn, and that was a signature of power, and their authority.  And it says here “God has raised up a horn of salvation, for us, in the house of his servant David.”  “And he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:  that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;---Notice, holy prophets, since the world began. Isn’t that interesting?  It tells us in Hebrews chapter 11 that Abel prophecied.  Isn’t it interesting?  Abel, Cain and Abel, that Abel was a prophet, and that he prophecied.  And he prophecied of better things, when he brought a lamb to sacrifice.  And Zachariah now saying, ‘These are those things that were spoken by the prophets since the world began.  These are the days, these are the promises about redemption and salvation, as spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began---“that we could be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he”---notice, God---“sware to our father Abraham…”  God is the one who is faithful here in Zachariah’s description.  “…that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (verses 67-75). What a day that will be, Zachariah had not seen it physically, but evidently he’s seeing it in the Spirit as he’s prophecying, there’s a day coming when Israel, look at Israel now with the terrorism, look at Israel surrounded by enemies.  You know, there is a day when all of those who believe will serve God without fear, the Bible’s clear about that [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zechariah/Zechariah4.htm].  It says men out of ten different nations will take hold of the garment of the Jew and say ‘Take us to the Temple, show us your God.’  There’s a day coming, the Bible says, when the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and every man will beat his sword into a plowshare, and their spears into pruning hooks, and men will learn war no more [read Micah 4:1-7].  And Russians and Americans [and Germans] and Jews, and Arabs, and Muslims, and Blacks and Whites, and Orientals, and Hispanics will all come, of all nations to worship the King in Jerusalem [at the Feast of Tabernacles, Zechariah 14:16-19], a highway will be there called the Way of Holiness the Bible says.  Zechariah is seeing it, and he’s seeing it attached to his son, and the One for whom his son will prepare the way.  Now it isn’t all in the timing that he probably thinks it’s in.  He’s seeing it all kind of meshed together.  John the Baptist in his ministry kind of thinks that Christ at that point in time is going to set up his Kingdom, ‘His winnowing fork is in his hand, he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor, even now the ax is laid at the root, he’ll cleanse the garner with unquenchable fire.’  And then John the Baptist, when he’s thrown in prison, he hears that Jesus is not in his own throne room, he says, ‘Are you the One that should come, or do we look for another?’ Because even in his prophetic ministry he saw the whole picture, but didn’t understand the decades and the centuries that would separate some of the things that he saw. [i.e. They didn’t understand that the Christ, Messiah was to have two comings.]  Here’s Zachariah, sees a time when all believers from all nations, particularly Israel [the Israeli nation today] will serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness, before him all the days our life.  How remarkable.  And now in verse 76 he turns down and he looks at John, who he’s holding. 

 

What is Salvation?

 

Verses 76-79, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest:  for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;”---Now Zachariah doesn’t live to see this physically, but he sees it all in his heart, God is giving it to him as he’s prophesying.---“to give knowledge of salvation unto his people”----and listen carefully---“by the remission of their sins,”---those of you who are here this evening who do not know Christ personally, the knowledge of salvation comes through the remission of sins,…[tape switchover, some text lost.]…and as they come, they’ll tell their story, ‘My wife just left me, and we’ll see someone who is in genuinely in great agony and pain, and they’re coming and they’re asking for prayer, kind of, ‘Yes, I need Christ in my life.’  But they’re not coming saying ‘I need Christ in my life because I need the remission of sins.’  We see many that come and say ‘You know, I need Christ in my life because my heart is broken, or my business is failing.’  And then we have to stop them and say, ‘Look, you know, we are sorry, we will pray for you, we understand your heart is broken.  But the way you need to come to Him, is you need to provide the sinner and he will provide the Saviour.  You come for the remission of sin, then all of those other things you will leave in his hands, and he will work, and he will perform the things that he will do in regards to your life.  But the first thing that you need to do, to become his child, is to come for the remission of sins.  And again, the Bible is clear, it says “all have sinned.”  If you’re here tonight and you don’t know Christ, we’re not picking on you.  We were all like you.  I was lost, I was in the world, my life was down the drain, and I did it all, and would have gone to hell, and church didn’t do me any good, religion didn’t do me any good.  It wasn’t until I encountered Jesus Christ personally, and approached him with my sin, it wasn’t until my heart was overwhelmed with conviction and I hung my head, and I wept and in repentance, not even knowing what I was doing, knowing I needed forgiveness, that I encountered the risen Christ, the One who is alive today, risen from the dead.  And Zachariah says that clearly, filled with the Holy Ghost, looking at this little baby who will be a prophet, John the Baptist, who will go before Jesus, he says ‘he’s going before the One who will come, to give us the knowledge of salvation through the remission of sins.’  And you have to understand, it isn’t just sins, but it is “sin”, singular.  We have a sin problem, we’re born with it.  We look at a little baby and say ‘Oh they’re so cute.’  Yeah they are.  But one of the first things they learn to say is “Mine!”  [laughter]  “No!”  You know, even before they can speak English, when they want something they go, “Aaaaah!” and they have one scream for nursing, one scream for changing, they learn to manipulate very early.  And you have to teach them not to lie.  You don’t have to teach them to lie, they’ll learn that on their own.  You have to teach them not to take things that belong to other people.  Because they’ll do it on their own if you just leave them alone.  And it is a sin problem, that everyone in the human race is born with, that ultimately if not brought to Christ, will produce eternal death.  And it isn’t your fault in one sense, it was Adam who turned and rebelled, who was the father of our race, we’re all related [and Satan, look up Genesis 3; Revelation 12:9; 20:1-3].  And as he did that, the Bible says he died spiritually, because God then turned him away.  And the fellowship that he had opened-faced with God that kept him alive spiritually was cut-off, and Adam died spiritually.  [Comment:  Questionable theology.  Many differing denominations have differing takes on whether Adam was ever “alive” spiritually or not, i.e. whether he had the indwelling Holy Spirit or not.  It’s not a salvation issue for us here and now, it will be one of those questions we have for Jesus at his return as to what Adam’s fate is.  What follows is not questionable  theology though.]  And every child born since then, no matter what country, what color, what race, what age, all born after that have this problem of death.  You can think, you have emotions, not in your body, you’re alive, but in your spirit, there is a void inside of us, and we will go to try to fill it with pleasure, or try to fill it with one thing or another.  But somewhere along the way, we realize that void inside of us is shaped like a battered and bruised body on a wooden cross.  And we discover it in his presence, that what he did on Calvary for us, is what we have been looking for.  And it’s been blurred to many of us by religion, or by churchianity, or by a thousand things that maybe we perceived as not genuine, but that has nothing to do with Jesus.  Because he’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  And through him comes the knowledge of salvation through him, by the remission of sins.  I want those of you who don’t know Christ to take that to heart, because we’re going to give you an opportunity tonight to turn your life to him, and say, ‘I want to know if this is real Lord, as I sat here this evening something was happening in my heart.  Not in my brain, but deep inside of me there was a stirring, Lord.’  And you can say, ‘Lord, I don’t want church, I don’t want religion.  But tonight Lord, I do want truth, I do want something genuine, I do want this emptiness that’s inside of me filled.  I’m tired of trying to do it on my own, I’m tired of the emptiness, I’m tired of putting on the charade.  Lord, if you’re there, and you love me, and you can forgive me, and be my Saviour.’  We’ll give you an opportunity to do that. 

 

Zachariah Ends His Prophecy, “and the child grew”

 

To give the knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring  [margin: sunrising, or, branch] from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (verses 76-79)---Imagine the neighbours listening to Zachariah, thinking ‘What is he talking about?’  How desperately we need peace, in a world that’s filled with death.  It’s wonderful that Christ can provide these things within us.  It ends this chapter by saying “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (verse 80).  So Zachariah and Elisabeth, no doubt, never lived to see the things that God had revealed to them while they were still alive.  They prophecied them, Elisabeth prophecied about her son and about Jesus.  And Mary then prophecied, in our lesson this evening, speaks about the salvation that was coming, and how gracious God is.  Then Zachariah prophecies about that fact that God had visited Israel, and that salvation was come to the nation, that he’s fulfilling his promises---all of them seeing these things in their hearts, but Zachariah and Elisabeth pass off the scene no doubt while John is still young.  John then, as a young man, how old we don’t know, 12, 13, 14 heads off into the desert.  And it says God is preparing him there until the day that he’s shone forth to Israel.  You know, but the remarkable thing for all of these people in this record this evening, as they prophesy it, as they’re filled with the Spirit, and they speak the things that are on their hearts, they’re not saying anything that they had seen with their natural eye.  God had been revealing something to their hearts.  The Bible says that, it says the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and judgment.  That the Holy Spirit this evening can be saying to your heart, “This is what sin is, not something through your IQ or your intellect, but something you know down deep inside, that this is sin, and this is righteousness, and there’s a difference  between them.”  [Comment:  God’s Word the Bible and the Holy Spirit will never disagree with each other.  And the Bible defines sin this way, in 1st John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of the law.”  That’s not legalism, that is just the simple Bible definition of what sin is.  Just thought I’d throw that in there.]  And there’s a judgment coming on the world, and all men that are born die.  And in light of that, maybe this evening you’re seeing Christ in your heart.  Maybe that void is being filled, because you’re realizing that it is Jesus Christ nailed on a wooden cross that fills that empty spot.  The Bible is clear, that death has come to all men.  You know people do all kinds of things, they fight the battle, they get face-lifts, and ear-lifts and tucks and stretched and pulled, and you’re waiting for one of these people to go ‘slap, slap, slap, slap’ and unwind…you know, you can get glass eyes and fake eyelashes and wigs and wooden legs, just no excuse in these days not to look like something.  But you’re still fighting a losing battle…carrot juicers…people in desperation are getting frozen, ‘Freeze me, or take my brain and freeze it.’  Well there’s a valuable item [laughter].  No offense.  ‘Freeze me and 200 years from now, when technology has advanced to the point where they know what to do with a dead frozen person, thaw me out again.’  And it’s just that funny.  [Ever see the movie Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone?  He’s this rough, tough cop that gets cryogenically frozen and brought back to life 100 years later or something like that.  If Christ doesn’t come back, and this world survives, you’d be coming back, like that cop, to the same evil problems of a sinning mankind. Interesting scenario, but that’s the bottom line, even in that amusing movie.]  You know, aren’t we a hopeless people?  The suicide rate among teenagers has tripled in the last 20 years.  In fact, three or four years ago, it was the leading cause of death among teenagers in America, suicide.  We lead the industrialize world in suicide.  What a hopeless generation.  Jesus said this, he said “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest for your soul.  Take my yoke upon you, learn of me, I’m meek and lowly.”  Are you tired this evening?  Are you looking for rest?...[Connective expository sermon given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:

 

How do I ask Jesus into my life?  Here’s one way.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/baptism/What%20is%20Baptism.htm       

 

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