Lukeby Mike Raiter
Appropriately, Luke begins his story of Jesus in the Jerusalem temple, God’s symbolic dwelling place. The first two chapters describe, at length, the birth of two boys. It is clear from the outset that Luke wants us to contrast these two boys, as he deliberately sets their births side by side.
In both cases, the angel Gabriel announces to the parents the birth of a son. In both cases, the birth is miraculous: the first to a couple who are well past childbearing age (v. 7), and the second to a virgin (v. 27). In both cases, the parents express amazement. One child is called a prophet of the Most High (v. 76); the other, the Son of the Most High (v. 32). The parents of both sons sing to God a song of praise (vv. 46–55, 67–79). The birth of each child is described, followed by an account of his circumcision (1:59; 2:21), and finally a brief description of him growing up (1:80; 2:40).
Luke places John and Jesus side by side so that there will be no doubt as to who is the greatest. First, Luke introduces us to Zechariah and Elizabeth, godly parents whose promised child, John, will be set apart for God’s service and will prepare His people for the coming of their king (vv. 5–25).
The scene then shifts about 100 kilometres north to Nazareth, where a young girl, Mary, is engaged to be married (vv. 26–38). Gabriel announces to her the birth of a son, a child of incomparable majesty. He is God’s Son (v. 32) and the long-awaited descendant of King David, and will reign forever.
So far, all these two women have is the word of God’s messenger. Yet they hear and believe, because they know that “no word from God will ever fail” (v. 37). We can have this same confidence as we proclaim the word of God concerning Jesus. From the very beginning of his gospel, Luke wants us to know that Jesus is unique. He is not only the child of a virgin, but also the Son of God, and therefore deserves the obedience and worship of every man and woman.
Compare verses 18 and 34. Both Zechariah and Mary question the words of the angel. Why is Zechariah rebuked and Mary not?
What comfort can we take from the wonderful promise that “no word from God will ever fail” (v. 37)?