The Gospel of Luke: The Graciousness of God in the Birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-66)

A message summary of July 15, 2018 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

From the beginning of the book of Luke, we see the two narratives of the accounts of the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus Christ.  These two narratives lead to the main narrative, which is the redemption of God’s people.

Just as John and Jesus did, every child that will be born into this world will have a birth story.

God’s Mercy and Elizabeth’s Joy (v. 57-58)

Elizabeth was very excited to give birth and received John as a reward from the Lord.  Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed for a child for years.  It was a secret to the rest of her family that she was pregnant for five months.  She was in her 80s.

Luke 1:24 (ESV)

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden.

Elizabeth’s pregnancy was a sign from God of His coming redemption for His people.  This was God’s promise for all mankind.

Luke 1:58 (ESV)

And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

The Lord showed mercy to Elizabeth as he does to everyone who humbles themselves before Him.  It was a miracle.

Luke 1:25 (ESV)

Thus the Lord has…looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.

John 16:21

When a woman is in labor, she has pain because her time has come. But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a person has been born into the world.

Luke 1:13-14

But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth.

When the hand of the Lord is in your life, it is evident and others should rejoice over it!  We are to encourage people and affirm that the Lord’s will is being accomplished.

 

God’s Unmerited Grace (Luke 1:57-58)

Unmerited grace means that you cannot do anything to earn God’s grace.  His grace is a gift, and it is not based on work or be earned.  When looking at the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth, it was apparent that God extended His grace to them to be able to have a child in spite of being advanced in years.

Before a person is regenerated with the power of the Holy Spirit, that person is rendered spiritually dead.

Ephesians 2:1-2

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient.

When we look at Zechariah and Elizabeth’s condition, think of where you were before you came to know the Lord Jesus Christ.  Zechariah and Elizabeth could not have children without God’s doing.  Without God, we cannot do anything.  This is what it means to have God’s unmerited favor.

Ephesians 2:4-5

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

Ephesians 2:8-9

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is Gods giftnot from works, so that no one can boast.

 

The Graciousness of God (Luke 1:59-63)

When it was time to circumcise the child (according to Jewish tradition) note that the name of the child was not indeed Zechariah’s name, but after a name that God had chosen…John

Luke 1:59-60

When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. But his mother responded, No. He will be called John.

God was specific about John’s name in the same way that he was specific about Abram’s name…he became Abraham to be rendered as one of God’s chosen people.

Jeremiah 1:5

I chose you before I formed you in the womb;

I set you apart before you were born.

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

God set John aside to be a prophet of God.  Since God had given the name to him, it was non-negotiable.  The name ‘John’ means, “God is gracious.”

Luke 1:59-63

When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. But his mother responded, “No. He will be called John.”

Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote: “His name is John.” And they were all amazed.

The graciousness of God is presented in John’s name.  This is all about the redemption of God’s people.  It is all part of God’s divine purpose.

 

God’s Saving Grace (Luke 1:64-66)

When Zechariah revealed the name of John, he was immediately able to speak and praised God.  This was after nine months of being unable to speak.  This blessing came naturally out of his mouth, and it created quite a stir amongst the people and throughout Judea.

Luke 1:66

All who heard about him took it to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him.

John 1:19-23

This was Johns testimony when the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, Who are you?

He didnt deny it but confessed: I am not the Messiah.

What then? they asked him. Are you Elijah?

I am not, he said.

Are you the Prophet?

No, he answered.

Who are you, then? they asked. We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What can you tell us about yourself?

He said, I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lordjust as Isaiah the prophet said.

 

Luke 1:68

Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has visited

and provided redemption for his people.

 

Through John came the beginning of the evidence of God’s saving grace.

Has the hand of the Lord been upon you?  If you don’t think it has been, it is time to turn and look to Christ Jesus, who calls us to a saving knowledge with Him.

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