And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Luke 2:16-20 NKJV
Mary and Joseph, after their long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, were unable to find a proper place to stay. Instead, they are in a stable area with the animals of the household. In this uncomfortable arrangement, Mary’s time comes and she gives birth to Jesus.
“Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began,”
Luke 1:67–70, NKJV
We see again a strong theme of Luke, that of the power and work of the Holy Spirit in God’s people. Through the Holy Spirit, Zacharias speaks here of Jesus, the son of Mary, not his son John. The Holy Spirit showed the elderly father the promise of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, another theme in Luke as he seeks to make his readers certain of what they have learned. Zacharias learned firsthand of the holiness of God through the miraculous birth of his son. Now, he will proclaim this truth to all the congregation.
So begins an exuberant praise song of Zacharias, the first words he is able to utter since being struck mute at his meeting with the Angel Gabriel at the altar. This prophetic song is known by its Latin name which is derived from the first word, Benedictus, which means “Blessed be”. The Benedictus is one of three songs found in the beginning of Luke. The other two are Mary’s Magnificat and Simeon’s song. All three are prophetic revelations encased in praise.
In this case, we imagine a man who for 9 months or more has been unable to speak one word because of his doubt of Gabriel’s proclamation that Elizabeth would have a baby at her advanced age. Now the baby, John the Baptist, is here and Zacharias obeyed God in naming the baby John. His ability to speak comes back and with it a praise-filled prophecy tumbles forth out of his long silent mouth.
He blesses God for:
Visiting his people
Redeeming his people
Raising up a salvation from the house of David
Fulfilling the word of the prophets of old
““Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,” (Luke 1:68, NKJV)
The godly priest realizes that God has begun the work of coming among and redeeming his people. Jesus is to be born as a baby and called Immanuel, God With Us. Redemption is coming through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! He was born as a humble baby, died as a suffering servant and rose as a victor!
Lord, We praise you and we thank you for sending your Son Jesus to live among us and redeem us. Through him came the salvation of the whole world and there can be no better gift! Help us to proclaim this joyous news to others especially during this Christmas season. Amen.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. John 13:14
Jesus spoke to his followers after he humbled himself to serve them. The washing of feet was a source of refreshing and relaxation. What had his followers been doing? Sharing the Good News, the Gospel, all around the region as commanded by Jesus. This was hard, physical work, walking from town to town on dusty roads wearing sandals. It was emotionally challenging as many refused to hear the message of truth and grace. The Twelve needed rest and encouragement. What better encouragement than to have your Master and teacher acknowledge your hard work and care for you?
Followers of Jesus today are likewise commanded to share the Gospel and make disciples. It’s still hard work.
Plan how you will intentionally minister to your brothers and sisters in Christ who work hard to teach and preach Jesus.
Won’t you humble yourself and serve, offering refreshing and encouragement to your fellow laborers for the Lord?
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5
Are Life and Light Needed?
As a baby laying in a manger in a barn, was Jesus really the Light and Life of the entire world? Weren’t light and life already present in the world? Yes, but not in the perfect way God intended.
John wants us to think deeply about this. He just recorded Jesus’ role in creation. He wants us to continue thinking about that time as we consider Jesus as Light and Life.
In chapter one of Genesis, God created life and light. Life and light were part of the perfect world God created for humanity in the Garden of Eden. God’s perfection was soon marred by man’s sin at The Fall.
From the time of The Fall to the birth of Jesus, the world awaited the promised Messiah, a Savior to deliver man from the death and darkness of sin and it’s consequences.
The Baby Brings What is Most Needed
Jesus, the baby in the manger, is that Messiah. He came to bring perfect light and everlasting life back into the world. True life is one lived with God, through God and for God into eternity. God’s light is one that cannot be extinguished and it draws people to him. All the perfect Life and Light came to earth as Jesus, a little baby of promise and power.
How are light and life related in Jesus Christ? Jesus’ life on earth, starting with his birth in a barn, was the light to dispel the darkness of sin. The light of Jesus came into the world that all might have life and have it more abundantly. Both Jesus’ light and life were shared that the world might be saved.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:1-2 (KJV)
The fantastic Good News of the Christmas message is found in the beginning of John’s Gospel. John, a Jew living among Greeks, wanted to reveal the identity of Jesus. The way he chose to approach this revelation was revolutionary in it’s depth and simplicity. By describing Jesus as the Word, the Logos, he was able to cross the cultural divide between the Greeks and the Jews and show a new dimension to the term.
John knew that in Jewish thought and life the Word signified:
1. Power. The Word was living and active. Words had great power throughout the New Testament. It was the Word of God that bought the universe into existence. Jesus is the power of creation.
2. Wisdom. The Word was the wisdom that was there since the beginning of time. This wisdom has a role in creation. Jesus is wisdom.
3. God. In Jewish religious ceremony at the time of John, the term “Word of God” was often used to describe God. The Targum translation, in widespread use at that time, used “Word of God” to replace every mention of God that referred to him in a human way (anthropomorphism). Jesus is God.
In Greek philosophy, Logos referred to reason. Reason or Logos was the invisible force that ordered the universe and all that happened within it. Without Logos, the world would be in chaos. Logos had a personal role in ruling the thoughts and lives of every human being. It also dictated the creation and maintenance of the universe. John, in the first few verses of his Gospel, brings his Greek readers to the astounding conclusion that Jesus fulfilled all the roles the they assigned to Logos because Jesus was Logos.
Verses 1 and 2 show 3 important things about the identity of Jesus. The:
1. Eternity of Jesus
2. Fellowship of Jesus (with the Father)
3. Divinity of Jesus
Jesus has always existed. He is eternal and outside of time. He could be there at the beginning because he had no beginning. John wanted his readers to understand that unlike any Greek god or created being, Jesus was “the God who is”.
Jesus exists with God the Father. Both are outside of time and have existed since the beginning. The fellowship of the Father with Jesus is an important theme throughout the book of John.
Jesus is God. He is fully divine as God. One with God, he shares all the attributes of God. John’s entire Gospel is designed to show us that Jesus is God.
In verses 1 and 2, John sets the foundation of who Jesus is. Come back for the next lesson as he continues on this journey.