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Lesson 1: The Coming of Jesus *

Introduction: We start a new series studying the Gospel of Luke. I'm excited, and I hope you are too. Luke is a physician and a historian. He is an educated man who is writing for a non-Jewish audience. When you write, do you want to be clear? I know some writers are more concerned about you concluding that they are smart, rather than being clear. Luke wants to be clear. He suggests that he will bring a better account than any prior accounts of the life of Jesus. Let's dig into Luke and his clear teachings about our Lord Jesus!

  1. The Background

    1. Read Luke 1:1-2. How many have written an account of the life of Jesus? (Luke says that "many" undertook to make an account.)

      1. Why do you think that happened? (Notice that Luke mentions "handed down" by "eyewitnesses" who believed in Jesus. The more alert followers of Jesus realized that it was important to pass down an accurate account from those who actually witnessed Jesus' life - and that would require writing it down.)

      2. When Luke refers to those things "fulfilled," what do you think he means? (He believes that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. Thus, Luke believes that Jesus continues the message of the Old Testament.)

    2. Read Luke 2:3-4. If many have already written an account, why does Luke think he needs to write one? (When Luke uses the term "orderly account," that tells me he thinks prior accounts are missing something important - a proper order.)

      1. How accurate an account is Luke making? (He is familiar with "many" other accounts. He says he has "carefully investigated everything from the beginning" so that those who read his account may have "certainty" about what happened. Sounds wonderful to me!)

    3. Read Acts 1:1-3. What does this tell us about Luke's writings? (He is the historian of the early church. He wrote his first volume (the Gospel of Luke) to record Jesus' teachings and actions until the time He was taken to heaven. The second volume is about the proof of Jesus' resurrection and the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the early church.)

      1. Aside from Luke's assurance that he is being careful, accurate and orderly, why should we believe his accounts? (We see that he is convinced. He has been involved, he has investigated, and he believes that Jesus is the Messiah.)

  2. John the Baptist

    1. Read Luke 1:5-7. We have a short biography of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Are they good people? (Yes.)

      1. Are they happy people? (They are getting old and they missed the joy of having children.)

    2. Read Luke 1:8-13. Did Zechariah and Elizabeth care about not having children? (Yes. They have apparently been praying about this for a long time.)

      1. How do you react when you are obedient to God, you have been asking for a long time for some good thing, and God does nothing? (Heaven kept a record of their prayers for a child.)

      2. How did Zechariah come to be in the temple? (He was both assigned (with his group) to temple duty, and he was chosen by "lot" to serve inside the temple.)

        1. Do you think this is unnecessary detail? (No. It shows how God used existing order and divine direction to put Zechariah and the angel together.)

    3. Read Luke 1:14-17. Study these words carefully, What is the angel saying about the future of their son, John?

      1. Now think about all of the rebellious thoughts that Zechariah and Elizabeth could have had (and probably did have) against God. They were obedient, yet the desire of their lives was withheld from them. What lesson do we learn about prayers that seem unanswered? (God has something much greater in mind. We need to trust God's love for us!)

    4. Read Luke 1:18-20. What does this tell us about Zechariah's faith? (Look again at Luke 1:6. He is called "upright" and "blameless." Praise God for His generous view of us! When the prayer of Zechariah's life is about to be fulfilled, he expresses doubt!)

      1. Consider Gabriel's reaction to Zechariah's doubt. What would you have said if you were Gabriel? (I would have been irritated with his doubt. "Remember those prayers of yours?" "I've come a long way." "How many angels have you talked to in the past?")

      2. How did Gabriel "prove" his statement? (He describes his "credentials." Then he brings immediate proof of the credibility of his words.)

  3. Jesus

    1. Read Luke 1:26-28. The sixth month of what? (We skipped reading a few verses. If you look at Luke 1:24 you will see that the story picks up in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy. Gabriel is traveling to earth at least twice a year!)

      1. How would you like this greeting?

    2. Read Luke 1:29. Why would Mary be troubled? (If someone walked up to me with many compliments, I might wonder what that person wanted.)

    3. Read Luke 1:30-33. Do you have high hopes for your children? Take just a few moments and consider what Mary learned about the future of her Son!

    4. Read Luke 1:34. Of all the questions Mary might have asked about this amazing prophecy, why does she ask this one? (This one has the most immediate impact on her.)

      1. Compare what Mary asked in Luke 1:34 with what Zachariah asked in Luke 1:18. Which is better? (Zachariah wanted a guarantee that Gabriel was telling the truth, whereas Mary wanted to understand the process.)

    5. Read Luke 1:35-38. What do you think about Mary's faith?

    6. Is God still in the business of selecting special children for special parents?

  4. The Birth of Jesus

    1. Read Luke 2:1-7. Let's consider what we have discussed so far. God arranged for Zachariah to be at the right place to meet the angel, God performed a miracle for the births of John and Jesus. Is God on vacation when Jesus is born? Why not also work out a room and bed in the inn?

      1. What do you think Mary thought about the great contrast between her circumstances and the fact her child was the Messiah/King? (God has a strategy. I think that strategy has something to do with humans being able to identify with their incarnate God.)

    2. Read Luke 2:8-15. Why did the angels appear to shepherds? Were these the prominent citizens of the day? (Read Genesis 46:34. It was not a top profession, at least not in Egypt. I think God's strategy is getting clearer.)

    3. Read Luke 2:16-20. What was Mary pondering? Do you think it was that the arrival of her King was not exactly how she would have imagined it? Or, is she still having trouble adjusting to the idea that her Son is the Messiah/King, and these shepherds just confirmed that He was "Christ the Lord" ( Luke 2:11)?

    4. Read Luke 2:25-27. How important is the Holy Spirit in the life of Simeon? (He was a Spirit-filled man, just as we should be.)

      1. What do you think about the angels speaking to the shepherds and the Holy Spirit speaking to Simeon? (This is heaven's coordinated effort.)

    5. Read Luke 2:28-33. Why were Mary and Joseph amazed at Simeon's statement? (This shows they still had not completely grasped the nature of their Son.)

      1. What do you think about his reference to the Gentiles? (Good news for us!)

      2. Simeon follows the shepherds in meeting Jesus. Why not let the Spirit-filled guy who was waiting for Jesus be first? (More of God's strategy? Consider Matthew 9:13.)

    6. Friend, what do you think of a God who gives up so much to be with us? When I asked you to consider God's strategy, was it a strategy to benefit God? Of course not. What about deciding today to adopt a strategy of life that will benefit others?

  5. Next week: Baptism and the Temptations.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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