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Study in Luke’s Gospel
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  1. Study in Luke’s Gospel Presentation 01

  2. Gospel Preparation Chap 1v1-8 Presentation 01

  3. Introduction People often ask why we have four gospel records in our N.T. Quite simply, they provide four complementary portraits of Jesus. Each of the gospels was written for a different audience by different authors. For this reason, we should expect the content and style of each gospel to be different, while at the same time expect to find a wonderful harmony between them. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience and his gospel presents Jesus as King of the Jews, Mark's gospel is addressed to Gentiles and presents Christ as the Obedient Servant, John writes to a sophisticated Greek audience and presents Christ as the eternal Son of God. Presentation 01

  4. Introduction Luke’s gospel, which focuses upon the humanity of Jesus, reveals the author’s particular concern for the whole world and for the poor and needy within the world. It was written by Luke, the physician, the close friend and companion of Paul. It is the first of two volumes [the other being the book of Acts] which was written to a man called ‘Theophilus’, which means “lover of God”. Theophilus was a man of noble rank and of excellent character, who is being provided with the fruit of Luke’s careful and prolonged gospel research. Presentation 01

  5. The Author's Approach Luke tells us he knew of others who had passed on teaching about Jesus in both written and oral form. Luke’s intention was to gather this information together and set it down in an orderly fashion. His gospel could be confirmed by the testimony of eyewitnesses whom he’d interviewed, including the apostles. This gospel is the product of exhaustive research. In addition to this, we need to recognise the guiding and inspiring hand of the Holy Spirit behind Luke’s writing. The Holy Spirit did not treat Luke like a portable typewriter but rather worked in and through his reason to produce for us one of the most comprehensive of the four gospels. Presentation 01

  6. The Starting Point Ask why Luke opens his gospel with an account of Zechariah and Elizabeth? He wants us to understand something of supreme importance. Prior to this incident there had been no supernatural communication from heaven to any Israelite for a period of 400 years. No angelic messengers, no prophetic word, only a long, long silence! When God did eventually break through that silence to whom did he speak? God did not address Herod, the temporal leader of the Jewish nation. Herod was a power crazy, insecure megalomaniac - he was bypassed. Presentation 01

  7. The Starting Point Nor did God approach the ecclesiastical leader of the nation - the high priest. At that time a wealthy land-owning family, jealous of their status and prestige had a monopoly on the high priesthood. They belonged to the religious party of the Sadducees. Their interests were more material and political than spiritual - they did not believe in angels or the supernatural! And so significantly, the high priesthood was bypassed. Presentation 01

  8. The Starting Point God made contact with an insignificant ageing country priest called Zechariah! What qualifications did he and his wife Elizabeth have for being involved in the great work of God that was about to rise out of the pages of history? Quite simply they were a godly couple v6. They were careful in their religious and moral life. They lived in order to please God. Whenever God breaks into history in order to advance his purposes, where does he look? Not at a man's position or influence in society but into his heart. Then he asks, “Is this the sort of man/woman I can use?” Presentation 01

  9. The Starting Point Think back in Israel's history to the beginning of the monarchy. Israel wanted a king so they could be like the other nations and God gave them the sort of king they wanted. They chose thekind of man who would win a Mr. Universe competition and at the same time would probably have been voted in High School as ‘the man most likely to succeed’! Saul was such a man! But in the end he proved to be a disastrous king - he was rotten in the core. "Right", said God, "You have had your kind of leader, now I will choose my kind of man". Presentation 01

  10. The Starting Point The prophet Samuel was sent to anoint a new king. Samuel could hardly believe God's choice – David, a wiry youth smelling of sheep! Samuel’s superficial method of judgement was soon exposed, when God reminded him, “Man looks on the outer appearance but God looks on the heart” 1Sam. 16v7. David proved to be the best king Israel ever had. Why? He was “a man after my own heart”. That is the qualification God looks for in those called to serve in his kingdom. Men and women who are determined, by God's grace, to live for him. Are we the sort of people whom God could use? Presentation 01

  11. Stepping Back From Human Tragedy A significant shadow that hung over Zechariah and Elizabeth’s lives. They were childless and that carried a terrible stigma in Israel. For years they had prayed for a child. Now their problem was compounded, not only by Elizabeth's infertility, but by the fact that they were both old. It was when their situation seemed most hopeless that God acted and the promise of a child was made. Why had their prayers not been answered earlier? God was waiting for just the right time. God had plans for this child and in order to fit in with God’s timescale a period of delay was necessary. Presentation 01

  12. Stepping Back From Human Tragedy Does this help us to understand many of our personal tragedies? We are baffled by what we consider to be God's indifference to our needs. God may appear cold and uncaring. We are often unable to step back and see the broader canvas upon which God is working. All Zechariah and Elizabeth could see was the denial of something they badly wanted. But God, if only they could have heard him, was whispering, “Your vision is blinkered, trust in my timing”. Does this help us come to terms with some of the frustrations of life, the unanswered prayers, the delays of God? Presentation 01

  13. Stepping Back From Human Tragedy This period of delay has a further lesson to teach. Sometimes we want the gifts of God so badly we can view them as our rights. How many parents treat their children as their possessions! They believe they have the right to plan out their future. But sometimes those plans conflict with God's. Perhaps God wants our children to serve him at home or overseas. Parents can forget that children are a trust from God and they refuse to let them go. Where that is likely to happen does God sometimes withhold his good gifts until the parents are prepared to return them to their rightful owner. Think of the experience of Hannah in 1Samuel 1… Presentation 01

  14. More Than We Bargain For God often gives us much more than we are asking for. Zechariah and Elizabeth longed for a child. A child would remove the social stigma which was theirs. Clearly, childlessness had proved to be a very sore experience for Elizabeth in particular cf. v25"The Lord…has taken away my disgrace among the people". Now the remarkable thing is this that God gave them infinitely more than they were asking. They wanted a child who would remove their disgrace. God's messenger told them their son would be the forerunner of the Messiah. C.f. Mal. 4.5-6 now these last words recorded in the O.T. are used by Gabriel to describe the child that God was about to give them “He will go on before the Lord…”v17 Presentation 01

  15. More Than We Bargain For This child was to be called ‘John’ which means "God is gracious". Elizabeth and Zechariah wanted the removal of social stigma. God provided a grace gift, much more than their wildest dreams - something that would captivate Zechariah’s thinking , “And you my child will be called a prophet of the Most High” v76. We sometimes come to God looking for a ‘little blessing’ and God says, "I'll give you much more". The refusals and delays of God often mean that he has some better thing for us. Young people disappointed in romance find ‘some better thing’. Some people disappointed in job interviews find some better thing. Christians disappointed that some sphere of service did not open up for them find some better thing! Presentation 01

  16. Hard To Swallow We are strange creatures. We find it so hard to believe that God can be gracious towards us. We can dis-grace the grace of God by refusing to believe his promises. Note Zechariah’s initial response, “How can I be sure of this..” v18 Sometimes we pray for things but don't really believe God will answer. We read in Acts 12 that when Peter was in prison awaiting execution, the church prayed for his release. God sprung Peter from prison. Peter made his way to the church prayer meeting. When he knocked on the door asking admission the believers inside refused to believe it could be him! They could not believe that God had actually answered their prayer! Presentation 01

  17. Hard To Swallow Zechariah's behaviour was much more culpable than that of the church prayer meeting. In what way? God sent his top angel to tell him that his prayer had been heard and a son would be born. But Zechariah’s reply was really asking, “How can I be sure you are telling the truth?” The bare word of God was not enough for him. No wonder he experienced angelic indignation in v19 and was both rebuked and chastened. Unbelief can throw an almighty spanner in the works! Presentation 01

  18. Hard To Swallow How often are we like Zechariah? We too, refuse to believe the bare word of God for it seems too good to be true. Think of some of the remarkable promises made in the gospel; the promise of forgiveness, the promise of a new life and a new nature which will totally transform us, the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit whose job is to make us more like Jesus, the promise of a place in God’s family, the promise of eternal life… Do we approach these promises and say to God, “How can I be sure you are telling the truth”. Presentation 01

  19. Hard To Swallow God cannot bless unbelief. His word is to be believed and received. He is the God of the impossible! It may seem to you that the gospel has no power to change and transform you, and that you are beyond this kind of change, or that it is too late for you to experience such a transformation! Learn from Zechariah’s mistake and meet God's word of promise with faith, take it with both hands. Give God the opportunity to work in your life. Then stand back and watch him do so. Presentation 01

  20. Conclusion The reason God often refuses to patch up people’s lives and say ‘yes’ to their prayers is that he wants to do for them more than they ask. Sometimes our wives will say, “I am just going out for some milk” but return will bags and bags of shopping, much more than they had originally intended. On arrival at the shops they were overcome by what was on offer! Similarly, we sometimes take our request to God for some minor improvement and he smiles, shakes his head and says, ‘Oh I am going to do much more than that!’ He wants to make us like Jesus, nothing less! He wants to give us much more than we bargained for? Will you believe him to do all that he has promised? Presentation 01