Birth of Hope
Weekly Word: Lesson 2
Luke: Message of Hope
THE BIRTH OF HOPE:
It was a time much like ours. No, there were no cars or computers or airplanes, but there was the struggle to earn a decent living, the challenge to raise good children, the need to get along with the neighbors. There were political and economic challenges. There was poverty and injustice. There were births and deaths, health and sickness, joys and sorrows. There were ups and downs, but mostly life was lived “in the middle” – one day like the next. The last promise from God had been that He would send Elijah to prepare the way for the Lord (Malachi 4:5-6), but that promise had been given four hundred years ago. Where was God? Had He forgotten them? They needed hope! It was into this world that God suddenly burst forth in a prophesied, yet unexpected way.
You and I need hope, too. Much of our lives, even as Kingdom servants, are lived “in the middle.” God and His promises sometimes seem distant. We hunger for intimacy with our Lord. We desire to see fruit from our service. We see problems in our families and our world and we cry for wisdom and help. The same hope Luke records is available to us today.
As we study Luke’s message, to receive this hope for yourself, personalize your study by putting yourself into each passage. With whom do you most identify? How would you have responded if you had been there? What lesson was the Lord teaching that person? Then respond to the revelation the Lord gives you today.
I. DAY ONE: John’s Birth Foretold (Luke 1:5-25)
A. Revelation to Zechariah
- I’m guessing that Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for a child for 30 years or so without that prayer being answered. From verses 5-7, what do you learn about the character of Zechariah and Elizabeth? Why do you think they were childless?
- Read verses 8-9. The priests were divided into 24 groups with each division serving in the temple 2 weeks out of the year. Because of the large number of priests, each person could only hope to serve in the temple once in his lifetime. What does the fact that Zechariah was chosen at this time say to you about God’s sovereignty? (See Proverbs 16:33)
- From verses 10-17, what were the people (and Zechariah) doing when the angel appeared?
- It was customary that the priest who offered the evening sacrifice in the Holy Place would pray for the redemption of Israel. How does Gabriel’s message answer that request as well as Zechariah’s personal prayers over the years for a son?
- What was John’s role to be? What would be the source of power for fulfilling that role?
- How did the promise of verse 17 give hope that the Messiah would be coming soon? (See Malachi 3:1)
B. Response of Zechariah
- From verse 18, was Zechariah’s focus on his problem or on God’s sovereignty? If you had been Zechariah, how would you have responded?
- We can commend Zechariah for his honest assessment of the facts, but what should he have remembered about God?
- What impossible situation are you facing? What does your practice of prayer reveal about your true beliefs about God? Is your trust in God equally strong whether He answers your request or not? What message has He given you from Scripture regarding your prayer request?
- What does James 1:6-7 say about our attitude when we pray? Is Psalm 5:3 true of you?
- On a personal note, years ago I struggled with infertility. I reminded God of the miracles he worked in Sarah, Hannah and Mary, and then asked Him in desperation what He had to say to me from His Word. I have a note in my Bible next to the Scripture He gave me to hang on to with my weak faith. It is a “memorial stone” to me of God’s faithfulness. May I encourage you to keep a prayer journal, recording Scripture God gives you next to your request?
II. DAY TWO: Jesus’ Birth Foretold (Luke 1:26-56)
A. Revelation to Mary
- In verses 26-30, the same angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary, and she had the same initial response. How did the angel respond to her natural fear?
- From verses 31-33, give at least three facts about this son which Mary would bear.
B. Response of Mary
- How does Mary’s question in verse 34 differ from Zechariah’s question in verse 18?
- Gabriel’s explanation in verse 35 is beyond our understanding, but does make clear that this birth would not be the result of a sexual union, that is, God would not have intercourse with Mary. Rather, it would be a miraculous, supernatural conception. As a result, this baby would be the Son of God. Therefore He would be holy, not having a sin nature, and would in fact be both human and divine. (Compare with Matthew 1:18; John 1:1, 14)
- Mary’s response in verse 38 is simple yet profound. What were some of the risks she faced by saying “yes” to God? Is there any area of her life which she held back?
- How does your commitment to God compare to Mary’s? Compare Mark 12:30 with Romans 12:1-2. What makes this level of submission to God possible?
C. Mary’s Magnificat
- Read verses 39-45. How would Mary’s visit with her relative, Elizabeth, have encouraged her spiritually? Emotionally? Mentally?
- Notice in verse 42 that Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, said Mary was blessed among women, not above women. What does that imply to you?
- If available, read verses 46-55 in another translation.
- What do you learn about Mary’s relationship with God from her song of praise?
- What do you learn about Mary’s knowledge of God’s character? Notice she praises His attributes, not just His actions. What are some of those attributes?
- What do you learn about Mary’s knowledge of Scripture? (For example, compare verse 55 with Genesis 17:7. If you have time, use your cross reference guide to find other quotations from the Old Testament.)
- How did these traits prepare Mary to be the mother of Jesus?
- Which of the above traits are true of you?
III. DAY THREE: The Birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-80)
A. Zechariah’s obedience
- Although Zechariah doubted, he nevertheless obeyed. Is that true of us? When we doubt, or don’t understand, do you and I still obey?
- Read verses 57-66 and tell how both parents exhibited their faith in God.
- What impact did Zechariah and Elizabeth’s faith have on others?
B. Zechariah’s praise
- Read Zechariah’s song of praise in verses 67-79. Who inspired this prophetic song?
- Verses 68-75 refer to previous promises which God was about to fulfill through Mary’s son. The following references contain some of those promises: Genesis 22:16-18; II Samuel 7:11-16; Psalm 89:3-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6.
- What does Zechariah say God is doing in verses 68-69?
- From verses 74-75, why is God doing this?
- Verses 76-79 prophesy the ministry of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son. (Earlier we read Malachi’s prophecies in 3:1 and 4:5-6. We will read of their fulfillment in chapter 3.)
- From verse 77, what message of hope will their son, John, proclaim?
C. From verses 6 and 80, what are some factors which prepared John for his future ministry?
IV. DAY FOUR: The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-20)
A. Jesus’ birth
- Read Matthew 1:18-25 for the story from the perspective of Joseph, Jesus’ “step-father.”
- Do you, like me, include the reading of Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth as part of your Christmas celebration? I remember the year my children memorized it as their gift to their grandpa. I can still recite most of it. If there are children in your sphere of influence, perhaps you might consider helping them memorize this important passage.
- How did God use a Roman law to fulfill a prophecy? (See Micah 5:2) What does this reveal about God’s sovereignty?
- Verse 7 says Jesus was Mary’s firstborn child. This implies that later she had other children. Matthew 13:55-56 confirms this.
- When you consider the fact that Jesus was the very Son of God, the simplicity of His humble birth is stunning. Read Philippians 2:6-8.
B. Revelation to shepherds
- Shepherds were at the bottom of the social order in Israel, in fact they were so despised they weren’t even allowed to be witnesses in a court of law! What hope does it give you that the first birth announcement of the Son of God was to humble shepherds?
- For whom was joy and peace available (verses 10 and 14)?
C. Response of shepherds
- How do verses 15-16 describe the attitude and effort of the shepherds in seeking Jesus?
- After finding Jesus, how did they respond in verses 17 and 20?
- How does your response compare to theirs?
V. DAY FIVE: Luke 2:21-40
A. Revelation to Simeon
- Verses 21-24 describe Mary and Joseph’s obedience to the angel regarding Jesus’ name, and their care to fully obey the Law of Moses. First, Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day as a child of the Abrahamic covenant (Leviticus 12:3). Then on the 40th day, Mary and Joseph came to the temple to present their firstborn son to the Lord (See Exodus 13:1-2).1 They also brought an offering for the purification rites required after childbirth. Their offering indicates they were poor people. (Leviticus 12:1-8)
- We don’t know Simeon’s age – he could have been either young or old. What four things do we know about him from verses 25-26?
- Describe Simeon’s response to seeing the infant Jesus.
- When Simeon referred to the salvation God was providing, was he referring to a ritual to be performed or to a person to be trusted?
- For whom was God preparing “salvation” according to verses 31-32?
- Certainly Mary experienced much joy as well as much sorrow in her unique role as Jesus’ mother. John 19:34 records the specific fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy in Luke 2:35.
B. Revelation to Anna
- Anna was elderly. Being widowed at any age is extremely difficult and women handle it in various ways, some healthy, some not. Anna’s age and status did not prevent her from being useful in God’s service. From verse 37, how was Anna investing her time as a widow?
- From verse 38, what word describes why Jesus came? Look up “redemption” in your dictionary. How does that concept relate to our salvation?
C. Revelation to “Wise Men”
- Matthew 2:1-12 describes the revelation of the birth of Jesus to Magi in the east sometime later.2
- How much time, effort and expense do you think it cost the Magi to search for and find Jesus? What did it cost you?
- What was their response when they found Him? What was your response?
- With which person in this week’s lesson do you most identify? Why?
- In this week’s study, Mary, Zechariah, and others, each “sang” praise to God that what He had promised He was about to do. Take a few moments to write in your journal a “song of praise” to God for what He has done for you. If you can, include Scripture which is meaningful to you in your “song.”
1 The Law also required that each firstborn son to the Lord be “redeemed” (Exodus 34:20). At this time it was done by paying five shekels. (Also see I Peter 1:18-19 for a description of how Jesus who was “redeemed” became our Redeemer. Wiersbe, Warren W., The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 1. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989, p.177).
2 For more on the Wise Men, see the Matthew study, Lesson 2, Day four. https://www.womenoftheharvest.com/word/word_week200.htm
© 2013 Thrive.
About the author
Raised in a Christian family, Pat Laube learned early that one must trust in Jesus alone to have a personal relationship with God. Pat was educated in the field of nursing, specializing in coronary care. Subsequently, Pat began to be impressed by the power God's Word had to change lives and became involved in various Bible studies, including Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). Serving for a number of years in BSF as a Substitute Teaching Leader, Pat gained a deep love for communicating God's Word to women. Pat and her husband, Dave are actively involved in their church in the areas of music and missions. Dave has served on a mission board for a number of years, and together they have attended mission conferences in Europe, as well as being long-time supporters of ThriveMinistries. They have a single adult daughter who has served short term in Africa, and a married daughter, son-in-law and “grand-dog.” Pat and Dave live in Golden, Colorado.View all articles by: Pat Laube
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