“…since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (vv3-4)
The ‘Good News’ must be accurate and historically truthful in order to be believable and life-transforming. We are not just telling people ‘stories’ with a positive moral spin or uplifting message. Luke’s first job is to convince the reader that the Good News finds its greatness in its authenticity and accuracy. “If Christ has not been raised from the dead than our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:15).
“And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”. (v17)
Our role today as God’s people is strikingly similar to John the Baptist’s: We assist the Holy Spirit in making people’s hearts ready to receive Jesus today, and on the Day of his Return. We prepare the way for the Lord.
“And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (v20)
Zechariah was punished by the Lord for his unbelief in the words of God’s Messenger. This mature priest had even prayed for a son and yet would not receive a direct confirmation from God. If he would not listen, then he would not talk until he did listen!
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail”. “I am the Lord’s servant”, Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (vv34-38)
By comparison, Mary was a very young woman, unmarried and immature in her faith. She was entitled to have two issues clarified: a moral one, since she was unmarried, and a biological one, since she was not having sexual relations with anyone. The angel was pleased to explain. From God’s point of view, it was important that she willingly consented – what would have happened if she had said ‘No’? And then a social and biological miracle then occurred: “The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him ‘God With Us’” (Isaiah 7:14).
“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!” (v45)
That applied to Mary, but it also applies to each one of us today. Faith in God’s promises produces joy, happiness, and fulfilment.
Compare Mary’s Song of verses 46-55 with Hannah’s in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. They are strikingly similar!
“Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John”. Immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.” (vv63-64)
Zechariah finally caught up with the plot and believed the Lord. He obeyed by naming his son as God had already named him. He had listened, and so was enabled to speak again. Let us also listen to the God who speaks to us!