Study Notes

Luke 1:1-25


Many people in the first century were witnessing of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But Luke knew that, like the game of telephone, that these accounts would become corrupted by time. Facts get mixed up. Stories get embellished. So Luke's undertaking was to put it in black and white. But so much had happened, the question was, what to write? The gospel of the apostle John ends with this statement:

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.

So, in the 24 chapters that are before us in the gospel of Luke, each of the events, each of the miracles of Jesus, each of the dialogues have been included for a specific reason. I see that as an invitation from the Lord. An invitation to both wonder and discover why He has chosen to put these specific things into His Word. We know that Jesus healed thousands of people. So when we come across a detailed account focusing on one of those healings, let's stop and wonder why we're getting the inside scoop on this particular one. Let's consider and savor everything that the Lord has given to us in this blessed book.


Now who was Luke? Luke, we know from the Scriptures, was a doctor. When we look at the Greek language he uses in this gospel and in the book of Acts which he also wrote, we see that not only is he well-educated, but he often uses medical terms in his descriptions. Paul had Luke with him when he wrote the letter to the Colossians, and wrote:

Col. 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings...


Not only was Luke a physician, but he was also a good investigative reporter as well. Luke's references were the eyewitnesses themselves. He wrote his gospel somewhere around 55 and 70AD, which meant that most everyone was still around to interview. As we'll see in chapter 2, he mentions twice that Mary "treasured up all these things in her heart." Only Luke mentions this - We can only deduce that these are Mary's own words! He got it straight from Mary herself!

In consecutive order

Another thing I appreciate about Luke is the fact that he went to the extra effort of putting things in chronological order. Luke is very helpful for reconciling differences in the four gospel accounts. When there is a question, Luke's order is the one we depend on.


The amazing thing is that Luke has gone to all of this trouble for one man. Both Luke and Acts are written to this one man - Theophilus. Because the position of physician was usually held by the slaves of wealthy men, it is assumed that Luke was a slave, and that Theophilus was Luke's owner. The theory goes that following his conversion to Jesus Christ, Theophilus set Luke free to travel with the apostle Paul.

Exact Truth

Finally, it is important to once again remind us all that we must be people who question everything. Luke says to Theophilus, "I've investigated everything, talked to the eyewitnesses, written it down in consecutive order,

Luke 1:4 so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Let us be people who know what we believe and why we believe it. Question everything that you've been taught about the Bible and Christianity. When Paul taught the people at Berea in Acts 17, the Bible says that they

Acts 17:11 ...were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

I want to be a person that the Bible would describe as noble-minded. Hopefully, you do too. So don't take my word for it. My word is nothing. God's Word is everything. Search the Scriptures daily to see if what you're being taught is true. In questioning and searching the Scriptures, your faith will grow huge, for:

Rom. 10:17 Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

The word of Christ, not the word of Ron. We need to know the exact truth about the things that we have been taught.



Both Zacharias and Elizabeth were descendants of Aaron, the first high priest - this was a coveted distinction. Plus, they were people of great faith in God and obedience to His law. But they weren't physically able to have any children. To any woman, this can of course often be devastating, but to a Jewish woman, the devastation would be multiplied many times over. For, since fruitfulness was considered a blessing from God, barrenness was a reproach. The Jews' entire culture - their history, their identity, their property - centered on the generational line. Now that line was broken. And they had gotten too old to even hope anymore.

They were barren, yet they were righteous in the sight of God. Many preachers will tell you today that you're barren, that you're not being blessed by God, because you don't have enough faith. They will tell you that you've not conceived, or gotten what you want because of your sin, your unrighteousness. But that is not God as He's shown Himself in the Bible - at this time in history, you couldn't be more righteous, faithful, and obedient than Zacharias and Elizabeth.

That teaching in the church today is wrong - dead wrong. But, in all fairness, it's not a new assumption - even the disciples asked about it. In John chapter 9, Jesus...

John 9:1-3 ...saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him."

This morning, if you're barren - if your heart is troubled, wounded, or devastated this morning, don't be condemned into believing that it is your lack of faith or your sinfulness that has put you in this predicament. It is not your sin - it is so that God can be glorified in you.



To enter the Holy Place and burn incense. This was the highest honor and most coveted service a priest could perform. At this time, there were upwards of 20,000 priests serving at the temple. The odds of being chosen in the daily lot were not good - certainly the odds of being chosen twice in a lifetime were unheard of. But this day, Zacharius was chosen - this was a once in a lifetime event.

The priest would enter into the Holy Place, trim the lamps and burn incense on the altar of incense. Now incense in the Bible speaks of the prayers of intercession. Long ago, when he and his wife were still young, Zacharias used to pray for a son. But now that they were senior citizens, there was no need to pray that anymore. Now his prayers went beyond his own needs. Now Zacharius was intent on intercession - he was in the Holy Place before God and he was praying for the people of Israel.


When Zacharius began to intercede globally, his prayer was answered personally. When the attention of his prayers diverted from his own situation to an outward direction, his own prayer was answered.

When the disciples asked Jesus, "Teach us to pray," Jesus taught them:

Matt. 6:9-13 "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.'"

How did Jesus teach us to pray? Globally. "May Your will be done on EARTH. Give US. Forgive US. Deliver US." When we direct the attention away from ourselves as individuals and begin to intercede for Israel, for the Body of Christ, for a lost and dying world, then our personal prayers and needs are taken care of.

Matt. 6:33 "...Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."

It is a shame that many have been taught to pray for their own wills to be done in their own lives, instead of for God's will to be done on the earth as it is in heaven.

Now not only was Zacharias' prayer answered, but an incredible thing takes place. Remember that the last time God spoke to His people was 400 years before in the book of Malachi. He had said so long before:

Mal. 4:5-6 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse."

And that was the last they'd heard from God. But now, He picks up the conversation and says, "Here's that prophet I promised you so long ago!" This can happen in our own lives. Many times God will be talking to us about our movings, our ministries, our missions, and then... nothing. What happened? Did He forget? Did I ruin it by doing something wrong? Remember,

2Pet. 3:8 ...that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

God can pick up a conversation that was left off years ago. Don't let go of the promises of God.


Even without being able to speak, Zacharias continued his priestly service, which was a Sabbath to Sabbath week. Even with so great a handicap, he continued to serve God in the work of the ministry. Many times the Lord will call you to minister when you're wounded. When you're hurt. When you can't even speak. What a tremendous opportunity to get your eyes off of yourself and your circumstances, and focused on doing the work of the Lord. There is no greater cure for your personal pity party than to minister to someone who needs you.


I can't help but think that if this happened today, Elizabeth would be giving her testimony in churches, she'd write a best-selling book, and start a $2-a-minute prayer line 1-900-number. Why would Elizabeth go into seclusion for five months when she could have been Mrs. Instant Celebrity? She said, "THIS is the way the Lord has dealt with ME... The Lord was waiting... so now I'll wait on Him. The Lord seemed hidden... so now I'll hide with Him."

When the Lord performs a miracle in my life, it is to His glory, not mine. I see in Elizabeth a humility, a powerful love for God, and a desire to make sure that she is devoted, not promoted. She goes into seclusion for five months - just her and her Lord. "God waited for just the right time, and now I'm going to do the same." When God does something spectacular in our lives, do we seek God or seek glory? Do we seek to be devoted or seek to be promoted? Let us be as Elizabeth - give the glory to God.

Throughout these first 25 verses, I see a pattern developing under the surface. Luke putting out so much effort just so Theophilus would know the exact truth. Zacharius beginning to pray globally, interceding for the people of Israel. Continuing to minister through a very difficult week. Elizabeth seeking God instead of seeking glory. And through it all, the Lord Himself beginning the work which will ultimately lead to the death of His Son. There is a uniformity to this - taking the focus off of ourselves and directing it outward. We have so much love and ministry to give to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and to a lost and dying world. Let's re-focus. Let's re-direct. It is then that we will see re-vival.