Friday, December 30, 2016


MATTHEW 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-7
Mary’s Baby Born to Be Savior

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 

In the Jewish culture of that day, parents chose a mate for their children, sometimes while they were still quite young. From that point, they were considered engaged. When they came of age, a date was set for the wedding and the man began preparing a place for his bride to live. At this point they were considered “betrothed” and if they decided not to marry, the man would need to divorce his wife. With the assumption that Mary had been unfaithful to her betrothed husband, Joseph could have had her publicly humiliated and even STONED TO DEATH as an adulteress! So Joseph was going to do an extremely kind thing in divorcing her quietly and sending her away from the prying eyes of their home town. Joseph was merciful even though he did not yet know the true origin of Mary’s baby. He knew he was not the father, so the only logical assumption was that she had been unfaithful. Joseph was upright in heart and a man of integrity, but he did not assume a “holier than thou” position. He was merciful rather than judgmental.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

God sent an angel to explain the situation to Joseph in a dream. I’m sure Mary had tried to give Joseph an explanation, but he probably found it hard to believe. The angel announcer of Heaven was probably Gabriel, sent to let Joseph know not to fear going ahead with the plan to marry Mary because it was part of God’s redemptive planHe let Joseph in on a bit of the divine masterplan. He reminded Joseph that he was descended from David as was Mary. Then he pointed out that Mary’s pregnancy was orchestrated by the Holy Ghost, making the baby the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah. The angel instructed Joseph to name the baby Jesus meaning “Jehovah is generous, Jehovah saves” because He would save His people from their sins. Jesus would later declare, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Matthew 1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

This miraculous birth fulfilled one of the many prophecies concerning the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, Jesus. 
Isaiah 7:14 (KJV) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Zacharias and Elizabeth were blessed to be chosen by God to bring forth the forerunner of the Redeemer. Mary and Joseph were given the honor and responsibility of parenting the very Son of God.

Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Joseph realized this dream was truly from the Lord God and obeyed what the angel told himJoseph restrained his physical, human desire for intimacy and kept Mary chaste until after Jesus was born. He named the baby Jesus as the angel had instructed him. The gospel of Luke gives more details of the birth of Jesus. 

Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

Luke sets the birth of the Savior into a historical timeframe, naming the Caesar and the governor for accuracy.

Luke 1:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

The Roman emperor wanted to have an accurate count of every family in order to impose taxes on them. The fact that Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem reiterates that he was descended from King David and fulfills the Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem in Hebrew means “house of bread”. Jesus would later be called the Bread of Life. He also compared Himself to manna at one point.

John 6:35 (VOICE) Jesus: I am the bread that gives life. If you come to My table and eat, you will never go hungry. Believe in Me, and you will never go thirsty.

Luke 2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 

Mary had traveled with Joseph even in the final month of her pregnancy. By the time they reached Bethlehem, she must have been exhausted, but they had no place to stay except a stable. I am sure the inns were packed because David had many descendants (as the Lord had promised him) that had to travel there. Jesus was laid in a feeding trough, which goes back to the Bread of Life again. The Eternal being placed in a feeding trough because He is the food, the life source of man. 

Ponder This: There was no room for God the Son in the inn, but how often do we have so much “stuff” crammed into the inn of our heart, that Jesus is crowded out of our consciousness?

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Luke 1:57-66, 80 ELIZABETH

Luke 1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

Just as the angel had told Zacharias, Elizabeth gave birth to a boy. Like her ancestor Sarah before her, she had a healthy pregnancy despite being past the age of childbearing.

Luke 1:58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.

As the angel had predicted, this baby brought  great joy, not only to Zacharias and Elizabeth, but also to their extended family and community.

Luke 1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

Whoever spoke first wanted to make the baby Zacharias’ namesake, but Elizabeth spoke up and said that he was to be called John instead. This must have shocked the midwives because tradition was to name the firstborn after his father. However, Elizabeth was obeying what the angel had told Zacharias in the temple. Her husband must have communicated the command of the angel to her even though he still could not speak.

Luke 1:61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

Not only was John not one of Zacharias’ names, but the name was found nowhere in their family tree as far as anyone near them knew. So, in improvised sign language, they asked Zacharias what to name the baby. Never make assumptions about someone’s limitations. The priests must have assumed that since Zacharias could not speak that he was deaf as well. Wrong.

Luke 1:63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

Zacharias motioned for a writing table and let them all know that he wanted to name the baby John. People were disconcerted at this, but the most astonishing thing happened next. His obedience in naming the child John in accordance with the angel Gabriel’s declaration enabled him to speak again! This time, instead of doubting, Zacharias affirmed the work of the Lord through his praises.

Luke 1:65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

The neighbors were filled with the fear of the Lord and spread the news of this miraculous birth everywhere they went. They made a point to remember the events of Zacharias being unable to speak and then healed of dumbness as soon as he confirmed the name of baby John. They wondered what he might grow up to be! They probably were not envisioning camel hair clothing and eating locusts and honey! Those who were discerning, in tune with the Spirit of the Lord, knew that God was with John even throughout his childhood among them.

In verses 67 through 79, Zacharias praises God and prophesies about his son which we will explore next year in “The Men of Christmas.”

Luke 1:80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Elizabeth’s miracle son grew stronger and stronger in the Lord. As a man he spent time with God in the desert until it was the appointed time for him to prepare the way of the Messiah. John (who became known as the Baptist or the Baptizer) spent much time alone with his God, and God prepared his heart to preach the good news and be the first to point to Jesus as the Perfect Lamb of God. You can read about this in the first few chapters of the Gospel of John (the disciple, not this John).

Ponder This: Elizabeth and Zacharias were devout Jews. Zacharias may have even been praying about Elizabeth’s barrenness when Gabriel spoke to him, yet he was still amazed and unbelieving that the words of the angel could be true. Do we pray expecting an answer and then doubt it when it comes? Not sure where I heard this, but “If you are going to pray for rain, carry your umbrella.” 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016



Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

Mary may have fled Nazareth to avoid gossip and unkind stares as her pregnancy developed, but I believe she wanted to see the miracle of Elisabeth’s pregnancy in person as well. Mary may have wanted to avoid prying eyes and whispering lips as her own pregnancy developed. 

Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

When Mary spoke a greeting to her relative Elisabeth, the unborn baby John jumped for joy! Elisabeth was overjoyed as she was overcome by the Spirit of the Lord.

Luke 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

John, who Gabriel foretold would be filled with the Spirit in the womb, leapt when Mary greeted His mother. An UNBORN baby was the first to recognize the Savior while HE was yet UNBORN. This is a strong argument for the fact that an embryo is already the person God is forming inside their mother.
Embryo John’s reaction, caused Elizabeth who was also filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment he moved within her to rejoice as well. Elizabeth questioned her worthiness to be visited by the mother of the Son of God, but she boldly prophesied concerning Mary because the Holy Spirit empowered her. Elizabeth called Mary “the mother of my Lord,” which says that she already believed Jesus would be the Messiah. No human had told her this. Mary had just arrived, so they had not had time to even discuss the fact that Mary was pregnant and all that Gabriel had told her. The Holy Spirit prompted Elizabeth to honor Mary’s faith in believing the Lord. Somehow, in the moment that baby John moved excitedly in her womb, the Lord caused Elizabeth to know exactly what was going on with her relative, Mary. For this moment in time, the Lord was using Elizabeth as His prophetess.

John MacArthur Study Bible
1:46–55 Mary’s Magnificat (the first word in the Latin translation; see notes on vv. 68–79; 2:29–32) is filled with OT allusions and quotations. It reveals that Mary’s heart and mind were saturated with the Word of God. It contains repeated echoes of Hannah’s prayers, e.g., 1 Sam. 1:11; 2:1–10. These verses also contain numerous allusions to the law, the psalms, and the prophets. The entire passage is a point-by-point reciting of the covenant promises of God.

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Mary broke out rejoicing in song, humbly praising the Lord for all He was doing through her.  This is known as the Magnificat because that is the first word of Mary’s praise song in Latin. Mary says that her soul magnifies, exalts the Lord. She identifies God as Savior, highlighting the purpose for which Jesus was coming as a man. I think it is significant that the one chosen to bear the Messiah sees her own need for salvation and knows that God is meeting that need.

Luke 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

Mary viewed herself as God’s servant, his handmaiden. She was probably poor, not significant in any way. Therefore, she realized she was extremely blessed to be chosen to conceive and carry her Redeemer in her womb. She acknowledged that this was not her doing but was the choice and work of God in her life. She needed the Seed of God she carried as much as the world He would be born into needed her Baby.

Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Mary may have had several passages from the Psalms in mind. We looked up “them that fear him” on and came up with these as well as others: Psalms 25:14, 33:18, 34:7, 34:9, 85:9, 103:11, 13 & 17, 111:5, 145:19, and 147:11. Psalm 103 has been a favorite of mine (Susie’s) for a long time:

Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

Luke 1:51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Psalm 103:5-6 (KJV) Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

In Jewish thought, riches were a reward from God, which in essence they are. However, they believed the opposite was true as well, that poverty was a curse from God. Mary espoused the truth that God would bring down the proud and boastful and elevate the poor and downtrodden. In the Magnificat, Mary was announcing prophetic reality that God would bring forth, in the fullness of time, the bringing down of the proud and elevation of the humble. God’s salvation would be for all people who believed.

Luke 1:54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

He would fulfill His promise to Abraham to redeem His people.  The time was drawing near for the Messiah to be revealed. The baby she was carrying was the long awaited Anointed One promised to Abraham and Sarah, the Savior descended from their son Isaac.

Galatians 4:4-5 (NASB) “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Luke 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Mary probably stayed with Elizabeth her final trimester of pregnancy and probably until John was born. Then she went back home to Nazareth.

Ponder this: Things that assure us that a baby inside the womb is already a human soul.
1.           John was filled with the Spirit even while in his mother’s womb.
2.           John jumped for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice because he recognized by the power of the Spirit that she was carrying the Messiah.

3.           Jesus was recognized by John even though Mary was probably not even showing yet, even though by today’s modern medical standards he would not be “viable.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


LUKE 1:26-38 – MARY

Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Six months after he gave Zacharias the news about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel on another mission, a second divine assignment. Gabriel was dispatched to the small town of Nazareth to make an announcement to a virgin girl named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph who was in the lineage of King David, but they had not yet married. They were betrothed, which was legally binding; and any infidelity would be considered adultery against the future spouse.

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Gabriel told Mary she was to be unique among all women, specially chosen by God. He explained that God was present in her life. Mary was favored in the sense that God extended grace to her for the assignment of bringing forth the redeemer of the whole world.

Luke 1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

Mary was a simple peasant girl. She was confused and in wonderment at this greeting from the angel.

Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

Gabriel gave Mary the shocking news that she was going to become pregnant and have a son. She was to name this son Jesus which means “Jehovah is generous, Jehovah saves.” Jesus is a derivative of Joshua or Yeshua and was not an uncommon name, but the angel’s next statement made clear that this would be no common baby.

Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Gabriel told Mary that her son would reign on the throne of David FOREVER. That throne would continue eternally because Jesus would be the Son of the Most High, the Son of God.

Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Mary, understandably, was astonished at the news that she would be pregnant since she and Joseph were not married yet, and she was a virgin. She must have been terrified and confused. Also, she would have no one to share her troubles with since probably no one would believe herKeep in mind, this was a private conversation between Mary and Gabriel. Talking to anyone else, surely, they would have deemed her crazy. Or worse, stoned her as unfaithful to her betrothed.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 

Gabriel answered Mary’s question by explaining that this was not going to be the normal exchange between a woman and a man. God was going to personally, miraculously, impregnate her with His Son in the form of an embryo. He assured her of God’s power to perform this miracle in her by telling her of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, miraculous because of her advanced age. I find the statement in verse 37 in the Voice translation particularly comforting: "So the impossible is possible with God." AMEN

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Hearing the angel’s answer to her question, Mary submitted and committed herself to the process of conception, pregnancy, and birth of the Redeemer Jesus in accordance with the Father’s will. She must have known she would be subjecting herself to ridicule, gossip, and even the possibility of stoning or banishment, either of which would have been within Joseph’s rights to demand. At the risk of all these things, she humbly submitted anyway.

Mary's response to God's plan for her was humble.  When God uses you in a mighty way, remember to give Him all the glory and credit. You are just the vessel to carry His blessings to others.

Monday, December 26, 2016



The Lord sent an angel to make three very important announcements concerning two of our Women of Christmas. Zacharias and his barren wife, Elizabeth,  would conceive the forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist.  Gabriel informed first Mary, then Joseph about their roles in the birth of the Messiah. These ordinary people were an integral part of God's extraordinary plan of redemption for a lost and fallen world.

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Zacharias and Elizabeth were upright people of the utmost integrity. They were both descended of the priestly line of Aaron. Zacharias means “Jehovah has remembered,” and we are about to read exactly how God remembered this couple in their old age. Elizabeth means “Consecrated to God” and “My God is Bountiful.” Both of these are significant since Elizabeth was barren which was thought in those days to mean a woman was cursed by God. But all that was about to be changed.

Luke 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

Not only was Elizabeth barren, but like Sarah, she was way past the age of being able to conceive a child. Her husband, like Abraham, was well up in years as well.

Luke 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

Zacharias was a priest serving in the temple, taking his turn (only one in his life) to enter the Holy of Holies. His wife, Elizabeth, was past the age of childbearing; and they had no children.
All the people were praying outside while Zacharias prayed inside the Holy of Holies.

Luke 1:11-12 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

Zacharias had the natural reaction to the supernatural appearance of an angel: he was terrified.

Luke 1:13-17 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

The angel comforted him with the words, “Fear not.” Although the announcement was made to Zacharias, it was God’s plan for his wife, Elizabeth that the angel revealed. God’s messenger shocked and surprised him by appearing in the Holy place and speaking to him. The angel declared to him that Elizabeth would conceive and have child which they were to name John which means “God is gracious and merciful.” God was giving Elizabeth and Zacharias the gift of a son. Not only a son, but an extremely special son!

 This son came to be known as John the Baptist, who would be the one who announced the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It is significant that Gabriel stated that John would be “filled with the Holy Spirit” even before he was born!

LUKE 1: 18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

Zacharias mirrored what Abraham went through. Although, he did not laugh, he questioned the validity of the angel’s prophecy. He pointed out the obvious, that he and Elizabeth were way too old to have children.

Luke 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

Gabriel chastised him and basically said, “You can be quiet now,” because Zacharias did not believe the word of the Lord that he had been sent to declare to you. I wonder if this was the root of our southern expression, “Well, shut my mouth!”

Luke 1:21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

The people were getting a bit concerned since Zacharias was in the temple much longer than the usual time required to offer the sacrifice.

Luke 1:22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

Zacharias, using hand signals, was able to get across to the people that he had seen a vision while serving in the temple. It does not appear that he was able to communicate the exact nature of the vision. Or perhaps he felt that he was supposed to keep it a secret since he was unable to speak by the power of the Lord.

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

Zacharias went home to his wife, and it seems she conceived immediately. Elizabeth realized that by enabling her to conceive, the Lord was removing her shame of being childless. She remained in seclusion for five months, perhaps in a period of reverent gratitude for how the Lord had smiled upon her.

PONDER THIS: Elizabeth did not yet realize that she would be a significant person in the life of our Lord on earth. Zacharias had been told John would be the forerunner of the Messiah and filled with the Spirit even from conception. How this would manifest itself is yet to be told. Meanwhile Elizabeth worshiped her gracious God. As we have said before, all children are a gift. Imagine the immense gratitude of this mother to be who had given up imagining herself as a mom. The idea of giving birth was a forgotten dream. If you have children, pray thanking the Lord for entrusting them to you!