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Evidence Based Faith

Luke 1:1-4

How do you know that what you are told about Jesus is true?  The author of this gospel, and the Book of the Acts, was Luke.  He was a physician (Colossians 4:14), trained to discover the truth, expert in taking medical histories and comparing them with reports of similar diseases.  After Jesus ascended into heaven, many people wrote about His life and ministry.  But which accounts were authentic?  Luke, who also helped Paul, applied his training in literature and science to the task of evaluating the many reports about Jesus - finding the truth from eyewitnesses, and writing ...

Faithful Failures?

Luke 1:5-7

If God is on our side, why is life littered by unwanted challenges and broken dreams?  Luke introduces Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth as a godly, devout, faithful couple who obeyed the Jewish rules.  They were both descended from Aaron - Zechariah was a priest who served in the temple and any male children would automatically have become priests.  But there was no child.

The Fear of Dutiful Faith

Luke 1:8-12

Religious people have faith, but in what? Zechariah obeyed God's commandments in his private life, and fulfilled the requirements for priests when he was working in the temple.

Beyond our Dreams

Luke 1:13-16

Some people say that if you have great faith, then God will answer: and there are Scriptures to support that.  But God is also far greater than the limits of our faith (1 John 3:20).  In this narrative, Zechariah the priest had prayed for a child (Luke 1:13) but did not believe it was possible (Luke 1:18-20).  Nevertheless, his faithless prayer that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child would be answered!

Back to the Covenant

Luke 1:17

John the Baptist did not choose his career.  God appointed him as the 'last of the Old Testament prophets' (even though his story is at the beginning of the New Testament).  Each prophet had the same task - to draw people back to God's covenant, and to look forward to the day when Jesus would institute a new covenant.  After 400 years of prophetic silence since Malachi who predicted John's ministry (Malachi 3:1), his task was to finish the prophetic relay race by personally identifying Jesus (John 1:29-34).

Nothing to Say

Luke 1:18-25

The angel had announced that a baby boy would be born to a geriatric couple.  At first sight, Zechariah's question seems very reasonable.  He and his wife knew that their biological power of reproduction had gone.  But that was not just a function of their old age; they had never produced any children.  Even though they had prayed for years for a child (Luke 1:13), Zechariah the priest did not believe that God would grant the request.  That is why the angel rebuked Zechariah's unbelief and struck him dumb for nine months.

Accepting the Favour

Luke 1:26-33

The old, childless couple were miraculously going to have a baby.  After years of grief and prayer, the angel Gabriel spoke to the old priest Zechariah in the temple (Luke 1:19), saying that his aging wife, Elizabeth, would have a son (Luke 1:11-13).   When the previously barren Elizabeth was three months away from delivering John, the same angel surprised her unmarried teenage relative, Mary, in Nazareth.  Gabriel told her that God was with her and wanted to give her something special from Himself.  It was an alarming encounter.  A strange man coming to a betrothed girl.  What did he want?

The Way God Works

Luke 1:34-38

Mary was a teenager who accepted the angel Gabriel's message as truth from God (Luke 1:31-33).  She accepted that her baby would become the Messiah King (Luke 1:38).  Most would have thought that the idea was incredible, but Mary believed (Luke 1:45).  However, her faith did not close off her enquiring mind; true faith never does.  She did not doubt what God would do, but she was curious as to how God would do it, and what part she might need to play.

Blessing comes through Faith

Luke 1:39-45

Mary, in the early stages of her pregnancy, travelled from Nazareth in Galilee to south of Jerusalem.  The move may have removed her from malicious tongues and even stoning as her maternity became more evident.  But it was also to reassure her that God’s purpose was being worked out in her body.  Mary went to stay with her formerly barren and aging relative, Elizabeth, who was then six months pregnant with John.  These women were separated by many years: Elizabeth was way past the menopause and Mary was a virgin teenager, yet God had done a miracle in each of them.  The old lady, Elizabeth,

Blessings Promote Praise

Luke 1:46-49

Mary's faith was already settled.  She believed God’s Word, and she was willing to be the Lord's servant in bearing God's child (Luke 1:38).  She had also received confirmation of the angel's message through Elizabeth's prophecy (Luke 1:41-45).  Now, her private faith became public praise (and has continued to be used in Christian worship for two millennia).  It was not enough that she passively accepted God's privilege of being the virgin mother of the Lord Jesus, because blessings given are designed to praise God - and not bring praise to the receiver.  When God gives blessing, the proper