Luke 1** This evangelist is generally supposed to have been aphysician, and a companion of the apostle Paul. The style of hiswritings, and his acquaintance with the Jewish rites and usages,sufficiently show that he was a Jew, while his knowledge of theGreek language and his name, speak his Gentile origin. He isfirst mentioned #Ac 16:10,11|, as with Paul at Troas, whence heattended him to Jerusalem, and was with him in his voyage, andin his imprisonment at Rome. This Gospel appears to be designedto supersede many defective and unauthentic narratives incirculation, and to give a genuine and inspired account of thelife, miracles, and doctrines of our Lord, learned from thosewho heard and witnessed his discourses and miracles. * The Preface. (1-4) Zacharias and Elisabeth. (5-25) Christ'sbirth announced. (26-38) Interview of Mary and Elisabeth.(39-56) The birth of John the Baptist. (57-66) The song ofZacharias. (67-80) #1-4. Luke will not write of things about which Christians maysafely differ from one another, and hesitate within themselves;but the things which are, and ought to be surely believed. Thedoctrine of Christ is what the wisest and best of men haveventured their souls upon with confidence and satisfaction. Andthe great events whereon our hopes depend, have been recorded bythose who were from the beginning eye-witnesses and ministers ofthe word, and who were perfected in their understanding of themthrough Divine inspiration.5-25 The father and mother of John the Baptist were sinners asall are, and were justified and saved in the same way as others;but they were eminent for piety and integrity. They had nochildren, and it could not be expected that Elisabeth shouldhave any in her old age. While Zacharias was burning incense inthe temple, the whole multitude of the people were prayingwithout. All the prayers we offer up to God, are acceptable andsuccessful only by Christ's intercession in the temple of Godabove. We cannot expect an interest therein if we do not pray,and pray with our spirits, and are not earnest in prayer. Norcan we expect that the best of our prayers should gainacceptance, and bring an answer of peace, but through themediation of Christ, who ever lives, making intercession. Theprayers Zacharias often made, received an answer of peace.Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten.Prayers made when we were young and entering into the world, maybe answered when we are old and going out of the world. Merciesare doubly sweet that are given in answer to prayer. Zachariasshall have a son in his old age, who shall be instrumental inthe conversion of many souls to God, and preparing them toreceive the gospel of Christ. He shall go before Him withcourage, zeal, holiness, and a mind dead to earthly interestsand pleasures. The disobedient and rebellious would be broughtback to the wisdom of their righteous forefathers, or rather,brought to attend to the wisdom of that Just One who was comingamong them. Zacharias heard all that the angel said; but hisunbelief spake. In striking him dumb, God dealt justly with him,because he had objected against God's word. We may admire thepatience of God towards us. God dealt kindly with him, for thushe prevented his speaking any more distrustful, unbelievingwords. Thus also God confirmed his faith. If by the rebukes weare under for our sin, we are brought to give the more credit tothe word of God, we have no reason to complain. Even realbelievers are apt to dishonour God by unbelief; and their mouthsare stopped in silence and confusion, when otherwise they wouldhave been praising God with joy and gratitude. In God's graciousdealings with us we ought to observe his gracious regards to us.He has looked on us with compassion and favour, and thereforehas thus dealt with us. 26-38 We have here an account of the mother of our Lord; thoughwe are not to pray to her, yet we ought to praise God for her.Christ must be born miraculously. The angel's address meansonly, Hail, thou that art the especially chosen and favoured ofthe Most High, to attain the honour Jewish mothers have so longdesired. This wondrous salutation and appearance troubled Mary.The angel then assured her that she had found favour with God,and would become the mother of a son whose name she should callJesus, the Son of the Highest, one in a nature and perfectionwith the Lord God. JESUS! the name that refreshes the faintingspirits of humbled sinners; sweet to speak and sweet to hear,Jesus, a Saviour! We know not his riches and our own poverty,therefore we run not to him; we perceive not that we are lostand perishing, therefore a Saviour is a word of little relish.Were we convinced of the huge mass of guilt that lies upon us,and the wrath that hangs over us for it, ready to fall upon us,it would be our continual thought, Is the Saviour mine? And thatwe might find him so, we should trample on all that hinders ourway to him. Mary's reply to the angel was the language of faithand humble admiration, and she asked no sign for the confirmingher faith. Without controversy, great was the mystery ofgodliness, God manifest in the flesh, #1Ti 3:16|. Christ's humannature must be produced so, as it was fit that should be whichwas to be taken into union with the Divine nature. And we must,as Mary here, guide our desires by the word of God. In allconflicts, let us remember that with God nothing is impossible;and as we read and hear his promises, let us turn them intoprayers, Behold the willing servant of the Lord; let it be untome according to thy word. 39-56 It is very good for those who have the work of gracebegun in their souls, to communicate one to another. On Mary'sarrival, Elisabeth was conscious of the approach of her who wasto be the mother of the great Redeemer. At the same time she wasfilled with the Holy Ghost, and under his influence declaredthat Mary and her expected child were most blessed and happy, aspeculiarly honoured of and dear to the Most High God. Mary,animated by Elisabeth's address, and being also under theinfluence of the Holy Ghost, broke out into joy, admiration, andgratitude. She knew herself to be a sinner who needed a Saviour,and that she could no otherwise rejoice in God than asinterested in his salvation through the promised Messiah. Thosewho see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousnessand life in him, he fills with good things, with the bestthings; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings hegives. He will satisfy the desires of the poor in spirit wholong for spiritual blessings, while the self-sufficient shall besent empty away. 57-66 In these verses we have an account of the birth of Johnthe Baptist, and the great joy among all the relations of thefamily. He shall be called Johanan, or "Gracious," because heshall bring in the gospel of Christ, wherein God's grace shinesmost bright. Zacharias recovered his speech. Unbelief closed hismouth, and believing opened it again: he believers, therefore hespeaks. When God opens our lips, our mouths must show forth hispraise; and better be without speech, than not use it inpraising God. It is said, The hand of the Lord was working withJohn. God has ways of working on children in their infancy,which we cannot account for. We should observe the dealings ofGod, and wait the event. 67-80 Zacharias uttered a prophecy concerning the kingdom andsalvation of the Messiah. The gospel brings light with it; in itthe day dawns. In John the Baptist it began to break, andincreased apace to the perfect day. The gospel is discovering;it shows that about which we were utterly in the dark; it is togive light to those that sit in darkness, the light of theknowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It isreviving; it brings light to those that sit in the shadow ofdeath, as condemned prisoners in the dungeon. It is directing;it is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way whichwill bring us to peace at last, #Ro 3:17|. John gave proofs ofstrong faith, vigorous and holy affections, and of being abovethe fear and love of the world. Thus he ripened for usefulness;but he lived a retired life, till he came forward openly as theforerunner of the Messiah. Let us follow peace with all men, aswell as seek peace with God and our own consciences. And if itbe the will of God that we live unknown to the world, still letus diligently seek to grow strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.
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