Preparations for Jesus’ Ministry

Discovery for Students

Preparations for Jesus’ Ministry

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Luke 1:1 through 4:13

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)

BACKGROUND

The Book of Luke was written to Theophilus, a Gentile who is believed to have been interested in the teachings of the Christian faith; his name means “one who loves God.” Luke, the author of this Gospel, was a skilled writer and historian as well as an educated physician. He was also a Greek — the only Gentile among the writers of the Gospels — so he could identify with the perspectives of Gentile readers. His writings helped Christians in the Gentile churches to better understand Jesus, His life, and His mission on earth.

As a friend and traveling companion of Paul the Apostle, Luke had access to the Apostles and close friends of Jesus, and no doubt their firsthand reports and recollections were the basis for much of his writings. Luke gives more detail than any other Gospel writer concerning the birth and early life of Christ.

The universal scope of Christ’s message is brought out in the Gospel of Luke in a variety of ways. For example, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus in chapter 3 goes back to Adam (the father of all mankind), rather than only to Abraham (the father of the Jewish nation), as Matthew’s did. Heli, mentioned at the beginning of the genealogical list, was likely Joseph’s father-in-law, so this ancestral record traces the family line of Mary, and may have been received personally from her.

The Book of Luke highlights Jesus’ compassion toward those considered unimportant in Jewish society, such as women, children, those in poverty, and social outcasts. In these first chapters, Luke detailed how Christ’s birth took place in lowly circumstances — in an area housing animals. It was to humble shepherds that the angels proclaimed their joyous message, and those shepherds had the privilege of meeting in person the tiny Babe who came as the Savior of the whole world.

Another notable feature of Luke’s Gospel is the emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. In chapters 1 and 2, Luke gave a detailed account of Jesus’ birth by an earthly woman, and provided the only glimpse in Scripture of Jesus’ boyhood. In chapter 4, Luke recounted how Jesus experienced hunger after fasting for forty days, and then was subjected to temptation from Satan. In addition, he gave details about how Jesus overcame temptation, providing an example for His followers throughout the ages since.

Luke alluded frequently to the Holy Spirit. For example, he explained Jesus’ conception by relating the angel’s assertion to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:35). At Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove while the Father spoke from Heaven, beautifully depicting the Holy Trinity.

The text of this lesson includes words that have been woven into some of the greatest songs of all Christendom: Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55, often called the Magnificat (the first word of the Latin translation of this passage); the Benedictus or Song of Zacharias in Luke 1:68-79, and Gloria in Excelsis, which begins with the words the angels sang when Jesus’ birth was announced to shepherds in Luke 2:14.

QUESTIONS

  1. After four hundred years without a message from God’s prophets, the Jewish people were expecting their Messiah to come, heralded by the forerunner prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6. In Luke 1:11-17 the angel Gabriel announced the advent of that forerunner, John the Baptist. What miraculous circumstance surrounded John’s birth as noted in Luke 1:7,18?
  2. In Luke 1:30-33, Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would conceive and bear the Son of the Highest — an event that would bring difficult and life-altering circumstances into her life. What might some of those circumstances have been? Why do you think Mary surrendered to God’s plan for her life with so little hesitation?
  3. In Luke 2:1, Caesar Augustus ordered his subjects to return to their home cities to be taxed. That decree meant Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem, even though the birth of her Child was imminent. Old Testament prophets had foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judea (see Micah 5:2), and God’s perfect plan was fulfilled when Jesus was born. What conclusion can we draw from the fact that this prophecy (and many others) was fulfilled in minute detail?
  4. The message of the angel to the shepherds was one of great joy, for a Savior had been born to Israel. Many of the Jews expected that when their Messiah came, He would deliver them from Roman tyranny — their focus was on their temporal needs. However, the angels proclaimed a deliverance that was much greater than freedom from political oppression. What was the deliverance Jesus came to bring? (Luke 2:10-11)
  5. When Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus into the Temple to be presented to the Lord, an elderly man named Simeon was greatly blessed to hold the Baby in his arms (see Luke 2:25-32). This just and devout man had waited patiently for many years to see the “consolation” of Israel. What do we, as the people of God, wait for today?
  6. John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, had been told by the angel Gabriel that John would prepare the way for the Messiah (Luke 1:17). When John began preaching throughout the region near the Jordan River, he declared that he was only a voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord by making His paths straight. In what way did John prepare the Messiah’s path? Luke 3:7-18.
  7. The Holy Trinity (also referred to as the Divine Trinity, Godhead, or Triune God) consists of three Persons in one who are equally and eternally the one true God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These are separate and distinct persons, possessing recognizable personalities and qualities, perfectly united in one. How does Luke’s account of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River reveal the distinction of Persons in the Godhead? Luke 3:21-22
  8. In Luke 4 we read that as part of Jesus’ spiritual preparation for ministry, He was “led by the Spirit” to a wilderness region where He fasted and prayed for a forty-day period. During that time, Jesus was “tempted of the devil,” yet He refused to yield. Based on Luke 4:3-13, how can we withstand temptation using Jesus as our example?

CONCLUSION

Luke’s description of John’s prophetic role, his baptism of Jesus, and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, help us understand that these events were all part of the divine preparation for Jesus’ ministry and His role as Savior of the world.