Luke: The Man Christ Jesus

The Birth of Jesus and the Beginning of his Work

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Luke 1:1 to 4:13

www.easyenglish.info

Ian Mackervoy

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

About the *Gospel of Luke

The writer

The *Gospel of Luke does not mention Luke’s name as the author. But few people doubt that Luke did write this book. Also, he wrote the Book of Acts. He sent both books to the same person called Theophilus (Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1).

Luke was not a *Jew. We know this from Colossians 4:11-14. Paul names the three *Jews who were with him in Rome. Luke was not one of them but he was with Paul there. All the other writers of the *New Testament were *Jews.

Luke travelled with Paul on some of his journeys. The evidence for this is that, in several places in Acts, Luke uses the words, ‘we’ or ‘us’. Luke was a medical doctor by profession (Colossians 4:14). There is a tradition that he was born in the city called Antioch in Syria.

Luke was not one of the original *disciples of Christ. But he studied the accounts of Christ’s life that were available to him. And he talked with those people who had been with Jesus. Some of the detail shows that probably Luke spoke with Mary the mother of Jesus.

We do not know whether Luke wrote this book in Israel, Rome, or somewhere else. And we do not know where he sent it. He probably wrote it some time between 59 *AD and 63 *AD.

Purpose

Luke’s purpose was to write a good and true account of the life of Jesus. This *Gospel tells the story of Jesus from the time before he was born. And it ends when Jesus went back to heaven. Luke wanted Theophilus and all people to know the truth about Jesus.

The *Gospel of Luke tells us about the things that Jesus said. And it tells us about the things that he did. This helps us to understand how God saves people from *sin. Luke shows us that Jesus is the *Saviour of the world. *Sin ruins people’s lives. And after they die, punishment is certain. People cannot save themselves. But Jesus came to look for and to save those people.

Luke shows that Jesus was a real man. In addition, he shows that Jesus was the Son of God.

Contents

Part 1

The birth of Jesus and the beginning of his work

1:1-4:13

 

The reason why Luke wrote this book

1:1-4

 

The birth of John the *Baptist

1:5-80

 

The birth and childhood of Jesus

2:1-52

 

John the *Baptist *preaches

3:1-20

 

John *baptises Jesus

3:21-22

 

The family history of Jesus

3:23-38

 

The devil tests Jesus

4:1-4:13

Part 2

Jesus in Galilee

4:14-9:50

 

The good news of the *kingdom

4:14-5:16

 

The *Pharisees begin to oppose Jesus

5:17-6:11

 

Jesus teaches the crowd

6:12-49

 

Examples of Jesus’ good deeds

7:1-50

 

Jesus teaches by means of stories

8:1-21

 

Jesus does *miracles

8:22-56

 

Jesus and the 12 *disciples

9:1-50

Part 3

Jesus on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem

9:51-19:44

 

No welcome in a *Samaritan village

9:51-56

 

The cost to become a *disciple

9:57-62

 

Jesus sends 72 *disciples ahead of him

10:1-24

 

The good *Samaritan

10:25-37

 

Martha and Mary

10:38-42

 

Jesus teaches us how to pray

11:1-13

 

Jesus and the prince of *demons

11:14-28

 

A lesson from Jonah

11:29-32

 

The eye is like the lamp of the body

11:33-36

 

With the *Pharisees and experts in the law

11:37-54

 

Jesus teaches the people

12:1-59

 

*Repentance

13:1-9

 

Jesus cures a woman on the *Sabbath

13:10-17

 

The *kingdom of God

13:18-30

 

*Prophets die in Jerusalem

13:31-35

 

Dinner with a *Pharisee

14:1-24

 

It costs to be a *disciple

14:25-35

 

Three stories about things that people had lost

15:1-32

 

The wise manager

16:1-13

 

Divorce

16:14-18

 

Rich man and poor man

16:19-31

 

*Sin, *faith and duty

17:1-10

 

10 *lepers

17:11-19

 

The *kingdom of God comes

17:20-37

 

Two stories about prayer

18:1-14

 

Jesus and the children

18:15-17

 

The rich young ruler

18:18-30

 

Jesus speaks about his death

18:31-34

 

Jesus cures a blind man

18:35-43

 

Zacchaeus

19:1-10

 

Story about the servants

19:11-27

 

Jesus enters Jerusalem

19:28-44

Part 4

Jesus completes his work in Jerusalem

19:45-21:38

 

Jesus at the *temple

19:45-48

 

Questions about authority

20:1-8

 

Story about the farmers

20:9-19

 

Questions to test Jesus

20:20-47

 

The widow’s gift

21:1-4

 

The end of the age

21:5-38

Part 5

Jesus suffers death and he lives again

22:1-24:53

 

Judas goes to the chief priests

22:1-6

 

The last supper

22:7-38

 

In the garden

22:39-45

 

The arrest of Jesus

22:46-53

 

Peter denies that he knows Christ

22:54-62

 

Soldiers, Pilate and Herod

22:63-23:25

 

Jesus on the cross

23:26-49

 

Jesus in the grave

23:50-56

 

Jesus is alive again

24:1-12

 

Jesus and his *disciples

24:13-49

 

Jesus goes back to heaven

24:50-53

The beginning of the life and work of Jesus – Luke 1:1 to 4:13

The reason why Luke wrote this book – Luke 1:1-4

v1 Many people have tried to give an account of the things that have happened among us. v2 We got our information from those people who saw these things. And we got our information from those people who have passed on the message from the beginning. v3 So it seemed good to me to write down these things in order for you, most excellent Theophilus. I have studied all these things carefully to make sure that I can write accurately about them. v4 By this account, you can be certain about the truth of the things that you have learned.

Verses 1-4 Luke was not among the first *disciples of the *Lord. He did not see the *Lord while he was alive on the earth. But many people had recorded what they knew about Jesus’ life. They got their information from those people who were with Jesus. One of these earlier records was probably Mark’s *Gospel. Luke studied what these people wrote. He probably spoke to many people who were with Jesus. And he listened to what they said. Then he made sure that the information was correct.

Luke calls the message that they passed on: ‘the word’. ‘The word’ means the *gospel and especially what Jesus taught. So, many Bible translations say that these people were ‘servants of the word’. They were probably the *apostles and teachers in the first Christian churches.

We do not know who Theophilus was. His name means ‘friend of God’. Theophilus was a proper name. Luke calls him ‘most excellent Theophilus’. This seems to show that Theophilus was a real person. And he was an important man, like Festus (Acts 26:25). Theophilus may have been the person who would publish this book. That is, he would arrange for other people to make copies of it. He could have been a *Greek or *Roman government official.

Luke wrote this book for Theophilus but he intended other people to read it as well. He wanted Theophilus and other people to have a true record. By this means, they could be sure of what they had learned. They could understand the *gospel and they could believe in the *Lord Jesus.

The birth of John the *Baptist – Luke 1:5-80

The *angel comes to Zechariah – Luke 1:5-25

v5 When King Herod ruled in Judea, there was a priest called Zechariah. He belonged to the Abijah group of priests. His wife Elizabeth was also a *descendant of Aaron. v6 Zechariah and Elizabeth did what pleased God. They were without blame as they obeyed completely all the *Lord’s laws and commands. v7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth could not have a baby. And they were both getting old.

v8 One day Zechariah was serving as a priest in front of God’s *altar, because his group was on duty. v9 By the method that the priests used, they chose Zechariah to burn *incense in the *Lord’s *temple. v10 A large crowd of people was outside. At the time when the priest burned the *incense, the people prayed.

v11 Then an *angel of the *Lord appeared to Zechariah. The *angel stood on the right side of the *incense *altar. v12 It was a shock to Zechariah when he saw the *angel. Zechariah felt sudden fear. v13 But the *angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, do not be afraid. God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to a son. And you must give to this son the name John. v14 You will have joy and delight. And many people will be glad because of his birth. v15 John will be a great man for the *Lord. He must never drink wine or other strong drinks. The power of the *Holy Spirit will fill him, even from his birth. v16 He will turn many of the people in *Israel to the *Lord their God. v17 He will go before the *Lord. He will be strong and powerful like the *prophet Elijah. He will bring fathers and children together again. He will turn back those people who do not obey God to the right way to live. He will prepare people for when the *Lord comes.’

v18 Zechariah asked the *angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is getting old.’

v19 The *angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand close to God. God sent me to speak to you and to tell you this good news. v20 You have not believed what I have said. Therefore, you will be silent. You will not be able to speak until the day when these things happen. But what I said will happen at the proper time.’

v21 The people waited for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the *temple. v22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. He could only make signs to them and he remained unable to speak. Then they understood that he had seen a *vision in the *temple.

v23 When he had finished his time of service in the *temple, he went home. v24 After this, his wife Elizabeth became *pregnant and she hid herself for 5 months. v25 She said, ‘The *Lord has done this for me. He has looked upon me and he has helped me. The people can see that he has removed my shame from me.’

Verses 5-7 Herod the Great was a son of a man called Antipater. Herod was not a *Jew by birth. He was the first king of Judah who was not a *Jew by birth. He became king in 37 *BC and he died in 4 *BC. So, the births of John the *Baptist and Jesus were in 4 *BC or earlier.

The name Zechariah means ‘God remembers’. Zechariah was a priest. The priests were all *descendants of Aaron but they could marry women from other families. But Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, was a *descendant of Aaron. So, John the *Baptist was a *descendant of Aaron by both his father and mother.

There were 24 groups of priests. Each group served in turn for one week in the *temple. So one of the groups was on duty at all times. Zechariah belonged to the group of Abijah. The group of Abijah was the 8th group out of the 24 (1 Chronicles 24:10). After the *exile in Babylon, only 4 families of priests came back to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:36-39). Some Bible teachers think that those 4 families became 24 new groups. And they took the names of the previous groups. The family of Abijah did not return from Babylon at that time.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were good people. They loved God and they obeyed his law. They were not able to have children and now they were too old. It was impossible for them to have a child. This caused them to be sad. And Elizabeth felt ashamed that she could not have a child.

Verses 8-10 Every morning and evening, the priests made an animal *sacrifice. This was in the area outside the *temple. Many priests helped in this. At the same time, just one priest went into the room in the *temple called the holy place. Here he burnt *incense on an *altar. There were so many priests that they had to choose one for this task. Because of the number of them, a priest would burn *incense just once in his life. On this day, Zechariah was the priest that they chose. He went into the holy place to burn *incense. A large crowd of people were in front of the *temple. And there they prayed at the time when Zechariah burned the *incense. We do not know whether this was at the morning or the evening *sacrifice.

Verses 11-12 To burn *incense, Zechariah stood in front of the *altar of *incense. The *altar of *incense was near the curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place. On the north side, there was the table for the special bread. On the south side was the gold lamp holder. The *angel, who was called the *angel of the *Lord, appeared on the right or south side of the *altar. He stood between the *altar and the gold lamp holder.

The sudden appearance of an *angel was a shock to Zechariah.

Verses 13-15 Zechariah wanted to have a child. He and Elizabeth had probably prayed often to God about it. The *angel came with the news that God had heard those prayers. And Elizabeth would give birth to a son. But Zechariah must give the name John to that child.

John in the *Hebrew language combines the name of God with the word for kindness. Therefore, John means ‘the *Lord has been kind’.

Zechariah and Elizabeth had been so sad that they could not have a child. Now the *angel said that the birth of John would bring much joy to them. The *Lord would answer their prayers. John would be a special son to them. Many people would be glad at John’s birth and because of his life.

John must never drink wine or strong drink. Strong drink probably means any drink with alcohol in it. (See the rules for the Nazirites in Numbers chapter 6. The Nazirites were people who made a special promise to God.) This showed that John had a special task from God.

God had a special task for John to do. God sent the power of the *Holy Spirit to be in John even before his birth. John would be a great servant of the *Lord. He would be a *prophet; in fact, he was more than a *prophet (Matthew 11:9).

Verses 16-17 The work that John would do was to prepare the people for the *Lord (Malachi 3:1). John would cause many *Jews to *repent of their *sins. They would turn again to the *Lord their God. Because of this, families would come together again.

In Malachi 4:5 we read that Elijah will come before the *Christ comes. The *Christ means the king that God would appoint to save his people. The promise that *Christ would come is in many parts of the *Old Testament. Here, ‘Elijah’ means a *prophet who is like the *prophet Elijah in the *Old Testament. This new ‘Elijah’ would come with the power that the Holy Spirit gives to him. So, John the *Baptist came in that power before Jesus came. John would announce to the *Jews that Jesus the *Christ had come.

Verses 18-20 Zechariah asked what seemed to be a reasonable question. He and his wife were too old to have children. But the question showed that he did not believe the *angel (verse 20). Mary asked a similar question (verse 34). But she did believe the *angel. She asked how God would give her a child.

The *angel told Zechariah that his name was Gabriel. Gabriel means ‘God’s soldier’. This was a direct message from God. So Zechariah did not believe God. But God would do what he said. Because of this, Zechariah would not be able to speak until after John was born.

There was a tradition of the *Jews that there were 4 chief *angels round the *throne of God. Their names were Michael, Uriel, Raphael and Gabriel.

Verses 21-22 It was not usual for the priest to be such a long time in the holy place. The priest would usually take less than half an hour to burn the *incense. So, the people wondered what had happened. They waited for Zechariah to come out from the holy place. When he did come out, he was both dumb and deaf (1:62).

The people understood that Zechariah had seen a *vision. But he had actually met with the *angel Gabriel.

Verses 23-25 Zechariah did not go home immediately. He continued to perform his duties until the end of the week. Then the group of Abijah had completed their time in the *temple. After this, Zechariah went home to his wife Elizabeth.

Some time later Elizabeth became *pregnant. This means that she would have a baby. She stayed at home for 5 months. Then there could be no doubt that she was expecting a child.

Elizabeth knew that she could not have a child in the normal way. The *Lord had made it possible. The *Lord gave to her the strength. And he made her able to have a baby although she was so old.

At that time, many people thought that it was a shame for a wife to have no children. The *Lord had removed that shame from Elizabeth.

The *angel announces the birth of Jesus – Luke 1:26-38

v26 In the 6th month, God sent the *angel Gabriel to Nazareth. Nazareth was a town in the region called Galilee. v27 God sent the *angel to a young woman who had never had sex with a man. Her name was Mary. She was engaged to a man called Joseph. He was a *descendant of David. v28 The *angel came to Mary and he greeted her. He said, ‘The *Lord gives you great honour. The *Lord is with you.’

v29 Mary was very worried by what the *angel said. And she wondered what his words could mean. v30 The *angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary. God is pleased with you and he has decided to *bless you. v31 You will become *pregnant. A son will be born to you and you must call his name Jesus.v32 He will be great, and he will be called the Son of the *Most High. The *Lord God will give to him the *throne of King David, his *ancestor. v33 He will rule over Jacob’s people for all time and his *kingdom will never end.’

v34 Mary asked the *angel, ‘How will this happen? I have not had sex with a man.’

v35 The *angel answered her, ‘The *Holy Spirit will come upon you. The power of the *Most High will cover you. Therefore, the baby will be called holy, and he will be the Son of God. v36 Now also Elizabeth, your relative, will have a son although she is very old. People said that she could not have a child. But this is the 6th month since she became *pregnant. v37 Nothing is impossible with God.’

v38 Mary said, ‘Look! I am the *Lord’s servant. Let this happen to me as you have said.’ Then the *angel went away from her.

Verses 26-28 Nazareth was a small town or village. It was not on a main road. The *Jews did not consider Nazareth to be important (see John 1:46).

God sent the same *angel to Mary as he had sent to Zechariah. The *angel Gabriel came to Mary in Nazareth. It was the 6th month since Elizabeth became *pregnant.

Mary was engaged to Joseph. In that society, the agreement to marry bound the man and the woman together. In other words, they had to marry each other. If they broke off (ended) the agreement, by their law it would be a divorce. But they must not have sex before the marriage.

Verses 29-31 The appearance of the *angel surprised Mary. What he said made her feel uneasy. She did not know what to expect. But the *angel told her not to be afraid. He had come from God. He told her that she pleased God. So, she had nothing of which to be afraid.

Gabriel told Mary that God had chosen her for the human birth of his son, Jesus. She had never had sex, but she would have a baby. No man would be the father of Jesus. His birth would be a *miracle of the *Holy Spirit. The *prophet Isaiah had said that this would happen (Isaiah 7:14).

Mary must call the baby ‘Jesus’. The name Jesus was a common name in *Israel. It is the same name as Joshua, with a different English spelling. The meaning of the name in the *Hebrew language is ‘the *Lord saves’. So, Matthew’s *Gospel says, ‘You must call his name Jesus. This means that he will save his people from their *sins’ (Matthew 1:21). One meaning of *Lord is the special name for God in the *Old Testament (Yahweh).

Verses 32-33 Jesus is great because he is the Son of the *Most High. The *Most High was an *Old Testament name for God. Jesus is and always has been the Son of God. In his birth, he was the Son of God in a human body. Jesus is both God and man. He has always been God; and he became the perfect man.

Christ was, by human birth, a *descendant of King David (3:31). God made a promise to David. He said to David, ‘Your *throne will last for all time’ (2 Samuel 7:16). By the ‘*throne’, God meant the royal authority to rule as king. In the Psalms, God said to David, ‘I will establish your *descendants for all time. And I will build your *throne for all time’ (Psalm 89:4). God gave to Jesus the *throne that he had promised to a *descendant of David.

Jesus will rule over *Israel for all time (Jeremiah 33:17). He will rule over everybody and everything in heaven and on the earth. He will be the king of kings and the *Lord of *lords (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16). His *kingdom will never end (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:14; Hebrews 1:8). These *prophecies are about a future time. Jesus will return to this earth and then God will establish his rule.

Verse 34 Unlike Zechariah, Mary did not ask for something to convince her that the *angel’s message was true. Her question was to know how it would happen. There was no lack of belief with Mary. The birth could not be a normal one because she had not had sex with a man. She would have known the *prophecy about the birth of the *Christ (Isaiah 7:14). And she realised that the *prophecy referred to her. But she could not imagine how the *Lord would achieve it.

Verse 35 The *angel told her how it would be. The *Holy Spirit will come and the power of the *Most High will cover her. God would cause Mary to have the child. The *scripture does not tell us in detail how God did this. There was no sex act involved in this. Jesus would have no man as his father. But he was born of a woman and so he became a real human. His father is God and he is the Son of God.

Jesus was there with God his Father, even before God made the world (John 1:1-2). Jesus has always been God. But by means of Mary, he became human (John 1:14). But he was still God.

Verses 36-38 Mary belonged to the *tribe of Judah. Elizabeth was a relative of Mary. But she belonged to the *tribe of Levi. Men from the *tribe of Levi could marry women from other *tribes. So, probably Elizabeth’s mother was from the *tribe of Judah. Her father was from the *tribe of Levi.

The *angel told Mary that this relative of hers would have a baby. But Elizabeth was so old that this was not possible. For a normal birth, she was too old. But she had carried the child for 6 months already. This would have encouraged Mary. The *Lord was causing the birth of John; and the *Lord would cause the birth of Jesus.

God is able to do what he wants. Nothing is impossible for him.

Mary believed what the *angel had told her. She accepted it with a good attitude. She was happy for the *Lord to do what the *angel said. In this, she was very brave. In those days, it was a serious matter to have a child before marriage. In law, the punishment could be death, although such a result was rare. But it would be normal for the man to whom she was engaged to divorce her. At this time, she could not know what Joseph would do.

Mary visits Elizabeth – Luke 1:39-45

v39 Soon after this, Mary got ready and she hurried off to a town in the hills of Judea. v40 She came into Zechariah’s house and she greeted Elizabeth. v41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby inside her jumped. The *Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth. v42 She cried out in a loud voice and she said, ‘God has *blessed you more than any other woman. And he has *blessed the child that will be born to you. v43 I do not deserve this, that the mother of my *Lord should visit me. v44 When I heard the sound of your greeting, the baby inside me jumped with joy. v45 The *Lord has *blessed you because you believed him. And he will do all that he told you.

Verses 39-45 We do not know in which town Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. The hills of Judea were about 50 to 70 miles (80 to 110 kilometres) from Nazareth town where Mary was. Mary went as soon as she could to visit Elizabeth. She stayed with Elizabeth for three months (verse 56). She probably left Elizabeth just before or just after John was born.

At the sound of Mary’s voice, the baby inside Elizabeth jumped with joy. The *Holy Spirit was active in the baby before its birth. The baby felt that Mary would be the mother of *Christ. The *Holy Spirit now filled Elizabeth. And the *Holy Spirit showed her that Mary’s child would be the *Christ.

A *Jewish woman could have no greater honour than to be the mother of the *Christ. Elizabeth cried out that God had given that honour to Mary. Mary’s child would be the *Lord Jesus Christ. Mary believed what God had said by the *angel Gabriel. So, God *blessed her because of her belief.

Mary’s song – Luke 1:46-56

v46 And Mary said, ‘My *soul tells of the greatness of the *Lord. v47 And my spirit finds its joy in God who saves me. v48 God has shown a special kindness to me, his humble servant girl. People in all future ages will say that God has *blessed me. v49 This is because the powerful God has done great things for me. His name is holy. v50 In every age, God will pity those people who have an attitude of fear toward him. v51 He has done great deeds by his power. He has scattered proud people who consider themselves superior. v52 He has brought down rulers from their *thrones. He has made humble people important. v53 He has filled hungry people with good things but he has sent rich people away with nothing. v54 He helped his servant, that is, the people from *Israel. He remembered his love and kindness for them. v55 This is the promise he made for all time to our *ancestors, to Abraham and to his *descendant.’

v56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then she returned to her home.

Verses 46-50 We know what Mary said here as the song of Mary. Many Christians call this song the Magnificat. Magnificat is the first word in the *Latin language of this song. It is a song of joy and it is a song to praise God. Much of the language in the song comes from the *Old Testament. In particular, it is quite similar to the song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10).

Mary praises the *Lord with her *soul and she has joy in her spirit. In the poetry of this song, both *soul and spirit mean the same. They emphasise that she praises God with all of herself. And she enjoys praising God.

Mary did not come from a wealthy family. She was an ordinary girl. She calls herself a humble servant of the *Lord. But God chose her to give birth to the *Christ. By this, God showed his special kindness to her. God showed his greatness by this special act. What God did for Mary is a reason for everyone to praise God.

Mary said that the name of God is ‘holy’. She meant that God is different from us. Nobody is like him. His goodness and kindness are extraordinary. The ‘name’ of God means the person of God. God is perfect and he is wonderful.

‘Fear’ does not only mean to be afraid. It is the serious attitude of someone who knows about God’s greatness. So ‘fear’ means more than to give honour or to respect God. It shows a proper attitude to God. Those people who have this attitude toward God trust in him. They will try never to offend him. They will try always to do what pleases God. God will be kind to such people.

Verses 51-55 This part of the song describes past events. But it also describes things that God continues to do, both now and in the future. What God has done in the past gives us hope for the future.

Mary continued to praise God. She told of what he did by his great power. God is against those people who are proud of themselves. They think that they are superior. These proud people make themselves enemies of God.

People who are humble ask God for help. And God helps them. God provides for those poor people who come to him for help. He satisfies their hunger. But the rich do not want help from God. They imagine that their own resources are enough. But God sends them away with nothing.

God loves his people, in other words, the families that came from *Israel. In the past, he has *blessed them and he has been kind to them. He made promises to Abraham and to *Israel. Now God will do as he promised in the person of the *Christ. Those promises include all nations and not just *Israel. By Christ, God shows his kindness to people from every nation.

Verse 56 After three months with Elizabeth, Mary returned to her home in Nazareth town. Elizabeth’s baby was due or he was just born. It is possible that Mary stayed until John’s birth. Probably by that time it was noticeable that Mary would have a baby.

The birth of John the *Baptist – Luke 1:57-66

v57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. v58 Her neighbours and relatives heard how good the *Lord had been to her. And they shared her joy.

v59 On the 8th day after his birth, they came to *circumcise the boy. They wanted to give him the same name as his father Zechariah. v60 But his mother said, ‘No. His name will be John.’

v61 They said to her, ‘But there is nobody in your family with that name.’

v62 They signalled to the father to find out what name he wanted for his son. v63 Zechariah asked for something on which to write. Then he wrote, ‘His name is John’. They were all surprised. v64 Immediately God made Zechariah’s mouth and tongue free. He could speak again and he began to praise God. v65 All the people who lived near them were very afraid. In all the hill country of Judea, people talked about all that had happened. v66 Everyone who heard this, thought deeply about it. They said, ‘This child will be someone special.’ They could see that the *Lord was with him.

Verses 57-66

At the usual time, John the *Baptist was born. Elizabeth’s family and neighbours knew that the *Lord had arranged this birth. It was a time of great joy for them all.

God told Abraham to *circumcise every male in his family. And this was the rule for all his *descendants. They had to *circumcise every baby boy when he was 8 days old (Genesis 17:9-14). So, Zechariah and Elizabeth took John and they *circumcised him on the 8th day.

It was normal to give to the boy a name from his family. So the family wanted to call the boy Zechariah. The boy’s father, Zechariah, could not speak but Elizabeth stopped them. She insisted that they called the boy John. The *angel told Zechariah to give this name to the boy (1:13).

The family would not allow Elizabeth to call the baby John. They told her that nobody in the family had that name. Then they asked Zechariah. He could not speak or hear. So, he wrote, ‘His name is John.’ In this, he obeyed the *angel and God cured him. He could now both speak and hear. His immediate reaction was to praise God.

All the people knew that God was at work. They saw that an old couple had a baby. They saw that God cured Zechariah when he called his son John. This caused them to know the fear of God. And they understood that God had a very special plan for John’s life.

Zechariah’s song – Luke 1:67-80

v67 The *Holy Spirit filled John’s father Zechariah and Zechariah *prophesied.

v68 ‘Praise the *Lord God of *Israel! He has come and he has made his people free. v69 He has sent a powerful *Saviour to us. Our *Saviour comes from the family of God’s servant David. v70 By his holy *prophets long ago, God said that he would do this. v71 He promised to save us from our enemies and from the power of all who hate us. v72 He has been kind to our *ancestors and he has remembered his holy promise. v73 God made that promise to our *ancestor Abraham. v74 He promised to rescue us from our enemies’ power so that we could serve him without fear. v75 We can now be holy and we can live in a right manner with God all our lives.

v76 You, my child, will be a *prophet of the *Most High. You will go ahead of the *Lord to prepare his ways. v77 You will make known to his people that the *Lord can save them. He can forgive their *sins.

v78 By God’s love and kindness, a sun from heaven will rise upon us. v79 The sun will shine on those people who live in darkness and in death’s shadow. It will guide them into a life of calm and quiet ways. He will lead us to a peaceful way of life.’

v80 The child grew up and he became bold in spirit. He lived in the deserts until the day when he appeared to the people in *Israel.

Verse 67 The *Holy Spirit came upon Zechariah and he *prophesied. We call this *prophecy Zechariah’s song. Many Christians know Zechariah’s song as the Benedictus. Benedictus is the first word in the song in the *Latin language.

The song is in two parts. In the first part, Zechariah praises God because God has sent the *Saviour (verses 67-75). The *Saviour is Christ. In the second part, Zechariah speaks about the work of John the *Baptist (verses 76-79).

Verses 68-70 God ‘has come’ means that God has visited his people.

*Prophecy sometimes speaks of the future as if it had already happened. The *Lord has, in the past made *Israel’s people free. Here it means that God will rescue his people by means of the *Christ. Many people thought that this was a political rescue. They expected the *Christ to rescue them from the *Romans. (*Israel was under the rule of the *Romans.) But the work of the *Christ was to make people free from *sin and death. This work of the *Christ was not only for the people from *Israel, but also for people from every nation.

Jesus now makes his people free. This means that he has paid the price to make them free. Jesus, the powerful *Saviour, paid the price for our *sins when he died for us. Jesus has taken the punishment because of our *sins. We need to *repent and to believe this. Then God will forgive us.

We are free when God forgives our *sin. We are free because the *Lord gives to us a new life. Death cannot end this new life. This new life will never die. This is what we call ‘eternal life’.

Verses 71-75 The *Old Testament in many places tells us that God would send a *Saviour to his people. This *Saviour would be a *descendant of King David. Both Mary and Joseph were *descendants of the family of David. So, by his human mother, Jesus belonged to that family. Jesus is the *Saviour that God promised to send.

The promise to Abraham was that God would defeat the enemies of his *descendants. Then Abraham’s *descendants could live in the country that God had promised to them. Also, because of Abraham, God would *bless all nations. God would save his people from their enemies.

The *descendants of Abraham include all who believe in the *Lord Jesus (Galatians 3:6-9). The enemies from which Jesus came to rescue us are *Satan, *sin and death.

The purpose of *salvation is that we should serve God. Because of Jesus, we need have no fear. He has removed the punishment because of our *sins. We can be holy and we can live with God.

Verses 76-79 The second part of Zechariah’s song is about his son John. Zechariah said that John would be a *prophet of the *Most High God. It seems that there had been no national *prophet among the *Jews for about 400 years.

John would tell the people to *repent of their *sins. He would tell them that the *Christ could forgive them.

God’s love and kindness are such that he sent the *Lord Jesus from heaven. The ‘sun’ that shines upon his people means the *Lord (see Isaiah 60:1-2). And the ‘darkness’ means *sin. While the people were in the darkness of *sin, God’s light shone upon them. In other words, he took away their *sin and he gave to them a new life. He made them free from *sin and death.

Verse 80 The child John grew up to be a man of strong character. He lived a private life in the desert. When the time came, he appeared to the people in the desert of Judea (Matthew 3:1). He was then about 30 years old. Luke will tell us about John’s work in chapter 3.

The birth and childhood of Jesus – Luke 2:1-52

The birth of Jesus – Luke 2:1-7

v1 In those days, *Caesar Augustus issued an order. All the people in the entire *Roman world had to record their names in registers. v2 This was the first register of the people while Quirinius governed Syria. v3 And all the people went to their own towns to register.

v4 So, Joseph went from the town called Nazareth in Galilee. He went to the town called Bethlehem in Judea. Bethlehem was the town of David. Joseph went there because he was a *descendant of David. v5 Joseph went to register with Mary. They had agreed to marry. Mary was expecting a baby. v6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.v7 Mary gave birth to her first son and she wrapped him with pieces of cloth. There was no place for them in the hotel. So, she laid him in a box. Usually, animals ate from that box.

Verses 1-3 *Caesar was the title that *Roman rulers took. They were in effect the kings of Rome. Octavianus Augustus was a nephew of Julius *Caesar. Augustus’ real name was Thurinus but he changed his name to Augustus in 27 *BC. Augustus means ‘honourable’. He became *Caesar after the death of Julius in about 31 *BC. He died in 14 *AD.

Augustus gave the order that all the people must register themselves. The purpose of the registers of people was to charge taxes. This register of the people was when Quirinius governed Syria (verse 2). Bible students are not sure when this happened. There are different ideas about the periods when Quirinius governed Syria, and about the meaning of verse 2.

In *Israel, all the *Jews had to go to the towns of their *ancestors.

Verses 4-7 Joseph and Mary travelled from Nazareth town to Bethlehem in Judea. Joseph was a *descendant of David. Bethlehem was the place where David was born. Mary expected the baby Jesus to be born soon. Mary was married to Joseph (Matthew 1:24-25). Luke says that they had agreed to marry. Perhaps he says this because they had not had sex yet. Joseph was not the father of the baby. The *Holy Spirit had arranged for the birth of Jesus to Mary.

Bethlehem, which means ‘house of bread’, was about 6 miles (10 kilometres) from Jerusalem. It was about three days’ journey for Joseph and Mary from Nazareth. It would have been a rough journey for Mary in her state.

There seems to be no need for Mary to be there. Joseph could register for the family. She was also a *descendant of David. Perhaps for that reason she had to register. But God arranged it this way so that the *Christ would be born there. The *prophet Micah said that this would be so. He spoke about 700 years earlier. He said, ‘But you, Bethlehem, are a very small town. You are so small among Judah’s families. But out of you, a man will come who is for me. He will be the ruler over *Israel. His origin was a long time ago in the past. It was in an ancient time’ (Micah 5:2).

By the time that Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room for them. There is a tradition that Jesus was born in a stable. A stable is a place where people keep animals. That could be right. But it is also possible that Jesus was born in a poor home. In the poorest homes, people and animals lived together, in the same room.

When a child was born, *Jewish women would wash it with water. Then they would rub it with salt and they would wrap it in cloths (Ezekiel 16:4). It seems that Mary did this for the baby Jesus. There may have been nobody there to help her. Therefore, Mary had to do these things herself. Then she laid the baby in a box. Usually, animals ate from that box. But that was the only place where she could put her baby to sleep.

The *shepherds and the *angels – Luke 2:8-20

v8 In the same region, there were *shepherds who were living in the fields. They guarded their sheep during the night. v9 An *angel of the *Lord appeared to them. The *glory of the *Lord shone round them. And they were very afraid. v10 The *angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all the people. v11 Today in the town of David, a *Saviour has been born to you. He is the Christ the *Lord. v12 This is the proof by which you will know him. You will find a baby with cloths round him. He is lying in a box. Usually, animals eat from that box.’

v13 At once with the *angel, there was a great army of *angels from heaven. They were praising God. v14 They said, ‘*Glory to God in the highest heaven. And on earth, let there be peace for the people whom God approves.’

v15 The *angels left them and went back to heaven. Then the *shepherds said to each other, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem. Let us see this thing that has happened. The *Lord has told us about it.’

v16 So, they went quickly and they found Mary, Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in a box. Usually, animals ate from that box. v17 They saw this. Then the *shepherds told everyone what the *angel had said to them about the child. v18 The *shepherds’ reports astonished all who heard them. v19 But Mary remembered all these things. She thought deeply about what they must mean. v20 The *shepherds went back to their sheep. They declared how great God is. And they praised God for all that they had heard. They praised him for all that they had seen. Everything was as the *angel had told them.

Verses 8-14 *Shepherds kept their sheep in the open fields near Bethlehem from about April to November. They may have kept the sheep in the fields later than this if the weather was not too cold. They had to guard their sheep from wild animals and from thieves. So, the *shepherds watched in turn through the night to protect their sheep.

Probably they kept these sheep near Bethlehem to be *sacrifices in the *temple.

Suddenly, light replaced the darkness of the night. An *angel appeared and with him the *glory of the *Lord came. This sight frightened the *shepherds. The *angel told them about the birth of the *Saviour. This is the good news that would give great joy to all people. The *Saviour is the *Christ the *Lord. And he told them how they would recognise the baby Jesus.

The *Jews expected that one day God would send the *Christ to them. The good news that the *Christ had come was to the *Jews first. Then it was good news for all people. People used the word ‘*Lord’ in the *Greek language to translate the name of God from the *Hebrew language. His name ‘the *Lord’ shows that Jesus is God.

Then a large number of *angels appeared in the sky. And, with the first *angel, they praised God. They praised God because he had sent Jesus to save us.

The *angels said, ‘Let there be peace on earth.’ We were all enemies of God because of our *sins. But in Jesus, we can have peace with God. In other words, we have a right relationship with God. In Jesus, God’s enemies become his children.

Verses 15-18 The *angels left the *shepherds. The *shepherds did not doubt the truth of the *angel’s words. They left their sheep and they went to find Jesus. They did not delay but they went quickly. It seems that they knew Bethlehem well. They had to look for a baby, with cloths round it, which was in a box for animal food. And they soon found Mary, Joseph and the baby. Everything was as the *angel had told them. They saw the *Christ who would save his people from their *sins.

The *shepherds told everyone what the *angel had said about the baby. Probably the *angel said a lot more to them than we have in this record. What they said astonished all who heard them.

Verses 19-20 Mary listened to what the *shepherds said. She thought deeply about all that had happened. She tried to understand what it all meant.

The *shepherds returned to their sheep. They praised God for what they had heard. They praised God for what they had seen.

Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the *temple – Luke 2:21-40

v21 The ceremony to *circumcise the baby happened 8 days after his birth. Mary and Joseph gave him the name Jesus. Before Mary was expecting the child, the *angel had given this name to him.

v22 The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony to make them clean. This was to obey what the law of Moses commanded. They took the child to Jerusalem to offer him to the *Lord. v23 (They did this to obey the law of the *Lord. It says that the first male child of every mother belongs to the *Lord.) v24 Also, they went to give the *sacrifice that the *Lord’s law orders. They had to bring two *doves or two young *pigeons.

v25 A man called Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was a good and sincere man. He respected and obeyed God. This man was expecting the *Christ to come and to help *Israel. And God’s *Holy Spirit was with Simeon. v26 The *Holy Spirit had told him that he would see the *Lord’s *Christ. And, that Simeon would not die before he had seen the *Christ. v27 God’s Spirit led him to the *temple area at the time when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus there. They came to do for Jesus what the law orders. v28 Then Simeon took the child in his arms and he praised God.

v29 He said, ‘Now, Master, free your servant to die. Let me be at peace as you promised to me. v30 With my eyes I have seen the *Christ whom you have sent to save the people. v31 You have prepared him for people from all nations to see. v32 He is like a light that will show your truth to the nations. He will bring honour and *glory to your people, *Israel.’

v33 What Simeon said about him astonished the child’s father and mother. v34 Then Simeon blessed them. He spoke to Jesus’ mother, Mary. He said, ‘This child will cause many people in *Israel to fall and to rise. He will be a sign from God but many people will oppose him. v35 This will show clearly what people really think in their hearts. And you, yourself, will suffer and be sad. It will be as if a sword cut through your heart.’

v36 Anna, a *prophet, was also there. She was a *descendant of Phanuel from the *tribe of Asher. She was now very old. Her husband had died 7 years after they married. v37 She had been a widow a long time. She was now 84 years old. She never left the *temple area. She *worshipped God day and night. She prayed to God and often she went without food. v38 At that moment, she came to Mary and Joseph and she began to thank God. She spoke about Jesus to all who were waiting for God to free Jerusalem.

v39 Mary and Joseph finished all the things that the *Lord’s law orders. Then they went home to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. v40 The child grew and he became strong. He was learning to be wise. God was pleased with him and he *blessed Jesus.

Verses 21-24 On the 8th day, *Jewish parents must *circumcise a baby boy (Genesis 17:12). Mary and Joseph did all that the law ordered. So Mary and Joseph arranged for this to happen at the proper time. Mary and Joseph obeyed what the *angel had told Mary. They gave the name Jesus to the baby (1:31).

Every first son belonged to the *Lord. The parents had to pay money to the *Lord for the first son when he was a month old. This was to buy back the boy. The fee was 5 *shekels (Numbers 18:15-16)

In *Jewish law, a woman became unclean on the birth of her child because of the blood. The mother was unclean for 40 days after the birth if the baby was a boy (Leviticus 12:4). To be unclean meant that the woman could not go to the *temple. And she could not join with other people as they *worshipped God. At the end of this period, the woman had to bring a *sacrifice to the *Lord. This *sacrifice was a *lamb, with a *dove or *pigeon. If she could not afford a *lamb, she would bring two *doves or two young *pigeons (Leviticus 12:6-8).

So, at the proper time, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the *Lord. They brought the *sacrifices to make Mary clean. Mary and Joseph were not wealthy and they could not afford to bring a *lamb. So, they brought either two *doves or two young *pigeons.

Verses 25-28 We know nothing more about Simeon than is in this passage. It seems that he was an old man. He was a good man and he trusted in God. He was expecting the *Saviour to come. And the *Holy Spirit had told Simeon that he would see the *Lord’s *Christ. The *Christ would come before Simeon died.

The *Holy Spirit led Simeon to go into the *temple. So, he was there when Mary and Joseph came in with Jesus. Then Simeon knew that the baby Jesus was the *Christ. Here was what he had waited for. It would have been a time of great emotion and joy for Simeon. He took the baby in his arms and he praised God.

Verses 29-32 Many Christians know what Simeon said here as the Nunc Dimittis. These are the first two words in the *Latin translation of this passage. It means, ‘Now let me die.’

Simeon, the servant of the *Lord, was now ready to die. His ambition had been to see the *Christ. Now with his own eyes, he had seen him whom God had sent. He had only seen a baby, but by *faith, he saw the *Saviour. He had seen Jesus who would save his people from their *sins.

In death, Simeon would be at peace. In other words, all the troubles of this life would end and he would go to be with his *Lord.

The *Lord Jesus did not come only for *Israel. He came for people from all the nations in the world. God wanted all nations to hear the good news. God sent Jesus to save people in every nation from their *sins. He saves all who believe him. They must *repent of their *sins and they must trust him.

The structure of these verses is a typical *Hebrew poem. It says the same idea in two ways. So, in verse 29 both sentences show the same thing. Verses 30 and 31 are a couple. And in verse 32, the light to the nations and the honour and *glory for *Israel are a couple.

Verses 33-35 Mary and Joseph were aware of the things that Simeon had said about Jesus. But it astonished them that this man said such things. He had come to the *temple at that exact time. They could see that the *Lord had sent him. Now he spoke to Mary about the future of Jesus.

The *Lord Jesus will be a cause of division among people. They will be either for him or against him. Some people will refuse to accept him. They will be like people who fall (Isaiah 8:14-15). Such people have no hope of *salvation if they do not change their attitudes. But the *Lord will raise up the people who trust him. In other words, he will give them new life.

Jesus will show what God is like. Many people will refuse to believe this. And they will become his enemies.

Mary will see how Jesus dies (John 19:25). This will feel as terrible as a sword that cuts through her heart. As his mother, she will feel the pain of his death.

Verses 36-38 Asher was one of the 10 *tribes of *Israel that Assyria removed from the country called *Israel. Some people from those *tribes had remained in *Israel. Many people from these *tribes joined with Judah during the rule of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:1-11). Anna belonged to the *tribe of Asher.

Anna had been married for 7 years but her husband had died. For many years, she had been a widow. At this time, she was 84 years old. And she was praying in the *temple every day.

When Mary and Joseph had come into the *temple, Anna came to them. Maybe she was there as Simeon took Jesus in his arms. She saw the baby Jesus. She knew that he was the *Christ. She praised God. She spoke about Jesus to those people who waited for God to send the *Christ.

Verses 39-40 Mary and Joseph returned to their home in Nazareth. But this was not immediately after this visit to the *temple. They were in Bethlehem for a period of time. Then they went to Egypt because King Herod wanted to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13-23). After Herod’s death, they made their home in Nazareth where Jesus grew up.

Jesus grew in body and mind as a boy and as a man. He was the Son of God; but he was a real man as well. God his Father watched over his development.

The boy Jesus in the *temple – Luke 2:41-52

v41 Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the *Passover *feast. v42 When Jesus was 12 years old, they went to the *feast as usual. v43 When the days of the *feast were over, they started to go home. The boy Jesus stayed in Jerusalem but his parents did not know it. v44 They thought that Jesus was in the group of travellers. They went on their journey for a day. Then they looked for Jesus among their family and friends. v45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him there. v46 After three days, they found Jesus in the *temple. He was sitting there among the teachers. He was listening to the teachers and he was asking them questions. v47 His intelligence and his answers astonished all who heard him. v48 When his parents saw him, it astonished them also. His mother asked him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Look! Your father and I have been very worried as we looked for you.’

v49 Jesus said to them, ‘You did not need to look for me. You should have known that I must be in my Father’s house.’ v50 But they did not understand what he said to them.

v51 Then Jesus went with them to Nazareth town and he obeyed them. But his mother kept in her heart all that had happened. v52 Jesus grew in wisdom and he became a mature man. God was pleased with him and so were the people.

Verses 41-42 God’s law said that *Jewish men should go to Jerusalem each year for the three main *feasts (Exodus 23:17 and 34:23). These *feasts were *Passover, *Pentecost and the *feast of shelters. If they could not go to all three *feasts, they made a special effort to go for *Passover. Joseph and Mary went every year for the *Passover *feast. Women did not have to go but many went with their husbands.

At the age of 13, boys become men in the *Jewish religion. At that age, they could take part as adults in the *feasts. It was usual for boys to go to the *feasts before that age. And they often went a year before. So, Jesus went with Mary and Joseph when he was 12 years old.

Verses 43-44 The *Passover *feast lasted 8 days. The first day was the *Passover when they killed the young sheep. Then there were 7 days for the *feast of bread without *yeast (Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 23:5-6).

At the end of the *feast, Mary and Joseph began the three day journey back to Nazareth. They went with a group of relatives and friends. They thought that Jesus would be with friends in the group. Often men and women walked in separate groups. Joseph may have thought that Jesus was with Mary. And Mary may have thought that Jesus was with Joseph. However, at the end of the day, they could not find him. They did not know that Jesus had remained in Jerusalem.

Verses 45-47 Mary and Joseph supposed that Jesus was still in Jerusalem. They were so worried that they hurried back there. After three days, or on the third day, they found Jesus. The first day was the journey from Jerusalem. The second day was the journey back to Jerusalem. On the third day, or the day after, they found Jesus.

Jesus was in the *temple with the teachers of religion. He listened to them and he asked them questions. Also, they asked him questions. At the age of 12 years, he astonished the people with his knowledge.

Verses 48-50 Mary and Joseph had not expected to find Jesus with the famous teachers. The way that people respected him astonished them. But Mary expressed the worry that she and Joseph had felt. She asked Jesus why he had done this to them.

This incident causes all kinds of questions in our minds. But Jesus gave them an answer that they did not understand. They should have known that God was Jesus’ Father, not Joseph. It was natural that Jesus should be in his Father’s house. Jesus had to do his Father’s work. There was no need for Mary and Joseph to worry. There was no need for them to look for him.

Verses 51-52 Jesus went home with Mary and Joseph. He was God’s son but he was also the son of Mary. So, he obeyed his human parents. Mary remembered all that had happened. And she thought much about these events.

Jesus grew into the perfect man. God was pleased with him and all the people respected him.

John the *Baptist *preaches – Luke 3:1-20

v1 It was the 15th year during the rule of the *emperor Tiberius. Pontius Pilate was ruler of Judea. Herod ruled Galilee, and his brother Philip ruled Iturea and Trachonitis. Lysanias was the ruler of Abilene. v2 Annas and Caiaphas were the *Jewish chief priests. At that time, God spoke his word to Zechariah’s son John, who lived in the desert. v3 So, John went all over the area near the Jordan River and he spoke to the people. He told them to *repent of their *sins. Then he would *baptise them to show that God had forgiven their *sins. v4 As the *prophet Isaiah wrote in his book, ‘A voice cries out in the desert. “Prepare the way for the *Lord. Make straight paths for him. v5 Make every valley level. Make every mountain and hill low. Make straight the roads that curve. Make the rough roads smooth. v6 And everyone will see how God saves people from their *sins.” ’

v7 Many people came to John for him to *baptise them. He spoke to them, ‘You are like young poisonous snakes. I want to know who warned you to run away from God’s anger.

v8 You need to *repent. You must show that it is real. Do not begin to say among yourselves, “Abraham is our father.” I tell you that God can make children for Abraham from these stones! v9 The axe is already at the root of the trees. The axe will cut down every tree that does not produce good fruit. And fire will burn that tree.’

v10 The people asked John, ‘What should we do then?’

v11 John answered them. ‘If you have two shirts, give one away. Give it to a person who does not have a shirt. If you have food, share it with other people.’

v12 Even some men who collected taxes came for John to *baptise them. They asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ v13 He told them, ‘Do not collect anything more than is due.’

v14 Some soldiers asked John, ‘What about us? What should we do?’ John said to them, ‘Do not force people to give you money. And do not tell lies about them. Let the pay that you get satisfy you.’

v15 The people expected the *Christ to come. So, they asked themselves whether John might be the *Christ. v16 John answered everyone, ‘I *baptise you with water. But there will come someone who is stronger than I. I am not important enough to be the servant who undoes his *sandals. He will *baptise you with the *Holy Spirit and fire. v17 He will come as one ready to clean completely the yard where he prepares his wheat. He will gather the wheat grains into his store. But he will burn the rubbish in a fire that nobody can put out.’

v18 With many other words, John encouraged the people. And he explained the good news to them. v19 But John spoke against the ruler Herod because Herod had married Herodias, his brother’s wife. Also, John spoke against Herod because of all the evil things that he did. v20 So Herod carried out another evil deed in addition. He put John in prison.

Verses 1-2 Tiberius was the *emperor of Rome. He became *emperor in 14 *AD. But he ruled with Augustus for two years before he became the *emperor. He ruled in Rome for 23 years and he died in 37 *AD. So, the date that the *Lord sent John to speak to the people was either about 28 *AD or about 26 *AD.

Pontius Pilate was *Roman, and he governed Judea from 26 *AD to 36 *AD. Some people accused him of serious crimes. Therefore, he had to return to Rome. But before he arrived there in 37 *AD, Tiberius died. Soon after this, Pilate killed himself.

Herod Antipas ruled in Galilee from about 4 *BC. The *emperor Caligula, who came after Tiberius, removed Herod in 39 *AD. Philip ruled in some territories to the north of Israel from about 4 *BC until his death in 33 *AD or 34 *AD. Both Herod and Philip were sons of Herod the Great. We know nothing about Lysanias.

Iturea was to the north of Israel and to the east of the Jordan River. Trachonitis was to the east of Iturea. And Abilene was to the north of Trachonitis.

Annas was the *Jewish chief priest from 6 *AD to 15 *AD . Five (5) of his sons later became chief priests. The first of these sons was Eleazar, who was chief priest in 16 *AD to 17 *AD. Annas continued to be powerful through the time when Caiaphas was the chief priest. Annas was the father of Caiaphas’ wife. Caiaphas was the chief priest from 18 *AD to 36 *AD.

John the *Baptist lived in the desert. At this time, God spoke to him.

Verses 3-4 Then John came from the desert to the Jordan River. Here he spoke to the people about their *sins. He told them to *repent of their *sins. The meaning of *repentance is a change of mind. It includes to be sorry for *sins and a change of life. As people *repented, John *baptised them in the Jordan River.

John was the ‘voice’ about whom Isaiah wrote. John’s task was to prepare people for the time when the *Christ came (Isaiah 40:3). He warned people to be ready because the *Christ would come soon.

Verses 5-6 When a king approached, the people would clear all the roads ahead of him. They would remove all that could delay him. They would make the rough roads smooth and straight. Luke uses this *prophecy to show that people must prepare for the *Christ. John’s task was to make people ready to receive the *Christ. The *salvation that the *Christ brings is for all the world. People in all places will see this *salvation.

Verses 7-8 Crowds of people came to John for him to *baptise them. Among those crowds were *Pharisees and *Sadducees. These men were the leaders of the *Jewish religion. But many of them were not sincere. So John spoke these hard words to them (Matthew 3:7). He said that they were like poisonous snakes. And they could not escape the anger of God by *baptism.

*Baptism alone cannot save people from their *sins. There has to be true *repentance and real belief in Christ. The proof of *repentance will be the change in the life of the person.

Many *Jews thought that they were safe. God would accept them because they were *descendants of Abraham. But they were wrong. The real *descendants of Abraham are those people who believe in the *Christ (Galatians 3:29).

If a fruit tree does not have fruit, the gardener will cut it down. He will burn it with fire. So, God will not save people unless they *repent of their *sins. God as the judge is like the gardener who is ready with his axe.

Verses 10-14 John had told the people to show that they had *repented. They asked him what they should do. He gave to them some examples of the kind of things that they should do. People who *repent should do good deeds to the poor. They should share their goods with people who have nothing. God very much wants us to do good deeds. He cares about poor people, so we should care about them too.

Some men who collected taxes asked John the same question. They collected taxes for the *Roman government. But they were able to take more money than was due from the people. In this way, they robbed the people and they often became wealthy. John told them to collect only the tax that was due and nothing more.

Next, there came some soldiers with the same question. These men were probably *Jewish soldiers rather than *Roman soldiers. John told them that they should not use unnecessary force. They should not use their strength to get money from the people. They should not tell lies when they accuse someone. Their wages, which included other benefits, should satisfy them.

Such good deeds are the effect of *repentance. They are not works to achieve *salvation.

Verses 15-17 The sudden appearance of this *prophet from the desert caused people to ask who he was. They knew from the *Old Testament that God would send the *Christ. At that time, the *Jews expected that the *Christ would come soon. Maybe John was the *Christ whom God had promised to send.

John knew their thoughts. He told the people that he was not the *Christ. But he taught them that the *Christ would come soon. And he told them something about the nature of the *Christ.

The *Christ is superior to John in every way. John felt that he was not good enough to do such a small thing as to undo the *Christ’s *sandals. A servant would do this task for his master. John *baptised with water. But the *Christ will *baptise with the *Holy Spirit and fire. This is what happened on the day of *Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). The *disciples of Jesus received power from the *Holy Spirit. This was so much greater than John’s *baptism with water.

Then John spoke about the work of the *Christ. John used the language of agriculture to explain this. The *Christ will test people as the farmer tests his grain. The farmer beats his grain to separate the good grain from the husk (the grain’s outer skin). Then he throws it all into the air. The good grain falls straight to the ground. The farmer puts the good grain in a safe store. But the husks blow a bit further away in the wind. The farmer gathers this rubbish and he burns it with fire. So, the *Christ will be the judge of all people. He will separate the people who belong to him from other people. His people will go to the safety of heaven. But he will punish the people who oppose him, as with fire.

Verses 19-20 Herod Antipas divorced his first wife and he married Herodias. She was the wife of one of his brothers. This was one of many *sins of Herod. He was an evil man. John the *Baptist was bold enough to speak against Herod. So, Herod put John in prison.

John *baptises Jesus – Luke 3:21-22

v21 When John *baptised all the people, he *baptised Jesus too. While Jesus prayed, heaven opened. v22 And the *Holy Spirit came down on Jesus in the physical form of a *dove. And a voice from heaven said, ‘You are my Son. I love you and you please me very much.’

Verses 21-22 Jesus came to John and asked for *baptism. Matthew’s *Gospel tells us more about this event. John recognised that Jesus was superior to him. So, he said that Jesus ought to *baptise him. Jesus insisted that John should *baptise him. John’s *baptism was a *baptism of *repentance. But Jesus had no *sins and therefore he did not need to *repent. He asked John to *baptise him because it was the right thing to do (Matthew 3:15). In this, he chose to be like the people whom he came to save. He was truly humble.

As Jesus came out of the water, he prayed. He saw heaven open and the *Holy Spirit of God came down upon him (Mark 1:10). Also, John the *Baptist saw the *Holy Spirit as he came down like a *dove. By this means, John the *Baptist knew that Jesus was the *Christ (John 1:33-34).

Then a voice spoke from heaven. It was the voice of God the Father. God said to Jesus, ‘You are my son. I love you and you please me very much.’ God declared that Jesus is his Son.

The family history of Jesus – Luke 3:23-38

v23 Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his work. People called Jesus the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli.

v24 Heli was the son of Matthat. Matthat was the son of Levi. Levi was the son of Melki. Melki was the son of Jannai. Jannai was the son of Joseph. v25 Joseph was the son of Mattathias. Mattathias was the son of Amos. Amos was the son of Nahum. Nahum was the son of Esli. Esli was the son of Naggai. v26 Naggai was the son of Maath. Maath was the son of Mattathias. Mattathias was the son of Semein.

Semein was the son of Josech. Josech was the son of Joda. v27 Joda was the son of Joanan. Joanan was the son of Rhesa. Rhesa was the son of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel. Shealtiel was the son of Neri. v28 Neri was the son of Melki. Melki was the son of Addi. Addi was the son of Cosam. Cosam was the son of Elmadam. Elmadam was the son of Er. v29 Er was the son of Joshua.

Joshua was the son of Eliezer. Eliezer was the son of Jorim. Jorim was the son of Matthat. Matthat was the son of Levi. v30 Levi was the son of Simeon. Simeon was the son of Judah. Judah was the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Jonam. Jonam was the son of Eliakim. v31 Eliakim was the son of Melea. Melea was the son of Menna. Menna was the son of Mattatha. Mattatha was the son of Nathan.

Nathan was the son of David. v32 David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was the son of Obed. Obed was the son of Boaz. Boaz was the son of Salmon. Salmon was the son of Nahshon. v33 Nahshon was the son of Amminadab. Amminadab was the son of Ram. Ram was the son of Hezron. Hezron was the son of Perez. Perez was the son of Judah. v34 Judah was the son of Jacob.

Jacob was the son of Isaac. Isaac was the son of Abraham. Abraham was the son of Terah. Terah was the son of Nahor. v35 Nahor was the son of Serug. Serug was the son of Reu. Reu was the son of Peleg. Peleg was the son of Eber. Eber was the son of Shelah. v36 Shelah was the son of Cainan. Cainan was the son of Arphaxad. Arphaxad was the son of Shem. Shem was the son of Noah.

Noah was the son of Lamech. v37 Lamech was the son of Methuselah. Methuselah was the son of Enoch. Enoch was the son of Jared. Jared was the son of Mahalaleel. Mahalaleel was the son of Cainan. v38 Cainan was the son of Enosh. Enosh was the son of Seth. Seth was the son of Adam. Adam was the son of God.

Verses 23-38 Jesus began his special work for God when he was approximately 30 years old.

To the *Jews, family history was very important. God had promised to send the *Christ who would be from David’s family. It was necessary to show that the *Christ was a *descendant of David. So, both Matthew and Luke record the family history. Here is an explanation for the two different family lists.

Matthew gives the legal list of names from Abraham to Joseph. In *Jewish law, Joseph was the father of Jesus but in fact, he was not. Matthew starts with Abraham and comes forward in time (Matthew 1:2-16). This shows that Jesus as a man comes from the *Jewish nation. Jesus was the *Christ that God promised to *Israel.

Luke shows that Jesus is not in fact a son of Joseph. So, he gives the list of Mary’s *ancestors. Joseph was the son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16). Heli was his father-in-law (the father of Joseph’s wife Mary). Mary was the daughter of Heli. Probably Luke used the name of the male, Joseph, as it was the custom of the *Jews at that time. The *Jews would not usually end or start the family list with a woman. They would give the name of her husband instead.

Luke shows the family list from Joseph and he goes back in time to Adam. This shows the man Jesus as a relative of all people and not just of the *Jews. God promised Adam that his *descendant would defeat *Satan (Genesis 3:15). This *descendant was Jesus.

The devil tests Jesus – Luke 4:1-4:13

v1 Jesus was full of the *Holy Spirit as he returned from the Jordan River. Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert. v2 For 40 days in the desert, the devil *tempted him. Jesus did not eat anything during those days. And at the end of those days, he was very hungry.

v3 Then the devil spoke to Jesus. ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’ v4 Jesus answered him from the Bible. ‘*Scripture says, “A person cannot live on bread alone.’ ”

v5 The devil took Jesus up to a high place. And he showed Jesus all the *kingdoms of the world in an instant. v6 The devil said to Jesus, ‘I will give to you all this power and the *glory of these nations. All of it belongs to me. And I can give it to anyone that I wish. v7 So, if you *worship me, it will all be yours.’

v8 Jesus answered him from the Bible. ‘*Scripture says, “*Worship the *Lord your God.” And it says, “Serve only him.” ’

v9 Then the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem. And he put Jesus on the highest part of the *temple. The devil said to Jesus. ‘If you are the Son of God, jump down from here. v10 The *scriptures say, “God will order his *angels to preserve you from danger.” v11 Also, the *scriptures say, “The *angels will carry you in their hands so that you will not hurt your foot against a stone.” ’

v12 Again, Jesus answered the devil. ‘The *scriptures say, “Do not test the *Lord your God.” ’

v13 After the devil had *tempted Jesus in every way, he left Jesus for a time.

Verses 1-2 The *Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at his *baptism in the Jordan River. The *Holy Spirit came into Jesus so that Jesus was full of the *Holy Spirit. Then Jesus went away from the river. The *Holy Spirit made Jesus go into the desert. Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. During that time, he had nothing to eat. All through these 40 days, the devil *tempted Jesus. But the final attack of the devil came at the end of that time.

Verses 3-4 The devil, who is also called *Satan, opposes God and God’s people. Often he works by means of evil spirits or *demons.

Jesus was by this time very hungry. So, the devil came to him. What he said meant this: ‘You can make bread from a stone. By this, you can prove that you are the Son of God. Do it and satisfy your hunger. Use your power for your own benefit.’ *Satan *tempted Christ to act apart from *faith in God.

Jesus answered the devil from the Bible. He repeated words from Deuteronomy 8:3. In that verse, Moses reminded *Israel that for 40 years in the desert God gave food to them. Then Moses said, ‘Man does not live on bread alone. But man shall live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

We need to listen to the words that God speaks. For us today, the normal way that God speaks is by means of the Bible.

Verses 5-8 The devil took Jesus to a high place. We do not know whether this was a physical mountain. But from this place, the devil showed Jesus all the *kingdoms of the world. He could not do this from any one place on earth. So clearly, the devil gave to Jesus a *vision of the whole world. He showed Jesus all the wealth and the *glory of the nations.

*Satan said that he owned all these nations. God has allowed *Satan to have some power over the nations. Jesus calls *Satan ‘the ruler of this world’ (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11). This does not say that *Satan owns the world. But he does have great authority in the world.

If Jesus *worshipped *Satan, *Satan promised to give all these nations to Jesus. That would mean that Jesus accepted *Satan’s authority. They would not still be enemies. Then Jesus would not have gone to the cross to die for our *sins. And there would have been be no *salvation for us.

Again, Jesus answered the devil from the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:13). It was wrong to *worship *Satan. Jesus would remain completely loyal to God, his Father.

Verses 9-12 A third time *Satan *tempted Jesus. He took Jesus to Jerusalem. This was probably in another *vision. He asked Jesus to throw himself off from a certain high point of the *temple. This would prove that Jesus is the Son of God. *Satan even used the Bible to argue that Jesus would be safe (Psalm 91:11-12).

Jesus did not need to do a *miracle to prove who he was. Instead, Jesus answered *Satan by another *scripture (Deuteronomy 6:16). It is wrong to test God. We must not expect God to do what we want. We must not try to achieve God’s purposes by methods that are not proper.

Verse 13 The devil would continue to *tempt Jesus. But for now, he went away.

Word List

AD ~ years after Jesus Christ.

altar ~ a special table where priests burned *sacrifices or *incense for God.

ancestors ~ people in history from whom your family has come.

angel ~ a servant of God from heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages. So, angels are God’s servants from heaven. But there are evil angels who opposed God. These evil angels now serve the devil.

apostle ~ someone whom God sends; especially one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose to be his helpers.

baptise ~ to use water in a special ceremony to show that God has forgiven (washed away) a person’s *sin.

baptism ~ the act when a person *baptises someone.

Baptist ~ the title that we use for John, whom God sent to prepare people for the *Christ’s arrival.

BC ~ years before Jesus Christ.

bless ~ to be especially kind to someone.

Caesar ~ a title of the *Roman ruler.

church ~ a group of Christians. The word ‘church’ has two main meanings. Sometimes the meaning is one church in a particular place; and the Christians who meet there. But sometimes the word ‘church’ means Christians everywhere, especially in the phrase ‘the whole church’.

Christ ~ the Christ is the name for the person whom God would send to be the *Saviour of his people. Jesus is the Christ and he was called Christ.

circumcise ~ to cut off the loose skin from the end of the sex part of a boy.

demons ~ evil *angels that serve the devil.

descendant ~ a future member of a family or nation.

disciple ~ a person who follows a leader, especially the 12 men that Jesus chose to be with him.

dove ~ a type of bird.

emperor ~ an important ruler, like a king. The *Romans called their ruler an emperor.

exile ~ When people have to live in a foreign country, they are in exile. Such a person is called an exile.

faith ~ trust in someone or something; belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ his Son.

feast ~ a time to eat and drink. The special times of *Jewish ceremonies are feasts.

glory ~ great honour and beauty.

gospel ~ the good news that God saves people from *sin because of Jesus Christ.

Gospel ~ The first 4 books of the *New Testament are called Gospels.

Greek ~ the original language of the *New Testament.

Hebrew ~ the language of the *Jews and of the *Old Testament.

Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit whom Jesus sent to help his people. The Holy Spirit is another name for God, also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the Comforter. The Holy Spirit is a person but not human. He carries out God’s work on earth. He is God, equal with God the Father and with God the Son.

incense ~ something that gives a sweet smell when it burns. The priests burned it when they praised God in the *temple.

Israel ~ the country of the *Jews.

Jewish ~ people or things that are from the *Jews.

Jews ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their *descendants.

kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules. In the *New Testament, we often read about God’s kingdom. This nearly always means the people over whom God rules, and not a territory on earth.

lamb ~ a young sheep.

Lamb ~ a name for Jesus because he died as a *sacrifice for our *sin. He is called the Lamb of God.

Latin ~ an old language that Christians used in *worship.

leper ~ a person with a serious skin disease called leprosy.

Lord ~ a title for God, or Jesus, to show that he is over all people and things. In the *Old Testament, LORD was a special name for God. The word ‘Lord’ can also mean a master or a ruler.

miracle ~ a powerful deed that does not happen by natural means. Often, miracles seem impossible to explain. Miracles show God’s power.

Most High ~ a name for God.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus on earth.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.

Passover ~ annual ceremony (*feast) to remember God’s rescue of the *Jews from Egypt.

Pentecost ~ annual ceremony (*feast) when the *Jews thank God for the harvest.

Pharisees ~ A group of *Jews who tried to keep all God’s rules. They thought that by this they could please God.

pigeon ~ a bird.

preach ~ to speak God’s message in public, and to teach his word.

pregnant ~ the state of a woman who is expecting a baby.

prophecy ~ a message from God that a person speaks by the power of the *Holy Spirit.

prophesy ~ to speak a *prophecy.

prophet ~ a person who speaks for God. A prophet can sometimes say what will happen in the future.

repent ~ to change one’s mind and heart. People who repent must turn their minds and hearts away from *sin. They ask God to help them so that they can now serve him.

repentance ~ the act of someone who *repents.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the rulers at the time of the *New Testament. Anything that belonged to Rome was called *Roman.

Sabbath ~ the *Jewish day for rest and *worship. It is our Saturday.

sacrifice ~ something that people gave to God. It was usually an animal or a bird that the priests burned on an *altar. Sometimes people gave sacrifices in order to thank God. And sometimes people gave sacrifices so that God could forgive *sin. When Jesus died, he was the perfect sacrifice for our *sins.

Sadducees ~ a group of *Jews who did not believe that people can live after death.

salvation ~ the result when God saves us from *sin and punishment; the new life that God gives to those people who believe in the *Lord Jesus.

Samaritan ~ Samaria was a region to the north of Judea. Samaritans are people from Samaria.

sandals ~ a shoe with a piece of leather underneath and leather pieces to fit to the foot.

Satan ~ a name for the devil. There are several other names for him in the *New Testament. In the *Hebrew language, Satan means ‘the accuser’; that is, the enemy.

Saviour ~ a title of Jesus. He is called the Saviour because he saves us from our *sins.

Scripture ~ the books of the Bible.

shekel ~ *Jewish money.

shepherd ~ someone who takes care of sheep.

sin ~ the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God.

soul ~ the part of a person that we cannot see. It is in us during our life. And it continues to live after we die. It is our inner life (not the body).

temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God. The *Jews had a temple in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God. But at other temples, people *worshipped false gods.

tempt ~ to test someone. The devil tempts someone when he tries to persuade that person to do wrong and evil things.

throne ~ the special chair for the king or for an important person.

tribe ~ a large family of people who have a common *ancestor. The nation called *Israel grew from the 12 sons of Jacob. Their 12 families became the 12 tribes of *Israel.

vision ~ like a dream. During a vision, a person seems to see something that has a special message or meaning for him. The person may or may not be asleep when he sees the vision.

worship ~ the act when someone shows honour to God (or to a false god). When a person worships, that person praises God. That person thanks God. And that person respects God.

yeast ~ a substance that makes bread rise before someone bakes it.

Book List

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Joseph A Fitzmyer ~ The Gospel According to Luke ~ The Anchor Bible

I. Howard Marshall ~ Commentary on Luke ~ New International Greek Testament Commentary

Walter L. Liefeld ~ The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

Leon Morris ~ Luke ~ The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries

Bibles: NIV, ASV, CEV, TEV, GW, ISV, KJV, LITV, MKJV, RV

A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek New Testament

 

© 2010, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

November 2010

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