By Mari Kaimo, co-host, The 700 Club Asia
Since this is part of a series, we will borrow an introductory paragraph from a previous post:
“One of the Bible’s teachings that is frequently attacked is that of the deity of Christ. But every single one of the New Testament’s four Gospels declares Jesus as God. And every single one of them does so in the very first chapter. We must also remember that, if the Gospel authors assert Christ’s divinity in their very first chapters, this means that Jesus is God throughout the entire book. Jesus cannot start off as God and lose His deity a few chapters later. That would make no sense. Either He is God, or He isn’t. And we must let the text show us what it says. In its proper context. There will be no pretexts here.”
In this post, we go through the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
After a brief explanation of why he is writing this account of the life of Jesus, Luke relates the story of Zechariah and the miracles that accompanied the gift he received from God.
Zechariah was a priest who served in the Temple. His wife Elizabeth was a cousin of Mary, who was soon to become the honored woman who would bear the Messiah in her womb. Zechariah and Elizabeth were well along in years but had never had a child.
One day, as Zechariah was performing his duties in the Temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him the good news. He was going to be a father to the man who would later be known as John the Baptist. What was John’s mission to be?
16 “He will turn many of the sons of Israel
to the Lord their God.
17 And he will go before Him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of fathers
to their children,
and the disobedient
to the understanding of the righteous,
to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.”
If you missed what was just said, read those two verses again slowly (italics mine).
Gabriel told Zechariah that John would turn “many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.”
Immediately following that statement, the angel said John would go before Him, meaning Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, “to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.”
John the Baptist was going to go before the very same “Lord their God” Who would use John to turn people’s hearts back to Him.
John was going to prepare the way for the very same God Who was coming to dwell amongst His people.
But this startling statement was not made in a vacuum. It had been prophesied hundreds of years before:
1 “See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts.
3 A voice of one crying out:
Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness;
make a straight highway for our God in the desert.
God Himself was coming to His Temple. And He was coming in the form of a Man. But there are more witnesses to confirm the deity of the One Who was to come in this opening chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
To further highlight the truly momentous and supernatural nature of the birth which was about to take place, once more YHWH sends Gabriel to earth with a message for a particularly blessed young lady.
Gabriel appeared to Mary and said,
31 Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.
35 The angel replied to her:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.”
We have this account no doubt from another very close eyewitness, one of the closest to Jesus who ever lived, Mary, Jesus’ mother. It would have been Mary herself who told this story to Luke, and it is she who brings us the words of the angel.
In the four verses above, Gabriel tells us that Jesus is God:
– He is the Son of the Most High, a title of deity (cf. Isaiah 9:6-7)
– His accession to the throne of David and His eternal reign also indicates His divinity
– He is called the holy One and the Son of God, which are also references to His deity
But again, there is more from this very first chapter of Luke. The pregnant Mary has come to visit her also pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, who is carrying the future John the Baptist:
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 Then she exclaimed with a loud cry:
“You are the most blessed of women,
and your child will be blessed!
43 How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
In this exchange, not only do we see the future prophet in Elizabeth’s womb responding to the Presence of His Messiah, but in verse 43, Elizabeth confirms for us that the Child Mary bears is God when she says, “the mother of my Lord.”
In her response, Mary acknowledges the singular honor that has been bestowed on her:
46 And Mary said:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48 because He has looked with favor
on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
49 because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and His name is holy.
Luke the evangelist ends the chapter with yet another paean to the grace and mercy of YHWH our Redeemer, as well as a prophecy of what was to come. Upon the birth of John the Baptist, his father Zechariah is filled with the Spirit of God and prophesies that the age of Messiah has finally come:
68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has visited
and provided redemption for His people.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David,
70 just as He spoke by the mouth
of His holy prophets in ancient times;
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the clutches of those who hate us.
72 He has dealt mercifully with our fathers
and remembered His holy covenant—
73 the oath that He swore to our father Abraham.
He has given us the privilege,
74 since we have been rescued
from our enemies’ clutches,
to serve Him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness
in His presence all our days.
76 And child, you will be called
a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare His ways,
77 to give His people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion,
the Dawn from on high will visit us
79 to shine on those who live in darkness
and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The redemption, the salvation, the fulfillment of the promise made to the prophets and patriarchs, the rescue from enemies, the holiness and righteousness which can now be enjoyed by all who honestly and humbly seek it, Zechariah prophesies that all of these have come with Messiah.
Zechariah knows that his son, as the Lord’s prophet, is the last step towards fulfillment of the long-awaited promise of a Savior. And he, too, echoes the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi in calling Messiah by divine titles: “the Most High,” “Lord,” and “the Dawn from on high.”
It is plain to see that there is not the faintest shadow of a doubt Who Jesus was in the eyes of those who loved and followed Him.
Jesus is Lord!