A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …
At the beginning of John’s testimony about the man whom he left everything in his life to follow, Jesus’ best friend, the apostle John, wrote this:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own [the descendants of Jacob] did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-14, The New International Version; BibleGateway.com)
Matthew, another man who left everything to follow Jesus, and who became one of the Rabbi’s “inner twelve,” wrote this testimony:
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet [Isaiah]: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ [Isaiah 7:14] (which means “God with us”).
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus [Yeshua, in Hebrew].” (Matthew 1:18-25, NIV)
Luke was a physician and researcher who followed along with Paul — the man chosen by Jesus to take the gospel (good news) to the Gentiles (individuals who were not direct descendants of Jacob, or ISRAEL and were not included in the covenant that He made with them). His account of Jesus’ birth began like this:
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account … so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
Luke acknowledged that he was not an eyewitness, but his careful research confirmed much of what John and Matthew detailed in their gospels. However, Luke goes further than they did, including facts about other members of Mary’s family — Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. You can read about that in Luke 1:5-23.
Luke the writer includes emotion in his account of history, when he tells of the angelic visitor who startled Mary — the virgin betrothed to Joseph (a direct descendant of David) — but then immediately assured her not to be afraid. Read about that emotional encounter in Luke 1:26-38.
Luke also writes about the joy that Elizabeth experienced during her sixth month of pregnancy when Mary came to visit. And Elizabeth was not the only one who felt joyful:
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” (Luke 1:41-42)
The unexpected journey to the cross begins with amazement and joy!
Next: The joys of surprise and new life!