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Luke 1
! Introduction
            When my grandmother and her children were refugees coming out of Russia, there was a day when they had no food.
My grandmother was desperate and called out to God to provide for them.
She had no resources, she could see no possibility of resources and only God could supply their needs.
She cried out to the God whom she trusted and whom she believed was able to meet their needs.
God provided for them.
Have you ever been in an impossible situation and you were brought to the place where you cried out to God in your need?
I have experienced it several times - not to the same intensity as my grandmother, but I do recall crying out to God because there was no other hope.
One time was when we were preparing to move here and we were only a few days away from having to move and we were not sure where we would move because we still did not have a place to move into.
When we cry out to God in this way, what we are doing is looking to one who does not have limits as we do.
We look to the God for whom nothing is impossible.
When we look at the world in which we live, we see a world that is headed for destruction.
There are wars and famines and evil people all around.
Trust, peace, abundance are rare in most parts of the world and righteousness is even more rare.
It is an impossible situation and we need God to break into this world to redeem it from the destructive path it is on.
Christmas is the story of how God has broken into history to save His people.
This is what God is like, this is how He works.
This morning we will look at Luke 1 as we begin a series of messages on the gospel of Luke.
I hope it will be a blessing to you as we begin now at Christmas with the birth stories of Jesus, spend the winter looking at the life and teachings of Jesus and then conclude the study at Easter with the stories of His death and resurrection.
One of the things we will notice as we study Luke is that Luke often has two stories that are similar.
In Luke 1 we have two birth stories - that of John and of Jesus, we have two hymns - Zechariah’s song and Mary’s song.
In Luke 2 there are two blessings in the temple and so it goes throughout the book until the end in which we have two resurrection appearance stories.
The reason for this is that Luke is making an accurate account of what happened in the life of Jesus and the Old Testament principle that everything must be attested by the mouth of two or three witnesses reinforces the truths about Jesus that he is writing to Theophilus.
This morning I would like to invite you to look at the two birth stories found in Luke 1.
They are woven together throughout the text.
John and Jesus were connected in that they are the two primary figures connected with God breaking into this world to redeem it.
In verse 36, we find that the two mothers spend some time together and so we see how these two stories are closely linked.
There are amazing similarities between the two stories.
As we examine these two stories, we will discover a common element in them and that is that they talk about God for whom nothing is impossible.
The Stories of Zechariah and Mary
            Last weekend I shared with someone that I was preparing a series on Luke and he pointed out this concept that there are two stories often in Luke.
As I prepared Luke 1 and looked at this idea in this book, I was amazed at all the ways in which the two stories, the story of John’s birth and that of Jesus are so similar.
Please open your Bibles to Luke 1 and follow along as I point out the many similarities and a few differences.
John                                                                 Jesus
Vs. 6 - both of them were upright                  30 - Mary - You have found favor with God
Vs. 11 - angel visit - Gabriel                           26-28 - angel visit - Gabriel
Vs. 12 - fear                                                    29 - fear, greatly troubled
Vs. 13 - Do not be afraid.
30 - Do not be afraid.
Vs. 13 - A son to be born                                31 - a son to be born
Vs. 13 - Give him the name…                        31 - give him the name…
14-17 - a description of his life                       32,33 - a description of his life.
18 - “How can this be?”                                  34 - “How will this be?”
19 - angel’s response.
35- angel’s response
      - judgement -unbelief - you will be silent      - explanation - this is how God will do it.
Vs. 20 - my words will come true                   37 - nothing is impossible with God.
67-79 - hymn                                                   46-55 - hymn
            - Praise to God                                                - praise to God
            - redeemed his people                                     - mindful his humble servant
            - a horn of salvation                                        - all generations will call me blessed  
            - in the house of David                                   - Mighty One has done great things
            - salvation from our enemies                           - mercy to those who fear him
            - remember his covenant                                 - scattered the proud
            - rescue us from enemies                                 - brought down rulers
            - serve Him in holiness                                    - lifted up the humble
            - you a prophet of the Most High                   - sent the rich away empty
            - prepare the way of the Lord                         - mercy to Abraham and descendants
            - knowledge of salvation through                  
            - tender mercy of God.
            - light shining on those in darkness
57 - she gave birth to a son                             2:7 - she gave birth to a son
59 - on the eighth day                                     2:21 - on the eighth day
62 - a sign to show God’s hand                      2:25-38 - a sign to show God’s hand
                                                                                    - angel announcement to the shep.
-Zechariah could speak                                   - Simeon and Anna
65 - neighbours willed with awe                     2:33 - parents marvelled
Vs. 7 - advanced in years and barren              27 - a young woman pledged to be married,
                                                                                    A virgin
Vs. 13 - name - John - the Lord is gracious    31 - name - Jesus - salvation
Means - Jehovah is a gracious giver                means - Jehovah is salvation
14-17- a joy and delight to you                      32, 33 - will be great
many will rejoice                                             - called the Son of the Most High
great in the sight of the Lord                          - throne of David
filled with the Holy Spirit                               - reign over Jacob
bring back many in Israel                                - kingdom will never end.
in the spirit of Elijah
turn the hearts of…
to make a people ready for the Lord
each reference to a different OT character - John to Elijah, Jesus to David.
20 - because you did not believe        38 - “I am the Lord’s servant.”
The God Of The Impossible
            I find this quite fascinating, but what is the point of it?
One thing it does is show how God was in the midst of both events bringing about his will.
Another is to demonstrate the unique way in which John came as fore-runner and Jesus as Messiah.
But I would like to focus on one lesson which is found in the midst of both of these birth stories and which teaches us something about what God is like and how He acts.
!! A. My Words Will Come True
            As Zechariah and Mary are told that they will have a son, both of them are amazed at this news.
Both of them realize immediately that according to all biological understanding, this cannot happen.
We don’t know how old Zechariah was.
The text says, “both were well along in years.”
I hate to admit it, but it is likely that he was about my age.
The Old Testament directions for priests was that they only served until they were 50 years old.
I do not think that a birth was impossible in the sense of Abraham and Sarah who were past child bearing years.
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