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This is Good News

11/27 – Standing in the Presence of God (Luke 1:5-25)


Introduction — Here Luke tells how God sent Gabriel to announce good news. Now it happened in the days of Herod that there is a certain priest named Zacharias. He has a wife named Elizabeth. They are both righteous in the sight of God.  Because it’s his appointed time, Zacharias serves in the temple.  Through an interesting selection process, he enters the temple of the Lord. People pray outside. Zacharias goes inside. That’s when an angel of the Lord appears to him. Zacharias is fearful. The angel tells him not to be afraid. He and his wife will have a son. They will name him John. This son will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will bring them joy and gladness. John will turn many back to the Lord. Zacharias voices his doubt. The angel speaks again. He says, “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.” Gabriel also announces that because Zacharias did not believe his words, Zacharias will be unable to speak until after John is born. The people outside begin to wonder what’s taking him so long. Zacharias finally exits. He cannot speak. He nods and beckons, but remains mute. Those around him know Zacharias has seen a vision in the temple. Indeed, Zacharias saw and spoke with one who stands in the presence of God.  How about us? How would we react? Would we see the heart of God? Would we trust the heart of God?


The messenger of God speaks the truth of God from the heart of God.


The Setting for God’s Presence (5-7)

But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.


Comments: Luke skillfully introduces the setting for this good news. He tells that Herod is king of Judea. He points to Zacharias and Elizabeth, righteous and steadfast people. Both are of priestly descent. They have no children because Elizabeth is barren. And now they are both old. They are advanced in years. There is no way they could have children. It’s interesting that Luke contrasts the mighty, puppet king of Rome with the seemingly insignificant couple. One might expect to see Messiah coming from a place of power. One might also expect to find Messiah’s herald coming from a place of power. That didn’t happen, though. God chose apparent weak and foolish ways to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:27). God chose to work through Zachariah and Elizabeth. God graciously chose this righteous couple to bear a son who would prepare the way for His Son, Jesus. Principles: God is present in current events. He works in and through the lives of powerful leaders and ordinary people. God is faithful to accomplish His purpose in His time. Gospel Connection: But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. ~ Galatians 4:4-7 Applications: Trust God. He is at work in our everyday lives. He can accomplish abundantly more than we dare to ask or think (Eph. 3:20). God is at work. God is present. Trust Him.


The Announcement of God’s Presence (8-17)

17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.


Comments: Through a remarkable set of circumstances, God announces His presence to Zacharias. This certain priest (out of an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 priests) is at the temple. He happens to be there for one of his twice-yearly times of service. He happens to be present for one of the twice-daily times of prayer. He happens to be chosen to enter the temple to represent his entire nation. As he is praying, an angel appears to Zacharias. The angel tells Zacharias that he and Elizabeth will have a son, John (the Lord is gracious), who will (1) bring joy; (2) be great in the sight of the Lord; (3) drink no wine or liquor; (4) be filled with the Holy Spirit; (5) turn many people in Israel back to the Lord their God; and (6) go before Messiah in the spirit and power of Elijah. This announcement is news of God’s mighty work through John to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Principles: God is present in seemingly random events. God is present in the smallest details. God presently at work to make ready a people prepared for Jesus. Gospel Connection: We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. ~ Colossians 1:28-29 Applications: Announce the good news of Jesus. Prepare the way. Serve as one who will make ready a people prepared for Jesus.


The Response to God’s Presence (18-25)

18 Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”


24 After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, 25 “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”


Comments: Zacharias responded to God’s presence with fear and doubt. He questioned God’s message. He failed to believe God’s messenger.  Therefore, God both justly and graciously gave Zacharias a sign: you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place. Elizabeth, on the other hand, responded to the good news of God’s presence with humble obedience. She recognized and rejoiced that God was at work in a mighty way. She thrilled for God’s compassionate love toward her. Elizabeth praised God. Elizabeth trusted God. Principles: God is present in our doubts and fears. God is present in our humble, careful obedience. God is present to bring good news to all people. God is present to show His love for all people. Gospel Connection:  But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14 Applications: Speak the truth of God from the heart of God. See the wonder of God’s good news in Christ. Marvel at God’s grace. Stand amazed at His presence.

Word Study for Luke 1:5-25

6 righteous (dikaios—upright; just; be put right; be right with)

7 barren (steira—sterile; infertile; incapable of bearing children)

8 order (taxis—order; sequence; good order; kind; class)

11 angel (angelos—messenger; servant of the Lord; envoy)

12 troubled (tarasso—stir up; cause great distress; agitated; disturbed; shaken)

14 joy (chara—joy; delight; rejoicing; reason for gladness)

14 gladness (great joy; exultation; prayer for rejoicing)

15 filled (pimplemi—completely filled; filled with a total involvement)

15 Holy (hagios—holy; dedicated; pure; sacred)

16 turn (epistrepho—turn about; return; change one’s beliefs; change one’s ways; turn around)

17 prepared (katskeuazo—make ready; build; construct; prepare the way)

19 stands (paristemi—stands beside; stands near; be in front of; be present)

19 bring good news (euangelizo—proclaim, tell the good news; preach the gospel)

20 believe (pisteuo—trust; put faith in)

25 disgrace (oneidos—reproach; curse; mock; blame; blaspheme)


Application for Luke 1:5-25

Let’s walk blamelessly before the Lord.

Let’s always do the right thing.

Let’s remember that the Lord hears our prayers.

Let’s trust the Lord even when He seems silent.

Let’s trust the Lord even when He seems overwhelming.

Let’s listen to the Lord when He speaks.

Let’s proclaim this good news to folks we know.

Let’s have a heart for the Lord.


Gospel Connections for Luke 1:5-25

Through important people like kings and Caesars, God was at work. Through faithful people simply doing their job, God was at work. Through people gathered to pray, God was at work. Through a certain priest and his wife, God was at work. God sent a messenger, Gabriel who stands in the presence of God, to bring good news to Zacharias. Gabriel spoke of God’s work to give Zacharias and Elizabeth a son, John, who would bring them joy and would prepare the way for Messiah. God was at work to send His Son, Jesus, who would reign as King of kings.


Thoughts and Quotes for Luke 1:5-25

If we must “feel” God’s presence before we believe he is with us, we again reduce God to our ability to grasp him, making him an idol instead of acknowledging him as God. ~ Craig S. Keener


We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground. ~ Brennan Manning


What makes a man's 80 year-old Irish uncle skip like a little boy? "Me Father is very fond of me!” ~ John Ortberg Jr.


God did not love you because of your background, your intelligence, your good looks, your prayers, your ministry, your commitment, your faith, or your good life. God loves you…because He loves you. Let that lead you to worship.

~ Colin S. Smith


Our chaotic, confused world has no greater need than to hear the message of good news—the gospel of Jesus Christ. ~ Billy Graham


Only the gospel can truly save you. The gospel doesn't make good people good; it makes dead people alive. That's the difference between the gospel of Jesus Christ and every other world religion. All the others exhort their followers to save themselves by being good, by conforming their lives to whatever their worshiped deity is. But the gospel is God's acceptance of us based on what Christ has done, not on what we can do. ~ Tullian Tchividjian


Because the bad news is worse than you think it is, the good news is better than you think it is. ~ Craig Williams



A pastor phoned the home of some recent church visitors. A voice answered with a whispered "Hello."
Pastor: "Who is this?"
Whisper: "Jimmy."
Pastor: "How old are you, 
Whisper: "Four."
"Jimmy, may I please speak to 
your mom?"
"She's busy."
"Then may I speak to your dad?"
"He's busy."
"Are there any other adults at 
your home?"
"The police."
"Then let me speak to one of the 
police officers."
"They're busy."
"Who else is there?"
"Well, put one of the firemen on 
the phone."
"They're busy."
"Jimmy, what are they all busy 
"They're looking for me."

Just like Jimmy, a lot of people are hiding. Not only from parents and police, but from God. And there is nothing funny about hiding from the One who loves us most and the One we need the most.
--Leith Anderson, Winning the Values War in a Changing Culture (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1994) 101-102




"Good News" or euaggelion. Why not "Great News"? Why not "Stupendous News"? Why not "Unbelievable News"? The Bible does not speak at the top of its lungs. Biblical writers could have used a superlative (e.g. Federal Express' "Extremely Urgent") but deliberately chose an understatement. This culture expects us to speak at the top of our lungs, to scream to be heard. God appears to us, not with clanging cymbals and advertising symbols, not with trumpet fanfares and timpani furor, but in a still, small voice.

~ retrieved from on November 25, 2016