God was about to do ‘a new thing’ (Isaiah 43:19). It was centred on Christ, though John also played his part (Luke 1:31-33,16-17). There were obstacles - Zechariah and Elizabeth were ‘old’ (Luke 1:18), and Mary had ‘no man’ (Luke 1:34). What were these obstacles to God? - Nothing: ‘with God nothing will be impossible’ (Luke 1:37). How are we to respond to God’s ‘new thing’? - ‘let it be to me according to Your Word’ (Luke 1:38). How will God’s ‘new thing’ make progress among us? - Through the power of the Holy Spirit: ‘he will be filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 1:15), ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you...’ (Luke 1:34). ‘Holy Spirit, we welcome you... Move among us with holy fire... Let the breeze of your presence flow... Please accomplish in me today, some new work of loving grace, I pray; Unreservedly have Your way...’ (Mission Praise, 241).
Jesus ‘fulfilled all righteousness’ (Matthew 3:15). His circumcision and presentation to the Lord was ‘according to the law of Moses’ (Luke 2:21-24; Leviticus 12:1-8). Jesus’ obedience was always more than mere conformity to ‘the written code’. He was walking ‘in the Spirit’. He was filled with ‘the Spirit of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 3:3,6). His obedience came ‘from the heart’ and His ‘praise’ came ‘not from men but from God’ (Romans 6:17; 2:29). What joy there was for Simeon and Anna! This was ‘salvation’, ‘redemption’ (Luke 2:30,38). As you journey through life, don’t ‘lose Jesus’ (Luke 2:43-45). Keep close to Him! If you do ‘lose Him’, where will you find Him again? - ‘In the temple’ (Luke 2:46). Have you lost your way? Find your way back to ‘the sanctuary of God’ - and things will start to fall into place again (Psalm 73:16-17)!
John's message came from ‘God’ (Luke 3:2). He did not begin with love. He preached about sin and divine judgment, warning his hearers to ‘flee from the wrath to come’ (Luke 3:7). He called for ‘repentance’ (Luke 3:3,8). This was not what people wanted to hear. Before we can rejoice in the Good News concerning salvation, we must recognize our sin and our need of salvation. John prepared the way for Jesus. ‘All have sinned’, ‘The wages of sin is death’ - This is the ‘bad news; which prepares us to receive, with joyful thanksgiving, ‘the Good News’: ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). Like John, we are to point to Jesus, God’s ‘beloved Son’ : Before ‘Adam’ was, He is. Pray that the ‘Holy Spirit’ will bring people to Christ (Luke 3:22,38; Luke 8:58).
Jesus was ‘tempted by the devil’ (Luke 4:2). He was rejected by His enemies (Luke 4:28-29). When we look around us, we see nothing but temptations and rejection - What a negative way of looking at things! There is something more positive here - the presence of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1,14,18). Do not be afraid. There is no need to be discouraged. We need not be defeated. The temptations may be many. The opposition may be fierce. We can ‘pass through the midst of them’ (Luke 4:30): ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control’ (2 Timothy 1:7). Satan is persistent - They did not rest until they had crucified Him. Faced with such opposition, we - like Jesus - must walk in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:12,17-18).
There is such a difference between the ‘old’ legalism and the ‘new’ life in the Spirit (Luke 5:36-39; Romans 8:2-4). The question, asked in Luke 6:2, springs from the dead hardness of strict legalistic religion. Christ is Lord (Luke 6:5) - not the ‘Pharisees’. They try to control people's lives. With their kill-joy attitude, they only succeed in making everybody miserable - like themselves! The ‘old’ needs to be ‘crucified’, so that the ‘new’ can be born in us (Romans 6:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Some say, ‘I don't need to be born again’. Jesus disagrees (John 3:3). Disciples, Apostles (13): We learn everything from Jesus - nothing from the ‘Pharisees’! We are sent out by Christ for Christ - not by the Pharisees to spread Pharisaiam!
Hunger for God (Luke 6:21; Matthew 5:6): Laziness leads to superficial Christianity. Do not hunger and you will not be ‘filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). Do not seek and you will not find (Matthew 7:7). Seek the Lord with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). God has so much for us (1 Corinthians 2:12). Don't miss out (2 Corinthians 9:6).
The greatest gift that God gives - in answer to prayer - is the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). We are to ‘pray at all times in the Spirit’, relying completely on the Spirit to teach us to pray (Ephesians 6:18). Pray that you will be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 4:31). As you pray, let the Spirit be your Helper (Romans 8:26).
Do you want to confess Christ? - Here’s a great promise for you: ‘the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say’ (Luke 12:12).
Going Christ's way will not be easy (Luke 12;49-53): We must avoid the way of the ‘hypocrites’ who have no real knowledge of God (Luke 12:54-56), the legalists who know nothing of the Spirit of grace (Luke 12:57-59). Keep close to Christ: He will keep you - faithful and ready.