A PRIEST AND HIS WIFE
Luke 1:1 ¶ Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Luke 1:5 ¶ There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
It is an amazing thing to see that one like Luke, who was given “perfect understanding of all things from the very first” of the revelation of the Lord Jesus’ earthly ministry, begins his gospel with an account of a barren marriage! But the Apostle John also focuses on marriage to begin his gospel!
For in the first chapter of John, he speaks of the Word, who was God, becoming flesh and dwelling among us. And that, as we know was by the virgin birth, which Luke also covers in his first chapter. That is the marriage of the eternal Son of God to human flesh! John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
And Matthew traces the lineage of Christ from Abraham to Mary and Joseph in his first chapter. So all these three begin their gospels with a birth produced by marriage.
And in his second chapter John reports that Christ manifested forth his glory (2:14), when he came at a marriage in Cana of Galilee!
In chapter three of John this same theme is most obvious as the Lord speaks to a master of Israel concerning the observing and entering into the spiritual kingdom of God being only by a spiritual birth! John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Then in chapter four, John relates to us the account of the woman at the well. And unto her the Lord plainly reveals himself to be Messiah! John 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
But he does not do so without bringing up her marriages! John 4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
The gospels set forth the coming together of the last Adam with his Bride, the church! For all marriages are to depict the great mystery of Christ and his church! Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
To be born again is to be spiritually ‘married’ and joined to Christ in a oneness as the wife is joined to the husband. 1 Corinthians 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
But to return to our passage in Luke’s first chapter, let us see that there he speaks of two women. One was old and well stricken in years. And she was barren. The other was a young virgin who knew not a man. Therefore neither, of themselves, could bring forth a birth.
The first was Elizabeth, the wife of the priest Zacharias. Being old and barren and married to a priest who had been struck dumb due to his unbelief, she represents Israel under the law. And just as Elizabeth had a man, so the Old Testament church had it’s man, Moses! John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
And the priest Zachariah was struck dumb and unable to speak, as Israel’s priests had failed at the teaching of the people. Malachi 2:7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. 9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
The second woman mentioned was Mary, who knew not a man, as she represents the New Testament church. For it’s spiritual births are accomplished by the Holy Spirit alone. There is no ‘works’ justification, lest any ‘man’ should boast. Spiritual birth is only by grace through faith, in order that God alone may be glorified! As it was the Holy Spirit who brought forth Mary’s conception, so it is the Holy Spirit alone who brings forth the birthing of souls into the spiritual kingdom of God!
John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
This presentation of a priest (Zacharias), and his wife (Elizabeth), are to turn our minds to the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, with the church as his Bride! Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
For Christ must come to fulfill the law. Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. He was the only man who could keep it in all its aspects and requirements!
There was nothing wrong with God’s law. Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. It’s weakness was found in the fallen humanity of those to whom it was given! Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Therefore we see that Elizabeth, representing the old church under the law, even with the answered prayers of her priest husband, (see verse 13 in our text), could only produce the greatest man born of women! For the scriptures relate to us that the Holy Spirit did not fill her until she had been with child for six months. For that is what the angel Gabriel instructed Zacharias. Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
Of course there had to have been some work of God in order to reverse Elizabeths’ barrenness! She understood this to have been a mercy of God. Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
But the moment the Holy Spirit birthed the first believer into life in the Spirit, after the Lord Jesus had purchased our redemption, John’s birth was superseded, even by the least born again believer! Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us (that is, ‘apart from us’), should not be made perfect. That “better thing” was the Spirit’s application of Christ’s accomplished redemption.
Let us take note of a phrase that occurs three times in this passage. It is the term, “the Highest.” Speaking of the Lord Jesus, Gabriel states in Luke 1:32, He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
Then referring to the forming of the eternal Son within the womb of the virgin, we read in Luke 1:35, And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
Then when Zacharias finally comes to say what God said, (see Luke 1:63), his mouth is opened and he states in Luke 1:76, And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
Then in the next chapter the multitude of the heavenly hosts states in Luke 2:14, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And we later read of those who have the characteristics of God stamped upon them by the new birth in Luke 6:35, But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
The virgin heart, not justified by any works of man, shall, by the power of the Highest, have brought forth within it the Son of the Highest, (for that is their only hope of being glorified! Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:), with understanding of the prophet of the Highest, and be involved among the angels in God’s Highest glory! Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
The Incarnation of the Eternal Son of God, coupled with the regeneration of the elect believers, brings in God’s highest glory! The Lord God did not save you, sinner, in order to keep you out of Hell! He saved you in order to keep you in, and unto Himself, exalting you into oneness with the glory of Christ!
John 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. Verse nine is often quoted at funerals and applied to “heaven.” But verse ten clearly instructs us that God is not speaking of “pie in the sky, by and by!” But he is speaking of the wonders of regenerating grace, only coming to be realized after experiencing of the new birth! 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Pastor Gene Breed
May 5, 2017