What is one way this video encourages or expands your understanding of the Gospel of Luke?
What is one way that Jesus’ Kingdom is unlike the kingdoms of this world?
Consider your community. What needs to be turned upside-down to look more like God’s Kingdom?
Luke investigated the eye witnesses of Jesus’ life to compose his Gospel account. The story begins in the hills of Jerusalem, where Israel’s ancient prophets said that God himself would come one day to establish his Kingdom on Earth. First, we meet a priest named Zacharias who sees a vision of an angel announcing that he and his wife will have a son. This is amazing because Zacharias and his wife are old and have never been able to have children. With this detail, Luke is setting up a parallel to compare their story with Abraham and Sarah, the great ancestors of Israel. They too were old and childless until God miraculously gave them a son, Isaac, through whom the whole story of Israel began.
Zacharias’ miraculous encounter tells us that God is about to do something significant to restart Israel’s story. But how will he do it? Luke tells us that the angel also visits a young girl named Mary to announce even more shocking news: Mary will give birth to the Messiah, God in the flesh! Her son will bring down rulers from their thrones and exalt the poor and humble. Through Mary’s womb, God himself is turning everything upside-down to establish his Kingdom and way of life over all the Earth.
Read: Luke 1:5-38
Compare the experiences of Zacharias and Elizabeth with that of Abraham and Sarah. How do both couples struggle to trust God’s promises? How do they express trust? See Luke 1:5-25 and Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 16:1-4, Genesis 17:15-22, Genesis 18:9-15, and Genesis 21:1-7.
How do Mary and Zacharias respond to the angel’s shocking news? Note the differences in their follow-up questions to the angel. Zacharias wants to know how he can be sure that it will happen, while Mary wants to know how it will happen. One is doubtful, and one is curious. What is your response to the announcement of God’s Kingdom?
Compare Mary’s words (Luke 1:46-55) to Hannah’s words (1 Samuel 2:1-10). What do you notice? What is one specific quality of God’s Kingdom that you find described in these poetic verses? What would it practically look like to see more of that quality in your life and community?
Take some time to pray for the humble nature of God’s Kingdom to shape your life and community. Be honest about your doubts, ask for renewed trust, and express your curiosity.
Luke 1:5-25Genesis 21:1-8Isaiah 40:3-5Luke 1:26-27Luke 1:28-33Luke 1:34-38Luke 1:46-55Luke 2:1-7Luke 2:8-20
Jon: The Gospel of Luke. Luke investigated many of the earliest eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus, and then composed this account.
Tim: And the story begins up in the hills of Jerusalem, the place where Israel’s ancient prophets said that God himself would come one day to establish his Kingdom over all the earth.
Jon: In this city is the temple run by the priests. And one of them, named Zechariah, was working in the temple when he had a vision that freaks him out. An angel appears and says that he and his wife will have a son. What’s this all about?1
The Promised Savior of Israel [00:35-02:24]
Tim: Well, Zechariah and his wife, we’re told, are very old. They’ve never been able to have children. And Luke’s setting up a parallel here with Abraham and Sarah, the great ancestors of Israel, because they too were very old and could never have kids.
Jon: Yet God gave them a son, Isaac, which is how the whole story of Israel began.2
Tim: And so Luke’s implying here that God’s about to do something that significant for this people once again.
Jon: The angel tells Zechariah to name the son John.3
Tim: And then he says that this son’s going to fulfill a promise of Israel’s ancient prophets—that somebody would come one day to prepare Israel to meet their God when he arrived to rule in Jerusalem.4
Jon: Because right now Jerusalem is ruled by the Romans.
Tim: Yeah. Specifically, it’s governed by a man named Herod, who’s a puppet king under the Roman empire. And so the Jewish people wanted nothing more than to be free and govern themselves in their own land.
Jon: So this is shocking news. Everything’s going to change. God’s on his way. But how’s he going to arrive?
Tim: Well, to find out, Luke takes us out of Jerusalem and then up into a small town in the hills of an out-of-the-way region called Galilee. There we find a young woman named Mariam, or we call her Mary. She was engaged to be married.5
Jon: And then an angel appears to Mary, saying that she’s going to have a son.
Tim: She’s supposed to name him Jesus, which in Hebrew means, “The LORD saves.” And he will be a king like David who will rule over God’s people forever.6
Jon: And then Mary asks, “Okay, well, how is this possible because I’m a virgin?”7
Tim: And she’s told that the same Holy Spirit that brought life and light out of darkness in Genesis chapter 1 is going to generate life inside her womb. God is about to bind himself to humanity through the conception and the birth of the Messiah.
The Upside-Down Kingdom [02:25-04:16]
Jon: And so Mary goes from some backwoods, no-name girl to the future mother of the king?
Tim: Exactly. In fact, she sings a song about how this reversal of her own social status points to a greater upheaval to come. Through her son, God is going to bring down rulers from their thrones and exalt the poor and the humble. He’s going to turn the whole world order upside-down.8
Jon: So when Mary was really pregnant, she and her fiance, Joseph, had to go down to Bethlehem.9
Tim: Yeah. There was a decree across the Roman empire about new taxes, and so everybody had to get registered in the town of their family line.
Jon: There were so many visitors in Bethlehem. They can’t find a guest room.
Tim: And so the only place they can find is a spot where animals sleep.10
Jon: Now nearby, were some shepherds with their flocks. And an angel appears, which of course freaks them out. But they’re told to celebrate because tonight in Bethlehem, a savior has been born.11
Tim: Yeah. They’re told to go and find this baby and they’ll know it’s the Messiah because he’ll be wrapped up and laying in a grimy feeding trough.
Jon: Yeah, which is pretty gross.
Tim: Totally. And then these shepherds, who aren’t very clean themselves, they go and find the newborn Jesus in this really dingy place, and their minds are blown. They go home wondering, “What on earth is about to happen?”
Jon: And this is all really strange. I mean, if God’s really coming to save the world, this isn’t how you wouldn’t expect him to arrive: born in an animal shelter to a teenage girl, celebrated by no-name shepherds.
Tim: Exactly. I mean, everything is backwards in Luke’s story, and that’s the point. He is showing how God’s Kingdom was first revealed in these dirty places, among the poor, because Jesus is here to bring salvation by turning our world order upside-down.