Archive for the ‘angel’ tag
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:26–38.
- Because of Christ, God favored Mary and chose her to be the mother of the Savior. Because of Christ, God favors us and chooses us to be His children.
- Law: Like Mary, I deserve nothing from God because of my sinfulness.
- Gospel: God gives me unmerited grace and favor because of His Son.
- Why is it absolutely essential that we maintain that Jesus was conceived without a human father while Mary was a virgin?
- Gabriel says to Mary in Luke 1:37 that “nothing will be impossible with God.” How could this verse be misused by Christians today? How should we apply it?
- Is it appropriate to call Mary “the mother of God”?
- What is the traditional date for observation of the annunciation (Gabriel’s announcement to Mary of Jesus’ conception)? Does your congregation celebrate the annunciation?
- The angel Gabriel came to both Zechariah and Mary with prophecies of extraordinary births. Compare Zechariah’s response in Luke 1:18 with Mary’s responses in 1:34, 38. How are they different? What could account for the differences between their responses? What can we learn from this comparison?
- In Luke 1:28, Mary is called “favored one,” and in 1:30, she is told that she has “found favor with God.” What does favor mean? See Genesis 6:5–8 for the first instance of the word favor in the Bible. What caused God to favor Noah? What caused God to favor Mary? How does this help us see that we are justified by grace?
- Joshua was the successor of Moses and led the children of Israel triumphantly into the Promised Land. His name means “the Lord helps” or “the Lord saves.” In a way, Joshua was a savior of Israel. Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua. In Luke 1:31, Gabriel tells Mary that she will call her son Jesus. How does Jesus’ name reveal who He is? See Matthew 1:21. How does Matthew define what kind of Savior Jesus is?
- Read 2 Samuel 7:11b–16 and Isaiah 9:6–7. The first is a prophecy from the Lord given through the prophet Nathan to King David that there would come after him a King (Messiah or Christ) whose throne would endure foreHow does Luke emphasize that Jesus will fulfill the Jewish hope for the long-awaited Messiah?
How does he reveal that Jesus is not a mere earthly king but is actually God Himself?ver. The second is a prophecy from Isaiah concerning the Messiah. Compare these prophecies to Luke 1:27, 32–33, 35, and note similar phrases.
- The liturgy and confessions that we use in the Church help connect us historically to God’s people of all times. Much of our liturgy is derived from the Psalms, the prayer book of the Old Testament. The Sanctus is from Isaiah 6, the Aaronic Benediction is from Numbers 6, and more Old Testament examples could be given. Of course, New Testament phrases and songs also appear in the liturgy. We also confess our faith through the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, which declare what we believe about the God who created the world, redeemed us by the cross of Jesus, and sanctifies us through the Holy Spirit’s continuing work.
As we read the Old and New Testaments, we learn that they are truly part of the story of our lives as Christians. Christian doctrines are not just abstract statements disconnected from reality but are living descriptions of God’s gracious dealings with His people of all times. We see an example of this in Mary. Where do we find her in our creeds and liturgy? How does the Church properly remember Mary?
- In Luke 1:35, Gabriel says to Mary that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” Though Jesus is uniquely the Son of God, in what way can all Christians be called “holy” and “sons of God” through the work of the Holy Spirit? See 1 Corinthians 6:11; John 3:5; Galatians 3:26–27; and Romans 8:14–17.
- A literal translation of Luke 1:28 from the Greek would be “Rejoice, favored woman, the Lord is with you.” Gabriel indicates that the Lord’s favor toward and presence with Mary are cause for rejoicing. In what unique sense was the Lord with Mary? See Matthew 1:23. Where do we find Immanuel today?
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:5–25.
- God promised to send John to prepare sinners to receive the Savior. God calls us to repent through His Word and declares us righteous because of Jesus.
- Law: I sin when I doubt God’s Word and promises.
- Gospel: Because of Jesus, God forgives my doubts. The Holy Spirit works through God’s Word and Sacraments to give me faith to believe.
- Today we begin the season of Advent. The word advent means “a coming to” or “an arrival.” Today’s lesson tells of the promise that John the Baptist would come to prepare the way for Jesus’ own coming. In Advent, we focus on the advents (plural) of Jesus. Give three examples of advents of Jesus, and discuss how each one is important to our lives as Christians.
- Today’s lesson is set in and around the temple in Jerusalem. Though the inner workings of the temple, and the tabernacle before it, are unfamiliar to most of us, basic knowledge of them helps us understand many events and ideas in the New Testament. God’s presence dwelt in the temple, and priests offered sacrifices to Him there, as He had instructed them to do.
One of the rites of the temple was the burning of incense. Exodus 30:1–10 describes the institution of this rite. Zechariah was a priest, and he had been chosen to serve at the altar of incense, which was just outside the Most Holy Place (Luke 1:8–9). This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a high honor. While the priest offered incense, believers would offer prayers at the temple (Luke 1:10). What does incense symbolize? See Psalm 141:1–2. Why might God have instituted the use of incense for Old Testament worship?
- God spoke to Zechariah through the angel Gabriel, the messenger whom He had sent. Angels were often sent by God to be His messengers. Whom did Jesus later send out into the world as His messengers to speak on His behalf? Who are Jesus’ messengers to the world today? How can we tell whether someone is a true or false messenger of God?
- Luke 1:6 says that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” Why can this verse not mean that Zechariah and Elizabeth were saved by perfect obedience to the commandments? See Romans 3:23–24. What does it mean that they were “righteous before God”? What does it mean that they were “walking blamelessly” in God’s commandments and statutes?
- What Old Testament couple is brought to mind by the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth? See Genesis 17:15–19. What similarities do you see between the stories? Why is it important to read that the saints in the Bible sometimes fell into unbelief?
- Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament and was written around 430 BC. Read Malachi 4:5–6 and Luke 1:16–17. What key phrases in these verses indicate that Malachi’s prophecy was fulfilled in the person of John? What event does Malachi say will happen after Elijah comes?
- Read Luke 3:3. What was John’s basic message? According to Luke 1:16, what would be one outcome of John’s preaching? If Luke 1:16 refers to the repentance of some of the Jews, to whom might Luke 1:17 be referring?
- Luke 1:15 says that John “must not drink wine or strong drink.” This is one of the requirements for someone who takes a Nazirite vow. Read Numbers 6:1–3. What is the purpose of the Nazirite vow? What kind of tone does this set for John’s ministry? According to Psalm 104:15, what does wine symbolize? In Luke 7:33–34, Jesus contrasts His own ministry with John’s, saying that John drinks no wine but that He does. What could this difference in their ministries indicate?
- God made Zechariah mute because he did not believe the promise given through Gabriel. Zechariah would have known the story of Abraham and Sarah, as well as other similar stories of God opening closed wombs. He should have known better than to doubt God. Instead, he asked for a sign to prove that the prophecy would come true. God muted Zechariah in order to chastise him for his unbelief but also, ironically, to provide the sign for which he had asked. When misfortunes occur in our lives, should we interpret them as God’s punishments? Why or why not? What are the only signs of God’s love for which we should look? Read Mark 16:16 and Romans 8:28. What are some examples of signs that people today seek in order to confirm that God loves them?
- Luke 1:15 says that John would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” Read Luke 1:39–45. Who alone can give faith? What could these passages tell us about the possibility of unborn babies having faith? Can we be certain that God gives faith to infants who are baptized? What impression do these passages give to us concerning the value Elizabeth and Mary placed on their unborn babies?
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:26–38.
- God favored Mary because of Christ, choosing her to be the mother of the Savior. God favors me because of Christ, choosing me to be His child.
- Law: Like Mary, I deserve nothing from God because of my sinfulness. God grants me unmerited grace and favor because of His Son. God must punish sin.
- Gospel: In His mercy, God sends His Son to take my punishment upon Himself. Because of my sin, I was separated from God. Because of God’s grace and favor, the Lord is with me. On my own, I am sinful and not blessed. Christ blesses me with His presence, just as He did Mary and Elizabeth.
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:5–25.
- God in His mercy promised to send John to prepare sinful people for the coming of the Lord.
- Law: God in His Word calls us to repentance, declaring us righteous because of Jesus. Law/Gospel Points Zechariah and Elizabeth were ordinary people, sinful just as I am. I need to repent and return to the Lord.
- Gospel: I, like them, stand righteous before God in spite of my sin, being justified by Christ, the Righteous One. God forgives me for Jesus’ sake, drawing me to Him through His Word and Sacraments.
The text for this lesson is Daniel 3.
- Just as Jesus was with and saved the three men in the fiery furnace, so our Savior is with us and saves us in His Word and Sacraments, sustaining us when we suffer for His name.
- Law: In sin, I choose what makes the world, my flesh, and the devil happy and try to avoid the suffering or trouble that sometimes comes my way because of my faith in God.
- Gospel: He who once walked unharmed with the three faithful men in the fiery furnace was incinerated by fiery wrath for my sins to make me a citizen of heaven.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was the most powerful man in the world in his day (late seventh and early sixth centuries BC). It’s no surprise that such power went to his head, as this story illustrates (see also Daniel 4). When Nebuchadnezzar began his takeover of Jerusalem, he took the best and brightest of the citizens as POWs to Babylon. Among such captives were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When they risked punishment by sticking with kosher foods only, God rewarded their fidelity (Daniel 1). All four, though Israelites, rose to prominence in this Gentile court.
The text for this lesson is Acts 27:1–44.
- As Christ was with Paul and His companions, so He is with me, holding me up, keeping me with Him in the ship of the Church, and casting all my sins into the depths of the sea.
- Law: In sinful despair, I let the pains of the present overtake me and no longer believe in God or trust His redemption or love.
- Gospel: Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever, rides out the storms of life with me, granting me hope in my future redemption.
Arrested in Jerusalem on trumped-up charges (Acts 21:1–40) and jailed for more than two years in Caesarea (Acts 24:27), Paul is finally on his way to Rome, for he had appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11), the “supreme court” of the empire. As this story makes clear, sea travel in ancient times could be quite treacherous, especially as winter approached (Acts 27:9–12). After the shipwreck at Malta, where Paul and the crew wintered (Acts 28:11), the apostle finally arrived in Rome, where Acts ends with the account of Paul’s incessant preaching of the Gospel to the Jews and all who would lend him an ear.
The text for this lesson is Matthew 1:18–25.
- Just as the angel proclaimed to Joseph that Mary would bear an infant who is the Son of God, the Savior, so God proclaimed to us in His Word that this same Jesus is our Savior from sin and death.
- Law: “Seeing is believing,” or so we tell, or, rather, deceive ourselves. We live by sight, not faith in the divine Word. Worse yet, most often we see only what we want to see. We school our eyes to perceive reality as we desire it to be, not as it really is. In our own eyes, our own senses, we trust, not Christ.
- Gospel: God tells us what is real, what is true, what is trustworthy. He acts in a way perceptible not necessarily through the eyes, but through the ears—ears attuned to what God says. Believing is not seeing, but hearing, for “faith comes from hearing” (Romans 10:17) and is “the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is in Immanuel, God with us, cradled in a virgin womb.
The text for this lesson is Luke 1:26–38.
- In the womb of Mary, Jesus, the Son of God, became a man so that we sinful people might become adopted children of God and share in the inheritance of heaven.
- Law: I am sinful at birth, sinful from the time of my conception, and thus spiritually dead. We don’t grow into being sinners any more than we grow into being humans. From the second we are alive, we are also dead spiritually. We join David in his lament: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
- Gospel: God’s Son, Jesus, as born sinless in order to take my sin upon Himself and redeem me. The Son of God leaves no part of our lives unredeemed. He crosses every t and dots every i in the human experience. Even as a tiny fetus, a near-microscopic baby, God—Jesus—is our Savior. Holy from the time His mother conceived Him, He makes us holy from the womb to the tomb.