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Biblical References: Luke 1

These opening verses tell us much about the Gospel of Luke. We discover the sources Luke consulted, the purpose of his writing, and the individual to whom the book was addressed. Then, Luke records the events surrounding the birth of John and Jesus.

1. What is your “mental picture” of how Biblical inspiration works? How does Luke’s description (1:2-4) compare with that mental picture of yours?

2. As Luke describes his writing process, he does not specifically mention the Holy Spirit. In what way, then, do you suppose the Holy Spirit inspired Luke as he wrote? What might we learn about the process of Biblical inspiration based on this?

3. When Gabriel tells Zechariah that Elizabeth will have a son, Zechariah asks a question (“By what shall I know this” in Greek), prompted by disbelief. When Gabriel promised a son to Mary, she also asked a question (“How will this be”). Compare these two questions. In what way are they the same? How are they different?

4. Is Zechariah’s inability to speak until the baby is born a punishment or a promise?

5. What does becoming pregnant mean for Elizabeth? What does it mean for Mary?

6. In the Qur’an, Jesus is said to speak from the cradle. In Buddhist tradition, the Buddha also spoke immediately after his birth. In Luke, the baby Jesus does not speak. He is swaddled as babies typically were, circumcised on the 8th day, and described as being obedient to his parents when he was 12. In short, Jesus seems to be very human. Which is the greater struggle for us today: to think of Jesus as fully human, or to think of him as fully divine? What was the struggle for those that he grew up with?

7. What elements in the story of Jesus’ birth are especially significant for you?

8. What would you say is the most important lesson we should learn from the birth narratives of John and Jesus? In other words, what did Luke most want us to realize after reading this first chapter?

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