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Paul J. Bucknell
Purpose of Luke 1:76-80
I love manger scenes, especially at night, where just enough light shines on the newborn babe, surrounded by farm animals, Joseph and Mary, and shepherds.
The manger scene records a time many prophecies and truths converge at one point in time. These images are so powerful. I searched for images of Christmas cards and what did I find? Many colorful scenes. Only one had no pictures words, but the words were art themselves. The scriptures are filled with such imagery to increase our comprehension of the grand yet tiny historical scene situated in the Middle East nation of Israel. Christmas celebrates the truths surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.
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76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us,79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel (Luke 1:76-80).
Luke 1:76-80 serves as an introduction of Christ’s birth and mission given to John the Baptist’s parents where we first catch a glimpse of how that Light, a symbol of hope and truth, enters the world and successfully combats the forms of darkness.
Starter question => What light image has most intrigued you in the past? Why?
Who does the child refer to in verse 1:76?
Who is doing the talking? (Look at previous verses as needed.)
What does this whole special circumstances created for (77)?
What added understanding does the word ‘tender’ add to the phrase “tender mercy of our God” (78)?
Describe the different phases of the sunrise (just before to just afterwards). What sunrise is being spoken of in verse 78? How do you know?
List the ways the Sunrise in its various stages might characterize His’ life and ministry (78)?
Verse 78 says the Sunrise “shall visit us” which depicts Christ’s coming. List five special events surrounding Christmas, Jesus’ first coming.
Describe what happens after the sun rises (79)? How does this describe different aspects of Christ’s life and ministry?
What kind of darkness does the “shadow of death” describe
(79)? Where did you experience your greatest experience of darkness?
How does light and darkness relate to each other (79)?
Read Isaiah 9:1-2. How does Isaiah 9:2 differ or agree with Luke 1:79?
Why is darkness often linked to fear?
Would you agree that God’s work in our lives can be described by this picture of light shining into darkness? Explain.
Do you allow God to enter and shine in every part of your life? Or do you have some closed rooms or closets of your life where you are afraid what will happen if you fully swing the doors open to your troubled hearts? Explain.
How does the rising sun to the highest relate to missions and God’s purpose to shine in every culture/nation around the world?
Open your heart to God’s daily reminders of light by responding to Him and His hope. Though darkness can seem overwhelming, His power of light and hope are greater. Hope begins with Christ because forgiveness and salvation is alone found in Jesus, leading to genuine joy, love and peace. Let His light, His presence, shine in you. As the sun rises, may the light shine more brilliantly upon us that it might shine to those in darkness so that they can see.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mat 5:14-16).