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Sermon Resources

Prepared for Christ


Main Scriptures
Book: Luke
Scripture References



6 P’S that prepare us to make much of Christ.

1: Piety (1:5-6)

2: Pain (1:7)

3: Prayer (1:8-14)

4: Proclamation (1:15-16)

5: Parental Instruction (17)

6: Providential Intervention (18-25)


At this time of year people are coming and going, so I tend to break away from our normal preaching series and look at something relating to Christ and Christmas. This year I thought I would work my way through the opening chapters of Luke’s gospel as they detail the first coming of Christ. Open your bibles to Luke 1

A Biblical historical faith (1:1-4)

Read 1:1-4

Let me just say a brief word about this prologue.

·      It’s addressed to “most excellent Theophilus” which is a title used of Roman governors. So this is a man of some social standing.

·      1:4 It is written so that you might have certainty about the things you have been taught. So this man might have been an early Gentile convert. He might even have been Luke’s patron who had supported his research into these matters and commissioned him to write a comprehensive account of the life of Christ. As a patron and a prominent person he would have ensured that this report was carefully copied and distributed to others who would benefit from it.

·      Luke can affirm that Theophilus had been taught the gospel, that there were many eye-witnesses who were giving orally testimony to what had transpired and there were event a number of written accounts.

·      To these Luke adds his carefully researched and divinely inspired account with the purpose that Theophilus and subsequent believers might have certainty with regard to the biblical and historical facts concerning Christ.

Conclusion: Our faith is not based on the ectatic visions of one man like the Muslims or the Mormons. It’s not based on philosophical ideas of various mystics whose  religious system has no tangible connection to reality and history. Our faith is based on the person and work of Christ, upon real historical events with reliable eye-witness testimony, both oral and written. Our faith has an objective, historical, verifiable foundation which has been laid in and through the incarnation and preserved in inspired Scripture.

We must keep growing and grounding our faith.  Even as we celebrate Christmas, let us make an effort to really understand what happened there and what it means. Let us not be content for Christmas to be some esoteric, festive season of goodwill – let us ground our understanding of Christ’s coming in the biblical, historical facts, let us make it our ambition to grow in our understanding and confidence of these facts.

Are you prepared?

I’ve called this sermon “prepared for Christ?”

 Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,


·      Christ didn’t come at some random, unspecified time, but God sent him forth into the world at just the right time, according to God’s perfect timing or as Galatians puts it when the fullness of time had come.

·      In other words the stage had been prepared and everything was in place, ready for the unfolding of the greatest drama the world has ever known.

·      The opening chapters of Luke give us insight into how God prepared His people for Christ. We will see that while most of the world were oblivious to this momentous event, some people had been specifically prepared by God and were ready to receive Christ and make much of Him. Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna are the characters we are introduced to in the first 2 chapters of Luke, each of whom God prepared so that they could make much of Christ in their own way.

·      Which I think should cause each of us to ask, “Am I ready to make much of Christ?” The historical circumstances have obviously changed, but I think the factors which prepared people to make much of Christ back then, are equally relevant to us today. Hence I’ve framed this sermon as a question, “Are your prepared to make much of Christ?” and as we work our way through the narrative I will highlight the factors that God used to prepare people for Christ.

6’S P’S that prepare us to make much of Christ.

1: Piety (1:5-6)

2: Pain (1:7)

3: Prayer (1:8-14)

4: Proclamation (1:15-16)

5: Parental Instruction (17)

6: Providential Intervention (18-25)


1: pIETY (1:5-6)

You can see how carefully Luke grounds his account in actual reality. He tells us when and where and who was involved.


·      This was during the days of Herod 1, also called “Herod the Great” who ruled over the Jews on behalf of the Romans.

·      He had been ruling since 37 BC, but his power and position was in constant threat largely from his own sons.


·      And we have a certain priest called Zechariah, one of approximately 20k who were from the descendants of Aaron and tasked to serve at the temple.

·      Twice a year the priests would travel up to Jerusalem and serve for one week by assisting with the sacrifices and other aspects of temple worship.

·      He is not only a priest, but His wife is also from the line of Aaron and vs 6 says that they were both righteous before God.

Righteousness rare

·      We are told that their righteousness was genuine, they were righteous before God, not merely in the eyes of people.

·      If we consider Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, and his treatment at the hands of the Sadducees and the High Priest, we can know that much of the priesthood had been corrupted.

·      If we consider his firm rebuke of the Pharisees, we can know that much of what passed off as righteousness was religion approved by man rather than God.

·      So to find a couple that were both God-fearing would have been rare indeed.

Practical righteousness (7)

·      Vs 7 expands a little on what is meant by the statement that they are righteous. They were walking blamelessely in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. They were seeking to obey both the spirit and intent of the Law.

·      The Law was never intended to produce a self-righteousness like it did amongst the Pharisees, but a genuine fear of God, an understanding of His holiness and mercy, a longing to please him.

·      That is what is meant here, not that they were righteous and blameless in the judicial sense, but that they were genuinely seeking to honour God with their lives and to do what was pleasing to Him.

·      Galatians 3 tells us that God gave the Law in order to lead us to Christ and God’s Law had certainly had that effect in the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

·      We see Mary and Joseph are obedient god-fearers, we see Simeon in chapter 2 is described as righteous and devout. John the Baptist would be a Nazarine, a man set apart unto the Lord and down in 1:17 we will see that his ministry was to prepare people for the Lord which required them to turn from sin to God, from disobedience to the wisdom of the just.

·      True piety prepares us to have much of Christ and make much of Christ.

This principle hasn’t changed. Jn 14:21 “He who has my commandments and obeys them, He is the one who loves me and he who loves me will be loved by my father and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Knowing God more fully and making much of Christ starts with simple, practical obedience. Zecharaiah wasn’t saved by his righteousness and neither are we.  But through obedience we express our longing for Christ and we put His character on display for others to see. How can we best celebrate Christ this Christmas? By committing ourselves to obey Him in every area of our lives.

2: PAIN (1:7)

Vs 7 introduces a contrast = but they barren.

·      Barrenness is a great trial. – vs 25 talks about the reproach which they felt.

·      In biblical times it was made that much more difficult because the culture regarded bareness as a kind of punishment from God. One or both of them must have done something wrong for God to have closed their womb. So they would have experienced some level of ostracism, reproach or shame.

·      In their case they were old, beyond child-rearing age so all hope of vindication was now gone.

·      Again this element of suffering in preparation for the messiah is not unique to them.

o  Mary and Joseph would have been ostracised by the community when they found out she was pregnant out of wedlock.

o  Anna in chapter 2 had been a widow most of her life.

o  In fact the whole nation was suffering under the oppression of the Romans at this time.

o  God uses pain to get our attention and point us to Christ.

·      Elizabeth’s barrenness, her great trial becomes the very means God uses to point people to Christ. This was a miraculous conception which would point to an even more miraculous conception.

Again, this principle is equally applicable today. Peter can encourage us in 1 Pet 1 to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many different kinds because such trials serve to refine and strengthen our faith. They cause us to depend more on God, to cling to Christ more fiercely. At the time we might not see exactly how, but with time we will because God doesn’t afflict us for no reason, but to help us make much of Christ.

How can we make much of Christ this Christmas? For one thing we can stop complaining and start thanking God for the privilege of participating in Christ’s suffering. We can look for opportunities to use our trials to point people to Christ.

Piety, Pain

3: Prayer (1:8-14)

The priests would draw lots in order to assign the various duties. Burning incense was considered the highest honour because it would take you as close to the holy of holies as you could go as a priest. It was the symbolic act of offering the prayers of the people to God. As the priest put the incense on the altar, smoke would rise up symbolizing the prayers of His people and at that time the priest would offer thanks to God on behalf of the nation and pray for peace upon Israel.

It was such an honour that you were only permitted to do this once in your lifetime. So this was a once in a life time honour for Zechariah, a truly momentus occasion. Being a devout and righteous man, it is safe to assume that this was the longing of his own heart to be able to approach God on behalf of the people and lay their praises and petitions before the throne.

As he is praying the angel of the Lord appears and says to him, “Your prayers have been heard.” Does he mean your prayers for a son, or your prayers for peace upon Israel? The angels goes on to speak not only of Elizabeth having a son, but how this son will bring blessing to the nation by preparing them for the messiah. I think both of Zechariah’s prayers were heard and answered in what the Angel announced.

·      Again, this principle of sincere prayer is not unique to Zecharaiah. Anna and chapter 2, we are told, was fasting and praying night and day at the temple.

·      Prayer doesn’t make God more aware of what we need, it makes us more aware of what we need, and ultimately what we need is more of Christ. Prayer heightens our sense of need, our expectation, sometimes even our desperation so that we know God is our only hope and when He intervenes, we pay attention, we rejoice, we marvel, we worship, we make much of Christ.

Prayerlessness is Christlessness.!

4: Proclamation (1:15-16)

Vs 15-16 explain that God will use John the Baptist to prepare people for the messiah.

GREATNESS OF THE MAN, greatest among men – not because of his great holiness, great miracles, but great task – pointing people to Christ.

Numbers 6 allowed a person take a special vow called a Nazarite vow whereby for a period of time they wouldn’t abstain from alchoholic drink and from cutting their hair as a sign of consecration to God. It appears that John the Baptist was to be a kind of Nazarite for life, specially consecrated to God.

He would minister in the Spirit and power of Elijah. In other words he would be a Spirit empowered prophet. When we think of Elijah we tend to think of the miracles, but that wasn’t the major component of his ministry, it was his bold proclamation of the truth, even confronting king Ahab, “I am not the trouble maker of Israel, but you are.” We don’t know of any miracles that accompanied John the Baptists ministry, but that is not what he became known for. He was known as a bold preacher of repentance. That is what God would use to prepare his people for Christ.

After 400 years of prophetic silence, suddenly God would begin to speak again and speak powerfully through this last of Old Testament prophets.

This picks up on the same theme as the prologue, that our faith has objective, divinely inspired content. Our faith is strengthened and directed as we know and understand God’s Word. Our faith is not primarily mystical, or experiential, it is propositional. It is not primarily about having an experience of God, but about responding wholeheartedly to what God has revealed about Himself.

So the Christian is always going to be a learner, in fact that is what the word disciple means, to be a disciple of Christ means to learn from him and follow His example. God prepares us to receive and make much of Christ through His Word.

That is also why the gospel must be boldly proclaimed, that is how God draws men to Christ in saving faith, the simple proclamation of His Word. If we want to make much of Christ this Christmas and next year – we must make time to hear His Word and obey it. Piety, pain, prayer, proclamation.

5: Parental Instruction (17)

Vs 17 speaks about repentance and obedience which we have already spoken about and being ready, which we have already spoken about, but there is one element which we have not yet spoken about, “turning the hearts of the fathers to their children.”

The order is interesting. We might have expected, turning the hearts of the children to their fathers, but that would have basically been obedience. This is, “turning the hearts of the fathers to their children.” So here we have a picture of fathers taking up their role and responsibility as the spiritual leaders of the home.

This is how God intended it to be. After giving the Law in Deut 5, fathers are specifically commanded to teach the Law diligently to their children and grandchildren, to talk about it when they walk by the way and when the lie and when the rise up and to live the Law out before their children. This is how God intended children to learn about him, from parents instruction, parental example.

The last book of the O.T. Malachi closes with instruction to husbands to be faithful to their wives and re-affirms what God is seeking as the fruit of marriage – not merely offspring, but godly offspring.

Again, I think this principle applies equally to today. Paul could affirm (2 Tim 3:15) that it is the Scriptures that made Timothy wise for salvation, that prepared his heart for the gospel, but the Scriptures taught by his godly mother and grandmother.


Godlessness leads to a breakdown of the family – revival leads to a restoration of the family. Being ready for Christ and making much of Christ begins with making much of Christ at home, in the family.

Time and again we see in the Scriptures the terrible ramifications of fathers who fail to practice their faith at home…

Dads, you have been given the primary responsibility to prepare your families to make much of Christ. If you family is going nowhere spiritually, and your children seem distracted from Christ…look no further than yourself to find the problem. Have you been distracted and half-hearted in leading your family spiritually? Use this holiday season to refocus yourself and your family on Christ!

6: providential Intervention (18-25)

In this closing paragraph we basically see Zechariah, despite all his godliness, struggling to believe. How shall I know this? Basically asking for a sign, a confirmation, something that would tell him he is not just going crazy.

If you can put yourself into this context. This was a momentous occasion for Zechariah, a once in a life-time privilege. As Zechariah is alone in the Temple near the very presence of God, an angel appears to him. There are only a handful of people throughout biblical history who were visited by an angel – Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samson’s parents, Elijah. These were people uniquely used by God. Then he is told that he will miraculously bear a son, after he is beyond child-bearing age and this this son was going to serve as the forerunner to the messiah. This is just unbelievable, so you can understand his difficulty here.

Outside the people were waiting for him. This was an important part of the days worship ceremony as the priest would go in bearing the prayers of the people and then come out and proclaim the blessings of God upon the people, the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6, “The Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” 

On no other day could that blessing have been more true than this day and yet after keeping the people waiting, Zechariah comes out before them and is unable to even speak the blessing over them. His silence says more than His words. Immediately the people know that something supernatural has occurred, something completely out of the ordinary.

The text is not exactly clear why Elizabeth keeps herself hidden for 5 months, but what is clear is that her miraculous conception becomes objective confirmation of Mary’s even more miraculous conception. When Mary askes the angel in vs 34, how can this be for I am a virgin? The angel points her to Elizabeth’s own miraculous conception, and as Mary meets Elizabeth and sees that she is indeed pregnant, she knows that she too has been visited by God according to His Word.

New revelation from God was often accompanied by signs and wonders to affirm that God was in fact speaking through the individual concerned. It was the case with Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, Jesus and the Apostles. Miracles are to some extent revelatory, they point us to God’s approved spokesman. That, incidently, is why we believe that signs and wonders died out with the first century Apostles, as New Testament Revelation was complete and the Canon was closed. God still performs miracles today, but not the kind that authenticates one particular messenger. When Zechariah could miraculously speak again after the birth of John 1:66 people said, “What then will this child be?” The miraculous events surrounding his birth prepared God’s people to listen to him and once God had got the attention of the nation through John the Baptist and all eyes were on him – He pointed all 10- fingers at Jesus and said – I am nothing, He is the one, I must decrease, He must increase, I baptise with water, He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.



So although the historical situation has changed and I don’t think every barren couple should expect a miraculous conception and every sick person a miraculous healing, and every prayer to be answered by an angelic messenger- yet God does still providentially intervenes in our lives. We mustn’t fail to see and affirm what Elizabeth could affirm in 1:25, “Look at what the Lord has done for me.” God does still do great things for us and as people look at our lives and see what is clearly God’s work, we must, like Elizabeth and Zechariah, use the opportunity to point people to Christ, to make much of Christ


6’S P’S that prepare us to make much of Christ.

1: Piety (1:5-6) – we need to walk in obedience if we want more of Christ.

2: Pain (1:7) – we need to allow our suffering to point us to Christ.

3: Prayer (1:8-14) – we need to petition God for more of Christ

4: Proclamation (1:15-16) – we need to saturate our lives with God’s word

5: Parental Instruction (17) – we need to put Christ at the centre of our families

6: Providential Intervention (18-25) – when people see the work of God in our lives, we need to use the opportunity to point them to Christ.