Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ which was written by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the entire first chapter of the book of Luke and the first twenty verses of the second chapter. “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightiest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed” (Luke 1:1-4). MANY HAVE TAKEN IN HAND TO SET FORTH IN ORDER A DECLARATION OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US! AS THEY DELIVERED THEM UNTO US, WHICH FROM THE BEGINNING WERE EYEWITNESSES, AND MINISTERS OF THE WORD! IT SEEMED GOOD TO ME ALSO, HAVING HAD PERFECT UNDERSTANDING ALL THINGS FROM THE VERY FIRST! TO WRITE UNTO THEE IN ORDER! THAT THOU MIGHTEST KNOW THE CERTAINTY OF THOSE THINGS, WHEREIN THOU HAST BEEN INSTRUCTED! BELIEVED! HEARD! INSRUCTED! EYEWITNESSES! MINISTERS OF THE WORD! ”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear…” (Hebrews 11:1-3). “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
“Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we have made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount. We have a more sure word of prophesy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:15-21). “That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-3).
As you come to the gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke you will find that this narrative was one, which—much like the gospel narrative written by John Mark—was not written based on personal encounters with Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. Upon careful review and studying of the opening words found in the first chapter of this gospel you will find and discover that the beloved physician Luke sought to set forth a clear treatise concerning the events surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and to present this treatise unto an individual by the name of Theophilus. In the opening verses of this particular passage of Scripture we find and discover how many had taken it upon themselves, and had taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which were most surely believed among them. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the words which are found in the opening verses of this gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke, for not only does Luke set forth to write and present a powerful gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, but Luke also seeks to set forth a powerful witness and testimony of those things which were most surely believed among them. Undoubtedly Luke had heard countless narratives, countless stories, countless accounts, and countless examples of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ from those who walked with, those who talked with, and those who followed Him during those three and a half years of public ministry. You cannot read the opening words of this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that Luke was one who had undoubtedly heard countless stories and accounts concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ from those who had actually walked with and followed Him. In fact, the question I can’t help but ask myself when reading these words is how many interviews Luke conducted in order for him to be able to finally be at the place where He would be able to write this treatise concerning the life and ministry concerning Jesus the Christ.
EYEWITNESSES OF CHRIST! INTERVIEWS CONCERNING CHRIST! LISTENING TO THE STORIES OF CHRIST! ACCOUNTS OF EXPERIENCES WITH CHRIST! This concept of “interviews concerning Christ” is actually something that is quite unique and remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that in order for Luke to put together and write such a narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ he would have needed to speak with countless individuals who had indeed walked with and followed Jesus the Christ. In order for the beloved physician Luke to be able to write this gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ he would have needed to conduct countless interviews with those who had heard the words Jesus spoke, and those who witnessed the works which Jesus wrought in the midst of the earth. We know from the New Testament book of Acts that Luke was a Gentile, and that he was one who would be converted as a result of the apostolic ministry of the apostle Paul. It is in the New Testament book of Acts we find and discover how Luke would be a Gentile convert during the days of the apostles and during the days of the early Church, and it would be this disciple and this convert unto Jesus the Christ who would ultimately—under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit—seek to write and set forth a powerful declaration concerning those things which were believed concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t help but wonder how many interviews Luke conducted with those who had witnessed and beheld the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ, and how many different stories He had indeed and had in fact heard. How many of the original apostles would Luke have spoken with concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ in order to be able to present a clear and present picture concerning His life and ministry in the midst of the earth? We know that there is at least one apostle Luke would have spoken with—namely, the apostle Paul, however, the apostle Paul was not one of the original disciples of Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul would experience Jesus the Christ on the way to Damascus, and the apostle Paul would receive from Jesus the Christ the gospel which he preached unto both Jews and Gentiles after spending time in the desert with Jesus, however, the apostle Paul did not walk with Jesus as the apostle John did, as the apostle Peter did, as the apostle Matthew did, and as the other apostles. Moreover, the apostle Paul did not experience Jesus the Christ as perhaps others did who were alive and present during those days. In order to more clearly present this concept of eyewitnesses concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ, and concerning that which men and women beheld during the days He walked upon the earth, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the opening verses of the fifteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian congregation:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:1-9).
Please do not miss the words which are found in this particular narrative concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, for within these nine verses is a powerful witness and testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ after He was crucified for our sins, and after He was buried in the earth for three days. There is within these nine verses a powerful statement and declaration concerning all those who were eyewitnesses concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ—not as though they had actually witnessed and beheld the stone which was rolled away and removed from the entrance of the tomb, nor even witnessed and beheld Jesus emerge from the grave, but those who would witness and experience the resurrected Jesus the Christ. Although there was no man alive during those days who actually witnessed and beheld Jesus as He emerged from the tomb triumphant and victorious over death, hell and the grave, there were upwards of at least five hundred men and women who beheld the resurrected Jesus the Christ, and who would actually look upon and speak with this resurrected Jesus the Christ. We know within this particular set of verses there were two specific apostles who witnessed and beheld the resurrected Jesus the Christ—namely, the apostles James and Peter. We also know within these verses that the twelve disciples and apostles also witnessed the resurrected Jesus the Christ after He had been raised from death to life on the third day. Additionally, we know that there were upwards of five hundred men and women who would witness and experience the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and who would perhaps walk and talk with Him during those forty days after He had emerged from the grave and after He had been raised from death to life. The apostle Paul writes concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, and how there were a great many individuals who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus the Christ—this despite the fact that they had not actually seen the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul knew and recognized that there were countless individuals who had witnessed and beheld the resurrected Jesus the Christ after He had been raised from death to life on the third day, and after He had showed Himself alive over a period of forty days. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first chapter of a second treatise Luke would write—this second treatise which was not about the physical person and body of Jesus the Christ, but rather about the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which was His church. Consider if you will the following words which open this narrative, as well as the words which were found concerning the choosing of one who would take the place of Judas as one of the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he though the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:1-11).
”And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:15-26).
WHICH HAVE COMPANED WITH US ALL THE TIME THAT THE LORD JESUS WENT IN AND OUT AMONG US! BEGINNING FROM THE BAPTISM OF JOHN, UNTO TAT SAME DAY THAT HE WAS TAKEN UP FROM US! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for there is this powerful concept of eyewitnesses—this witness of those who were eyewitnesses of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. In fact, when the apostle Peter spoke unto the one-hundred and twenty who were gathered together in the upper room on the day of Pentecost he spoke of and mentioned one who had walked with and among them from the time of the baptism of John until the time Jesus the Christ ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. That one who would take the seat and place of Judas among the apostles would indeed be one who had walked with and fellowshipped among them during those three and a half years that they might be numbered among the eleven apostles who remained alive and well within the earth after the death of Judas, and after the ascension of Jesus the Christ. It is this concept of being an eyewitness of the life and ministry—as well as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ—that was so crucial and critical to the choosing of that one who would serve among the eleven apostles as they carried out and continued the work which Jesus the Christ had engaged in for three and a half years. This concept of eyewitnesses is something which must needs be carefully understood when seeking to understand the first treatise which was written by the beloved physician Luke, for this treatise was written with and from the vantage point of those who had been eyewitnesses of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and those who had walked with, those who had fellowship with, and those who talked with Him. This first treatise which the beloved physician Luke would write as one that was entirely and altogether centered upon the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and one that would seek to set forth a powerful declaration concerning the events which took place during those days.
There is not a doubt in my mind that when the beloved physician Luke set out to write this particular gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ he did not speak with countless individuals, and did not conduct countless one on one interviews with those who actually walked and talked with Jesus the Christ. We know that the beloved physician Luke was a traveling companion of the apostle Paul, however—as was already mentioned—the apostle Paul was not one of the original disciples of the Lord Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul would not be converted until after the day of Pentecost, and after the choosing of the seven deacons of the early church, and after the martyrdom of Stephen, and after the great persecution would break out against the church in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul would experience and he would encounter the risen, the exalted and the glorified Jesus the Christ on the road to Damascus, however, the apostle Paul was not, nor had he been an eyewitness of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. The gospel the apostle Paul preached he received from no man, but rather he received it directly from the Lord Jesus the Christ through revelation given unto him. The gospel which the apostle Paul preached unto and among men and women during those days would come directly from the Lord Jesus the Christ, as the Lord Jesus the Christ would speak and reveal unto Him things concerning Himself which the apostle Paul would teach and preach among the Jews and among the Gentiles. What I find so absolutely astounding when reading the words found in the opening verses of the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke is that the entire purpose of this gospel was to set in order a precise and clear presentation of the events surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that there seems to be this underlying theme and concept of belief that is found and outlined within these opening verses as Luke clearly emphasized the purpose of this epistle was to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us. It is quite clear and quite obvious when reading these words the entire purpose and function of the gospel narrative written by Luke was to recount and recapture the events surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ—events which were at the very heart, the very core, and the very foundation of their faith, their trust, their hope, and their confidence.
The more you read the words found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that Luke had clearly been in communication with those who were eyewitnesses of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ—perhaps some of the apostles apart from the apostle Paul, as well as some of those who like Matthias were among the disciples from the time of the baptism of John until the time of the ascension of the Lord Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but get the strong sense when reading the opening verses of the first chapter of this gospel narrative that Luke sought to bring his readers and his audience face to face with the unbelievable and powerful truth concerning the events which made up the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ—events which would not only begin with His baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, but also events surrounding His birth. It’s interesting and worth noting that of the four New Testament gospel authors there were only two of them who actually set forth to present details surrounding the birth of the Lord Jesus the Christ. The gospel narrative which was written by John Mark would from the very beginning present Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God, and would begin with the public ministry of John the Baptist who was the forerunner of the Messiah who would prepare the way and make ready a people for the manifestation and appearance of the Messiah. Even the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John would not begin with the birth of Jesus the Christ, but would instead begin in an unusual place—namely, with the emphatic declaration that the Word was in the beginning, that the Word was in the beginning with God, and the Word was God. In the opening verses of the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find this apostle of Christ writing concerning the Word how He became flesh and dwelt among us, and how we beheld the grace and the truth that was found within Him. The apostle John would not begin his gospel narrative with any mention of the birth of Jesus the Christ, and it would only be the apostle Matthew and the beloved physician Luke that would present details surrounding the birth of Jesus the Christ, which would come as a direct fulfillment of that which was prophesied by the ancient Hebrew prophets—Isaiah who would prophesy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, and Micah of Moresheth who would prophesy the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem within the land of Judah.
As I sit here thinking about and considering the words which are found in the opening chapters of the New Testament gospel which was written by the beloved physician Luke I can’t help but be drawn into and captivated by the fact that Luke not only set out to write a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, but he would also seek to begin with the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that not only would Luke write concerning the birth of the Lord Jesus the Christ, but he would begin even further than the birth of the Lord Jesus, and would write concerning the birth of John the Baptist. If you read the words which are found in the opening chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will find that he doesn’t even begin his gospel narrative with Christ, but begins the gospel with a powerful narrative and account of the birth of the forerunner and messenger who would go before the face of Jesus the Christ in the midst of the earth. Beginning to read with and from the fifth verse you will find a tremendous narrative written by the beloved physician Luke concerning the birth of John the Baptist—and not only the birth of John the Baptist, but also of the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist by the angel Gabriel unto Zacharias as he ministered before and unto the LORD in the midst of the Temple. It is truly something intriguing to read the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke and to not only see how he would begin the account before Christ and His birth, but would begin with the proclamation of a birth that would completely and utterly alter the course of history. In all reality there were two distinct births which were spoken of and foretold during those days—the birth of Jesus the Christ, and the birth of John the Baptist. When the beloved physician Luke opened his treatise and discourse concerning the narrative surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ he would begin with two angelic proclamations that would completely and utterly alter the course of human history, and would set in motion events that would not only impact those times, but would impact the days and times which would come thereafter. The beloved physician Luke chose to begin his gospel narrative—not with the ministry of John the Baptist, nor with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, nor with the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, nor with Jesus’ emergence from the wilderness, and His subsequent return to Galilee where He would begin to call men to repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Luke instead chose to begin his gospel narrative with two distinct and two powerful angelic visitations and manifestations which would take place at least six months apart from each other.
Beginning to read with and from the fifth verse of this gospel narrative you will find Luke writing concerning the days of Herod the king of Judaea, and how there was a certain priest named Zachariahs, or the course of Abia, and concerning his wife who was of the daughters of Aaron whose name was Elizabeth. Concerning Zacharias and Elisabeth Luke would write how they were both righteos before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and were blameless. What makes the narrative surrounding these two individuals so incredibly unique and powerful is that despite the fact and although they were both righteous before God and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, they were without child because Elisabeth was barren. BLAMELESS YET BARREN! Perhaps one of the most powerful truths surrounding Zacharias and Elisabeth was the fact that although they were both righteous in the sight of the Lord, and although they both walked in and kept all the commandments of the Lord blameless, they would have no child because Elisabeth was barren. It is truly something worth noting and speaking about concerning Elisabeth being blameless before the Lord, and how despite the fact that she was blameless she would be barren. This is something worth noting and pointing out, for it demonstrates the tremendous truth and reality that it is possible for us to be blameless in the sight of the Lord, it is possible for us to be righteous in the eyes of the LORD, and yet to be barren within this life. It is possible to be righteous in the sight of the Lord, and to be blameless in the eyes of the LORD, and yet be barren within this life. Elisabeth was of the daughters of Aaron, she was righteous in the sight of the Lord, and she kept and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and yet she was without child. A similar reality was found in the account of Hannah whose story is presented unto us in the Old Testament book of First Samuel. It is in the first chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel we find and discover Hannah who was one of two wives of a certain man named Elkanah. Scripture records and recounts how Elkanah had two wives—the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other was Peninnah. The scriptural narrative goes on to write how Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. The account concerning this family would go on to describe how Elkanah would give unto Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and daughters portions, but unto Hannah he would give a worth portion, for he loved Hannah. Please don’t miss the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for although Hannah was loved by her husband Elkanah, and although Hannah was given a worthy portion, she was barren because the Lord had shut up her womb.
If and as you read the entire narrative found in Scripture you will find that there were various accounts of those women who were barren and who were unable to conceive and bring forth children—that was until the word of the Lord would be spoken in the midst of the earth, and the Lord would open their womb that they might conceive. THE WORD SPOKEN, THE WOMB OPENED! A WORD SPOKEN, A WOMB OPENED! If you begin reading with and from the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find that Sarai the wife of Abram was stricken with years and barren without any child, as well as Rebekah, and even Rachel. Within three generations of the patriarchs of the nation and people of Israel there were barren wombs—barren wombs which the Lord would shut up until the appointed time when He would open those wombs and allow these women to conceive and bring forth children. The Lord would speak unto Abram concerning that which He would do within the earth, and that which He would do through the life and person of Abraham—namely, how He would bless all nations through him. What makes this concept of barren wombs being unable to conceive and being opened by the Lord is when you continue reading in the Old Testament book of Genesis and discover how the wife of Abraham’s son Isaac—Rebekah—was herself barren and unable to bear children until the Lord would speak the word that would open the womb and cause life to be conceived inside it. A similar reality would be manifested within the life of Rachel who was one of two wives of Jacob, and one of four women who would ultimately bring forth children for him in the midst of the earth. Scripture records how Leah Rachel’s sister was able to conceive and bring forth children, and how both handmaids of these two sisters also conceived and brought forth children unto Jacob. It wouldn’t be until later on when Rachel would conceive and bring forth Joseph—and this after the Lord would open her womb, thus allowing her to conceive.
As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering this narrative of barren wombs being opened I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that directly linked and connected to barren wombs being opened and being able to conceive and bring forth a child is the open mouth of the Lord. Please understand that what I mean by “the open mouth of the Lord” is simply the word of the Lord being released in the midst of the earth, which would accomplish that which He had set in motion and purpose for it to accomplish. In order to help illustrate this even more, I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs not only look at and consider the words which the prophet Isaiah would prophesy and proclaim during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, but also the various words which were spoken and released in the midst of the earth concerning these barren wombs which would be opened in the midst of the earth. There is a particular portion of Scripture found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah that wonderfully and powerfully describes the awesome presence and work of the word of the Lord, and how the word of the Lord can indeed and can in fact be sent into the midst of the earth to accomplish that which the living and eternal God set in motion for it. If we are to truly understand this concept of the spoken word of the Lord, and how the spoken word of the Lord causes barren wombs to be opened. It is truly something powerful to think about and consider the fact that not whenever we find a barren womb which the Lord of hosts opens, it does not come without a word spoken from the Lord concerning that womb. If and as you read the words found in each of these individual narratives you will find a wonderful and powerful truth centering upon the ability of the Lord to release and speak a word which will not only cause a barren womb to be opened, but will also allow that barren womb to conceive and bring forth a child. This is perhaps one of the greatest principles and truths surrounding barren wombs within Scripture, for while it is true you find specific narratives in Scripture concerning those whose wombs were barren, you will also find a powerful principle of the word of the Lord being spoken and released in the midst of the earth which causes those wombs to be opened. WE SPEAK TO WOMBS—BE OPENED! WE SPEAKS TO BARREN WOMBS—BE OPENED! WE SPEAK TO DEAD BODIES—COME ALIVE! WE SPEAK TO IMPOSSIBLITY—BE POSSIBLE! It is with this in mind I invite you to first and foremost consider the words found in the prophetic book of Isaiah, and then to consider the individual narratives concerning those barren wombs which were found in Scripture:
“Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:6-11).
“Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child” (Genesis 11:27-30).
“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:1-6).
“…And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also. And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? IS any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh” (Genesis 18:5-15).
“And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac: and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:19-23).
“And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:31-32).
“And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: and she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son” (Genesis 30:22).
“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: but he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink now wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death” (Judges 13:1-7).
WHEN BARREN WOMBS ARE OPENED AND VIRGINS CONCEIVE! It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture, for more often than not barren wombs—when they are opened—will be accompanied by a prophetic word released and sent from the Lord. Although this is not and was not the case in every barren womb within Scripture—for there was no prophetic word that was released unto Hannah after she prayed in the house of the Lord at Shiloh, nor any prophetic word released unto Rachel when the Lord opened her womb—there are certain an specific instances and examples when the word of the Lord would be released into the earth before the child would come forth. FIRST COMES THE WORD, THEN COMES THE CHILD! FIRST COMES THE DECLARATION, THEN COMES THE CONCEPTION! It would be the Lord of hosts who would emphatically declare and proclaim unto Abraham that Sarah his wife would conceive and bring forth a son, and it would be the Lord who would send one of His holy angels and messengers unto the wife of Manoah of the tribe of Dan concerning her barren womb being opened, and her conceiving and bringing forth a son. We know from Scripture how the LORD opened up the barren womb of Sarah, the barren womb of Rebekah, the barren womb of Rachel, the barren womb of the wife of Manoah, and the barren womb of Hannah. Within the Old Testament there were five different wombs which had previously been closed, and which had previously been unable to conceive and bear children, and there would be certain prophetic words which would be released during those respective days concerning certain of these wombs. BUILDING A HOUSE, BUILDING A NATION! ESTABLISHING A PROPHET IN THE MIDST OF THE LAND! DELIVERING THE PEOPLE OF GOD OUT OF THE HANDS OF THEIR ENEMIES! It’s actually something truly astonishing and remarkable to read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture, for when the Lord of hosts opened barren wombs, He did so in the case of Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel to build a house, a nation and a people in the midst of the earth. In the case of Hannah, the Lord would open her womb that he might raise up a faithful prophet in the midst of His people who would proclaim the word the Lord would send him to deliver. IN the case of the wife of Manoah, the Lord of hosts would open a barren womb that one might come forth who would deliver the people of God out of the hands of their enemies and adversaries. It Is necessary that we pay close and careful attention to this, for in the days of the Old Covenant the LORD would cause barren wombs to be open to establish a nation, to raise up a prophetic voice, and to deliver the people of God out of the hands of their enemies and adversaries.
When you come to the words found in the opening chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke you will find the LORD not only opening up the barren womb of Elisabeth and causing it to conceive, but opening it up with and for a very specific reason and purpose. You cannot read the opening chapters of the gospel narrative written by Luke and not encounter and come face to face with the powerful reality of the word being released in the midst of the earth concerning the birth of John the Baptist—and not only concerning the birth of John the Baptist, but also concerning the birth of Jesus the Christ. Within the opening chapters of this gospel narrative—not only do we find and see the Lord opening up the barren womb of one who was advanced and well-stricken in years, but we also find the Lord causing a virgin to conceive and bring forth the Messiah. THE MESSIAH AND HIS MESSENGER! THE MESSIAH AND THE MESSENGER! When the beloved physician Luke sought to present us with the narrative concerning the Messiah he chose to begin with the barren womb of Elisabeth in order that he might bring his readers and his audience face to face with the awesome and powerful work the LORD would do in the earth to bring forth His divine purposes and plans. It would be during those days the Lord of hosts would send the angel Gabriel into the earth with two very important, and two very specific assignments. The angel Gabriel would first be sent unto Zacharias while he was serving in the Temple of the Lord according to his duty, his responsibility, and his lot, and it would be this same angel Gabriel who would also appear unto Mary and proclaim unto her that she too would conceive and bring forth a child. The angel Gabriel would wonderfully and powerfully declare unto Zacharias that the Lord would open up the barren womb of that one who was well advanced in years, and that same angel would appear and speak unto Mary powerfully proclaiming unto her how the Holy Ghost would overshadow her, and how the most High would come upon her, thus causing her to conceive within her the holy and eternal Son of God. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the truly wonderful and remarkable truth concerning barren wombs and virgin wombs conceiving by the power of the Holy Spirit that the purposes of the living God might be accomplished, fulfilled and manifested in the midst of the earth. Consider if you will the following encounters which Zacharias would have with the angel Gabriel beside the altar in the Temple of the Lord, as well as the encounter Mary would have with the angel Gabriel six months after Elisabeth her cousin conceived in her old age:
“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear now, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zachariahs said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men” (Luke 1:5-25).
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:26-28).
Within the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke we find the angel Gabriel sent to two different locations at two different times, as the angel Gabriel who stood in the presence of the Lord would first be sent unto the city of Jerusalem and unto the Temple of the Lord, and would also be sent unto Mary in the town of Nazareth of Galilee. Two different individuals, two different angelic visitations, two different prophetic destinies and missions within the earth, and yet the same angelic messenger sent by the living and eternal God, and the same God. In the days of the Old Testament and covenant we find the Lord opening up barren wombs that He might build a house, a people and a nation, and would open up the wombs of Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel to bring about His purposes in establishing this house in the midst of the earth. It would be through Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and his two wives together with their handmaids who would help build the house of Israel within the earth—a house that would ultimately become seventy souls which would go down into the land of Egypt during the days of famine in the land, as well as during the days of the prosperity of Joseph. We dare not miss and lose sight of this, for when the LORD wanted to bring forth that one who would begin to deliver the house and people of Israel out of the hands of their enemies and adversaries—the Philistines—the LORD would open up the barren womb of the wife of Manoah. During the days of the corrupt priesthood at the house of the LORD in Shiloh we find the LORD opening up the barren womb of Hannah that she might conceive and bring forth one of the greatest prophets to ever walk upon the earth and among the people of God. It is during the days of the Old Covenant we find a powerful records of the LORD opening up barren wombs that He might fulfill and accomplish His plans and His purposes within the earth—whether it was building a house and nation, raising up a judge, or raising up a prophetic voice.
If there is one thing I find absolutely remarkable and astounding when reading the opening chapters of the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke it’s how the Lord would open up the barren womb of Elisabeth that she might conceive and bring forth a prophetic voice within the earth—and not only a prophetic voice within the earth, but that prophetic voice which would go before the Messiah to prepare the way for Him. The Lord would open up the womb of Elisabeth that she might conceive and bring forth a son who would be raised up of the Lord to call men back to repentance, and to bring them to the place of repentance for the remission of sins through baptism. It would be John the Baptist who would be raised up of the LORD to be the first prophetic voice which would speak in the midst of the earth after four-hundred years of silence. It would be John the Baptist who would not only be that voice that would break the silence after four hundred years without any open vision and revelation from the LORD, but who would also make ready and prepare a people in the earth for the arrival and emergence of the Messiah. How absolutely remarkable and astounding it is to think about and consider how the LORD would open up the barren womb of Elisabeth that she might conceive and bring forth that prophetic voice and messenger which would go before the face of the LORD in the earth, and the Lord would cause the virgin Mary to conceive and bring forth that Child who would be for and unto the salvation of all mankind. It would be the Lord who would cause Mary to conceive within her womb as a direct result of the Holy Spirit overshadowing her, and it would be a direct result of this that would cause her to bring forth a child whose name would be JESUS—and not only a child whose name would be called JESUS, but one whose Father would be God Himself. The angel Gabriel would speak unto Mary and declare unto her that the Holy Ghost would overshadow her, and that the power of the most High God would come upon her that she might conceive that child which would be the eternal Son of the most High God—that One whom the Lord would give the throne of his father David, and that one who would reign over the house of Jacob for ever. Moreover, the angel Gabriel would also declare unto Mary that of the kingdom of this Son of the most High there would be no end—a declaration which would bear a strong resemblance to the words which the prophet Isaiah spoke centuries earlier in the land of Judah and in the city of Jerusalem.
I find it absolutely remarkable and incredible how the Holy Spirit would overshadow Mary and the virgin womb within her that she might conceive the life of Christ within her. It is truly something powerful and wonderful to think about the fact that the Holy Spirit would come upon Mary that she might conceive the life of the eternal Son of God within her womb, and that at the appointed time that life of the Messiah would be brought forth from her womb. Pause and think about the fact that it would be through the power, the person and the presence of the Holy Spirit she would conceive the life of the Messiah within her womb, and that the life of the Messiah would grow within her until the appointed time of her bringing forth that which she conceived. It would be the angel Gabriel who would speak directly unto Mary and emphatically proclaim unto her that she would conceive and would bring forth a son, and that the child which would be born of her would bear the name JESUS. Stop for a moment and think about what it would have been like for Mary to hear the name JESUS for the first time. Pause for a moment and think about the awe and wonder that must have gripped her soul as for the very first time in human history the name of the Messiah would be spoken in the hearing of one within the earth. We know from the gospel narrative written and recorded by the apostle Matthew that it was also revealed unto Joseph how the child which was growing inside of Mary was conceived according to the Holy Spirit, and that the child’s name was to be JESUS. I can’t help but find myself in absolute and complete awe when I think about what it must have been like for Mary to hear directly from the mouth of the angel Gabriel the name of the Messiah—the name of the Messiah whom the Law and the prophets spoke about and foretold.
I sit here today and I can’t help but think about the fact that there is a great need within our hearts and lives to reclaim the awesome wonder and beauty of the name of Jesus. We know the apostle Paul wrote concerning Jesus the Christ that He was given a name that is above all other names, and that at the name of Jesus every knee would bow, and every tongue would confess that He is Lord, however, I can’t help but come face to face with the truly wonderful and spectacular truth that when the angel Gabriel appeared unto Mary and announced the name of the Messiah it would be the first time in human history the name of JESUS would ever be mentioned. There in Nazareth of Galilee the angel Gabriel would speak forth and proclaim the name of JESUS in the hearing of Mary and within the earth, and I find myself in awe of what it must have been like to hear the name JESUS for the very first time. Stop and think about what it would have been like as Mary would not only hear the name of her firstborn son, but also as she would hear the name of the Son of the most High God. It would be there in Nazareth Mary would hear the name of the eternal Son of God, and it would be there Mary would hear the name of that One who would cause blind eyes to see, the name of that One who would cause deaf ears to hear, the name of that one who would raise the dead, the name of that One who would cause lepers to be cleansed, and the name of that One who would cleanse lepers. I am absolutely in awe of what it must have been like for Mary to hear the name of JESUS, as the name of Jesus would be shouted and cried out in the streets of Jerusalem, as well as in Galilee, Capernaum, Jericho, and other areas during those three and a half years. What’s more, is think about the fact that for thirty years men and women would call unto Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter, and yet there would come a point in time when the name of JESUS would be more than simply the name of the son of Joseph the carpenter, but would be associated with the Son of David. Eventually and ultimately the name JESUS would become synonymous with cries for mercy, cries for help, cries for grace, and cries for deliverance and salvation. Think about the fact that when the angel Gabriel spoke unto Mary and mentioned the name JESUS for the first time, that name would essentially be in the shadows for thirty years until the time came for the public manifestation in the midst of the earth during those times.
RECLAIMING THE WONDER OF THE NAME OF JESUS! RECLAIMING THE AWE OF THE NAME OF JESUS! RECLAIMING THE BEAUTY OF THE NAME OF JESUS! Stop for a moment and pretend you had never heard the name of JESUS before—whether associated with a cry for help, or whether it was being associated with blasphemies and curses. Think about what it would have been like to have never known the name of JESUS, and to hear for the very first the name of JESUS. Imagine what it would have been like for Mary to hear the name of JESUS for the very first time as the angel Gabriel appeared unto her—and not only as she heard the name of JESUS, but also as Joseph would hear the name of JESUS when the angel Gabriel appeared unto him by a dream in the night. It is truly something remarkable and powerful to think about the fact that Mary must have been completely and utterly overjoyed and in awe when she would not only hear that which would be conceived within her, but would also hear the name of the One who would be conceived within her. In all reality, I would dare say that there is a great need within our hearts and within our souls to reclaim and recapture the beauty and the wonder of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I find myself thinking about and wondering if it is possible to be brought into the same sense of awe, the same sense of wonder, the same sense of splendor that was found within the heart and soul of Mary as she would hear for the very first time the name of JESUS. It would be there in Nazareth of Galilee Mary would hear the proclamation of the name of Jesus, and it would be when the angel Gabriel came unto her the name of JESUS would be heard in the earth for the very first time. Just think about that for a moment, for throughout the centuries leading up to this moment there would be prophets who would prophesy concerning the Messiah, and yet the name of the Messiah would never be known. The ancient Hebrew prophets such as Isaiah, Micah, Amos, and the like would prophesy concerning the coming Messiah, and yet the name would be hidden and concealed until the appointed time of its release in the midst of the earth.
As I bring this writing to a close I find myself seeking to draw you into the awesome wonder, the awesome splendor, the awesome beauty surrounding the name of JESUS, and how there is a great need within our hearts and our souls to recapture and reclaim the beauty surrounding the name of Jesus. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest needs within my own heart and life, and one of the greatest needs within many of our churches is for the beauty of the name of Jesus to reclaim its beauty and awe within our hearts and lives. Pause for a moment and think about what it would be like if you had never heard the name of JESUS before, and as you heard the name for the very first time. Stop and think about what it would be like to hear the name of JESUS being spoken and mentioned within your heart and life for the very first time, and what the name of JESUS would mean to you and for you. It’s worth noting that when Mary heard the name of JESUS as spoken by the angel Gabriel she would not know, nor would she understand exactly how powerful that name would be, as when you read the gospel narratives you will find that countless men and women would shout and cry out the name of Jesus when they were looking for grace to help in time of need. The name of JESUS was feared by devils and unclean spirits alike, while it was hated and despised by the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, and the religious spirit alike. The name of JESUS would be a name that was altogether familiar to those in Nazareth and was a stumblingblock of offense before and unto them, and yet for countless others the name JESUS would mean healing, would mean cleansing, would mean deliverance, would mean wholeness, would mean salvation, and would mean grace to help in time of need. The name of JESUS would be that name everyone during those days knew, and countless men and women would use in their time of need and their time of desperation. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that we have great need to reclaim the awesome wonder and beauty surrounding the name of JESUS, and that we would once more discover the tremendous power that is found in the name of Jesus the Christ. There is a great and powerful need within our hearts and lives to reclaim the awesome wonder and splendor of the LORD Jesus the Christ, and that we would once more be brought face to face with the awesome power surrounding that name which would be the name above all other names—the name which demons and unclean spirits feared, and the name at which every knee would bow, and the name at which every tongue would confess Him as Lord.