SUNDAY, December 11, 2022, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom



Luke 1:5-6:  There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest name Zacharias, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  They were both righteous in the sight of God.  Walking in all the commandments and judgments of the law blameless.


"Herod was king when the line of the kings of Judah had failed, according to the prophecy of Jacob (Gen. 49:10), and thus the coming of the Messiah." In 2022, the line of the kings of the earth have failed; let us look for Christ's second coming.


John was descended from both parents from the priestly line. 


Many are righteous, not in the sight of God, but only in appearance, in the sight of men.  Both Zacharias and Elizabeth are righteous before God.


1:7: They had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both now advanced in years. 8-10:  It came to pass, that while Zacharias executed the priest’s office before God… (vs 11) there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12-14: When Zacharias saw him, he was troubled and fear fell upon him.  But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name, John.  You shall have joy and gladness and many shall rejoice at his birth.  15: For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord. 


“The angel promises that John will be truly great, that is ‘great in the sight of the Lord’ (Luke 1:15).  There are many who are called great in the sight of men, but are not so in the sight of God.  Such are the hypocrites.  John was great in soul, unlike those easily offended ones who are little in soul.  No one who is great is offended.” (Theophylact).


15:17: 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 Spirit even from his mother’s womb.  Many of the children of Israel shall turn to the Lord their God, and he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous; to prepare for the Lord a people made ready. 


“John went before Jesus in the spirit of Elijah, meaning, just as grace was at work in Elijah, so too was grace at work in John.  Theophylact writes, “for Elijah is the forerunner of the second coming of Christ, while the spirit of Elijah in John was the forerunner of the first coming.  John went before Christ in the power of Elijah, for the advents of both Elijah and John have the same power, that they both lead together with the Holy Spirit to Christ.  In another sense, John went in the spirit and power of Elijah, in that John… rebuked and reproved as did Elijah.  John turned the disobedient Jews to the wisdom of the righteous.  He prepared for the Lord, that is, for Christ, a people made ready to receive Christ’s preaching.  Not all will believe, only those who have made themselves ready to welcome the Christ.” (Theophylact).


Isa. 40:3: The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”


Mat. 3:3: For this is he, that was spoken of by the prophet, Esaias, saying, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  


Matthew 17:10-13: His disciples asked him, saying, “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?”  Jesus answered, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.  I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done until him whatsoever they listed.  Likewise. shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  The disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist.


Even before John’s birth, he was honored with the rank of prophet.


Luke 1:26-30:  In the sixth month the angel, Gabriel, was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel came in unto her, and said, “Rejoice, you who are full of grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women.  When she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  The angels said to her, “Fear not, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”


The sixth month means the sixth month after John’s conception.  It was the law that husband and wife should be of the same tribe and the same lineage.  The immaculate conception broke the curse of the woman.  Mary is here blessed of God, full of grace and favor with God.


Luke 1:31-33:  Behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call His name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most- High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father, David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom, there shall be no end.


Even before the ages, the Word was the Son-of-the-Most-High.  When he became incarnate and appeared in the flesh, then he was called the Son-of-the-Most-High, who has appeared and works wonders.  When we hear the throne of David, this is not a kingdom perceivable by the senses, but instead a divine kingship where and when He rules over all the nations through the divine proclamation of the gospel.  The house of Jacob means those of the Jewish nation who believed; but the house of Jacob also includes Gentiles who believe.  David received a physical kingdom through many tribulations and dangers, so too. the Lord receives a spiritual kingdom which shall have no end to the knowledge of God or to Christianity.  For when we are persecuted, we shine with the grace of Christ.


Luke 1: 34-35: Then said Mary unto the angel, “how shall this be, seeing I know not a man” the angel answered and said to her, “the Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the power of the Most-High shall overshadow you; therefore, also that Holy Thing which is begotten of thee shall be called the Son of God.”


The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, rendering the womb fertile, and creating flesh for the Word which is one in essence with the Father.  Christ is the power of God.  That which was carried in the womb and the Son of God are not two separate entities, but one and the same, the Son of the Virgin and the Son of God.  The angel revealed the Holy Trinity by naming the Holy Spirit that Power which is the Son, and the Most-High which is the Father.



Luke 1: 36-42: “Behold, your kinswoman, Elizabeth, she has 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.”  Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word.”  And the angel departed from her.  Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill-country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth.  It came to pass, that, when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy spirit; and she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.


John, having received a gift of grace far exceeding what others had received, leaps in the womb of his mother, thus showing that he is greater than the prophets.  For they prophesied after they were born, but he was deemed worthy of such grace that he prophesied while yet in his mother’s womb. 


Luke 1: 43-50: Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  Blessed is she that believe that there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.  Mary said, “my soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden; for behold from henceforth all generations shall bless me.  For the Mighty One has done to me great things; and Holy is His name.  And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation.


Mary differentiates here between the soul and Spirit which is so important for Christian life in the Spirit.  She magnifies the Lord with her soul and with her spirit.

The soul is carnal and from the natural man, whose life is motivated by the soul, that is the life force, and lives according to the physical nature.  The soul is governed only by human thoughts.  For example, being hungry, thirsty, hates his enemy, gossips, murmurs, complains, etc.  In short imagines nothing loftier than his own nature and desires.  The spiritual man transcends the laws of his human nature, and thinks nothing that is merely human.  This is why, those who are not born-again into the Spirit cannot understand the things of God.


Luke 1:51-56: He has shown strength with His arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.  He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.  He has holpen His servant, Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to His seed forever.  Mary abode with Elizabeth about three months, and returned to her own house. 


The arm of the Father is the Son.  Therefore, God the Father, with His Son has shown strength and power over the order of nature.  For when the Son took flesh, nature was overthrown.  A Virgin gave birth.  God became man, and man became God.  The Lord has scattered the proud demons, casting them out of the souls of men sending some into the abyss and other into the swine.  


He has put down the mighty from their seats, meaning the demons who were tyrannizing mankind and using human souls as the seats upon which they rested.  The Pharisees were also mighty.  They plundered from the poor, and they occupied a seat, the chair of teaching, but they have been deposed.  God has exalted the lowly, meaning either those whom sin had brought low, or, the Gentiles.  He has exalted us, granting the gift of adoption as sons.  The Gentiles were also the hungry because they had neither the Scriptures, the law, nor the commandments.  He filled us with the good things of the Scriptures.


Tens of thousands of Israelites believed in Christ, and the promise that God spoke to Abraham was fulfilled, that in thy seed shall the nations of the earth be blessed.  In the spiritual sense, everyone who sees God is Israel, for the name Israel means seeing God.  The Lord has helped those who see God, leading us ever upwards to our heavenly inheritance.


Luke 1:57-64: Now the time was fulfilled that Elizabeth should give birth; and she brought forth a son.  Her neighbors and kinsfolk heard how the Lord had shown great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.  It came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.  His mother answered and said, “not so; but he shall be called John.”  They said to her, “there is none of your kindred that is called by this name.”  They made signs to his father, how he would have him called.  He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.”  They all marveled.  His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke blessing God.


1:13: The angel said to him, “Fear not, Zacharias; for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and you shall call his name John.”


Seven people were divinely named in the bible before their birth.  Ishmael; Isaac, Solomon, Josiah, Cyrus, John the Baptist, Jesus.


Luke 1: 65-75:  Fear came on all that dwelt round about them; and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea.  All they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What manner of child shall this be?” The hand of the Lord was with him.  His father, Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied saying, “Blessed by the Lord God of Israel; for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant, David; and he spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets of old; that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He swore to our father, Abraham; that He would grant unto us, that we, having been delivered without fear out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him in holiness and righteousness in His sight all the days of our life.


Just as the people were astounded by his silence; so now they are astounded when he speaks, so that by means of those two miracles everyone would understand that the child which had been born was not an ordinary child.  All these things took place by divine economy.


The horn of salvation is an emblem of kingship.  Kins are anointed with oil poured out from a horn.  Christ, therefore, is both the power and the kingship of the Father, and it is Christ who was raised up for us as our horn of salvation. 


Christ was raised up in the house of David, that is, he was born in Bethlehem, which is the city of David, as the prophets said.  For all the prophets spoke of the incarnation.  Micah 5:2: And thou, O Bethlehem, art by no means least, for from out of thee shall come a ruler.


The grace of Christ reached back to those who had already died. 


Luke 1: 76-80: And thou, child shall be called the prophet of the Most-High; for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; by which the Dayspring from on high has visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.  And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.


Jesus would not have been recognized as God if He had not forgiven the sins of the people.  For only God can forgive sins.  He forgives us our sins through His tender mercy, not through any work of ours, for we have done nothing good.  It is He who has visited us from on high.  He, who is called the Day-spring, because He is the Sun of righteousness.  He has appeared to us who were sitting in darkness, that is in ignorance and in the shadow of death, that is in sin.


There were and still are two evil which held and do hold sway over human nature; ignorance of God and sin, the evil to which the Jews were subject even though they knew God.  God appeared to the human nature, to enlighten those sitting in darkness, that is, those living in ignorance and godlessness, and to enlighten those sitting in the shadow of death, that is, those living in sin.


Sin is enmity against God, but righteousness is peace with God.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church, 10115 West Hidden Lakes Lane, Richmond, TX.

Scripture from K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of Blessed Theophylact (1050-1108AD). Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.   

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