Luke 1–2: Mercy & Joy

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 19: Saturday

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as those, who from the begin­ning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty about the things you have been taught.
Luke 1:1–4 LSB

Saturday’s Bible reading of Luke 1–2, begins Luke’s carefully researched and written gospel. In these opening verses Luke tells Theophilus exactly why he is writing and exactly how he has compiled his account. As you read, watch for the names of rulers, places and events that tie this record down in time and loca­tion. Their inclusion is significant as it underscores Luke’s care in being precise about when and where these events unfolded.

Luke begins his narrative with three announcements or annun­ciations: the angel Gabriel announces to Zecharias the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, the angel Gabriel announces to Mary the forthcoming birth of Jesus, and the angel of the Lord announces to the shepherds the birth of a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2 is the well-known Christmas story which in God’s providence has been heard by multitudes around the world when Linus recites it on A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Luke 2 also records two significant visits of Jesus to the temple: the first occurs when, as the firstborn son, the infant Jesus is presented to the Lord; the second occurs at the Passover when Jesus was twelve, when He astounds the Temple teachers with His understanding and answers.

Look for the words mercy and joy (and synonymous phrases) in these chapters. Who uses these words? What is their context and significance?

Notice also the repetitive ending Luke uses at the close of each section in these chapters. After the birth of John the Baptist, Luke writes:

And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the desolate regions until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Luke 1:80 LSB

After the birth of Jesus, His presentation in the Temple, and return to Nazareth:

Now the Child continued to grow and become strong, being filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Luke 2:40 LSB

After Jesus’ visit to the Temple when He was twelve:

And it happened that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.

When they saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, “Child, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.”
And He said to them, “Why is it that you were searching for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand the statement which He had spoken to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them, and His mother was treasuring all these things in her heart.
And Jesus was advancing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Luke 2:46–52 LSB

With those words, Luke finishes his record of the significant and miraculous events he wanted Theophilus to know regarding the birth of John the Baptist and the birth and childhood of Jesus Christ. In chapter three, he will turns to their lives as adults, as he writes of the ministry of John the Baptist.


Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The Angel Appears to Zacharias: Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov. Public Domain.
The Annunciation: Henry Ossawa Tanner. Public Domain.
Annunciation to the Shepherds: Adam Pynacker. Public Domain.
The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: James Tissot:
The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (La présentation de Jésus au Temple): James Tissot. Public Domain. Public Domain.
Christ Among the Doctors: Vasily Poleno.
Jesus Is Found in the Temple: Carl Blonch. Public Domain.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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