Dedication to Theophilus
1:1Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 1:2even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 1:3it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; 1:4that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed.1
- What is the meaning of the name Luke, and what is its significance in connection with the third Synoptic Gospel? The name means “luminous,” “enlightening,” “instructing.” The Book of Luke is a luminous record of events in the life of Jesus Christ, instructing and enlightening the reader in the way of Truth.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
1:5There was in the days of Herod, king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias1, of the course of Abijah: and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth2.1:6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 1:7And they had no child,3 because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
1:8Now it came to pass, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 1:9according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord4 and burn incense.5 1:10And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the hour of incense. 1:11And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of altar of incense. 1:12And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 1:13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: because thy supplication is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.6 1:14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 1:15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink7; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 1:16And many of the children of Israel shall be turn unto the Lord their God. 1:17And he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him. 1:18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 1:19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak unto thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. 1:20And behold, thou shalt be silent and not able to speak8, until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
1:21And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marvelled while he tarried in the temple. 1:22And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: and he continued making signs unto them, and remained dumb. 1:23And it came to pass, when the days of his ministration were fulfilled, he departed unto his house.
1:24And after these days Elisabeth his wife conceived;10 and she hid herself five months, saying, 1:25Thus hath the Lord done unto me in the days wherein he looked upon me, to take away my reproach among men.
- Zacharias. Zacharias represents in individual consciousness the spiritual phase of consciousness. Zacharias means “remembered by Jehovah.” His work is in the temple. He is wedded to Elisabeth, who may be compared to the soul in the exalted state that it attains through living an entirely blameless, devoted life.
- Elizabeth. The literal meaning of Elisabeth is “my God is my oath,” or “a worshiper of God.” The soul, in its adoration of God, is blameless, and its world is a world of innocence and peace.
- They had no child. They had fallen into a belief in years; that they had failed to bring forth the fruit of mature spirituality, which is a consciousness of spiritual substance, life, and intelligence. The fruit of mature spirituality is symbolized by John, “the grace of the Lord.” And it is this which every spiritual-minded individual is expected to bring forth.
- enter into the temple of the Lord. The priest’s entering into the temple represents spiritual meditation—metaphysically called “going into the silence.” All extraneous thoughts, interests, and aspirations collect hy degrees around the transmuting process (“the whole multitude of the people were praying at the hour of incense”). In deep concentration on the desired Truth of one’s being, one becomes aware of the thought of the Lord (the angel, Gabriel). The thought that we as spiritual beings can control our destinies, and that we are even now making our lives what they are, at first instills fear. Zacharias was afraid of the angel. Humility of spirit hesitates to take to itself power that hitherto has been conceded to God only. However, the thought of God persistently held brings us the assurance that we are on the right road. The angel of the Lord stood “on the right side of the altar of incense.”
- and burn incense. The burning of the incense signifies the transmutation of the finer essences of the body. These essences are transmuted to what may be termed the fourth or radiant dimension, and a foundation is laid for an organism of permanent character. Paul calls it the “celestial body.” This process takes place whenever the I AM makes union in the body with the Lord, or Higher Self
- call him John. John symbolizes the fruit of the union of the soul with spiritual consciousness. The union of soul and spiritual consciousness brings forth an ego that prepares the way for one greater than itself, the Christ of God, the highest expression of Divine Mind in man.
- strong drink. The parentage of John the Baptist accounts for the statement that he would drink no wine or strong drink but would be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” in this respect, that when the soul is united with the spiritual consciousness the result of the union is dedication or consecration to God. John was so consecrated from before his birth. Consecration implies a concentration of all the thoughts and energies on the subject. Win and strong drink scatter man’s forces, making concentration impossible. It was therefore foreign to John’s experience.
- not able to speak. The work of the Spirit goes so far beyond what the mortal consciousness can grasp, that man is rendered dumb when the nature of spiritual life and its ways are proclaimed to him for the first time. These soul processes being unusual, even the spiritually minded do not understand what is taking place, and what the result will be, although assured by the messengers of the Lord of a propitious outcome. Where no explanation can be offered, the natural attitude of the individual is one of silence.
- Elizabeth his wife conceived. Elisabeth represents the soul, which, after many apparently fruitless experiences and a long-continued search for the way of llfa, conceives the idea of divine grace (John) as the law of man’s being. In order to receive the blessing of a son something positive was required of Zacharias; namely the establishment of his faith in the invisible good as being present and active.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
1:26Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 1:27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 1:28And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee. 1:29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be.1:30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 1:31And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 1:32He 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: 1:33and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 1:34And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 1:35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee:1 wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. 1:36And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren. 1:37For no word from God shall be void of power. 1:38And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord2; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
- the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. As explained by the angel to Mary, we should not overlook the fact that this coming into activity of the Christ body is the result of an exalted idea sown in the mind and brought forth in the soul. Therefore, Mary, the soul, becomes devout and expectant and believes in the so-called miraculous as a possibility. Mary expected the birth of the Messiah as the Holy Spirit had promised. She was overshadowed by that high idea and it formed in her mind the seed that quickened into the cell and in due season there were aggregations of cells strong enough in their activity to attract the attention of the consciousness, and what is called the birth of Jesus took place.
- Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. The word of God is all-powerful, all-potential, as is proved by the experience of Elisabeth in bringing forth John, and Mary in bringing forth Jesus.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
1:39And Mary arose in these days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; 1:40and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. 1:41And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb;1 and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; 1:42and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 1:43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me? 1:44For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 1:45And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord.
- the babe leaped in her womb. This Scripture no doubt has an esoteric meaning; yet it is also historical. The power represented by Elisabeth on the intellectual plane corresponds to that represented by Mary on the spiritual plane. These thought forces are closely related. In truth Elisabeth represents the intellectual soul and Mary the spiritual soul. Being closely related, they are naturally drawn to each other. “The babe leaped in her womb” reveals a close soul sympathy between the two reincarnating souls, John and Jesus, The song of Mary is the expression of a soul that is convinced that it is working according to law, and that the blessings of the Most High are being poured out upon it.
Mary's Song of Praise
1:46And Mary said,
My soul doth magnify the Lord,1
1:47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
1:48For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid:
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
1:49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things;
1:50And his mercy is unto generations and generations
On them that fear him.
1:51He hath showed strength with his arm;
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart.
1:52He hath put down princes from their thrones,
And hath exalted them of low degree.
1:53The hungry he hath filled with good things;
And the rich he hath sent empty away.
1:54He hath given help to Israel his servant,
That he might remember mercy
1:55(As he spake unto our fathers)
Toward Abraham and his seed for ever.
1:56And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned unto her house.
- My soul doth magnify the Lord. The creative faculty of imagination. We habitually exercise this faculty either consciously or unconsciously. Imagination makes the soul the fertile side of our nature, out of which spring the issues of life. The soul has power to magnify whatever enters it. Since it is the seat of the emotions, which control man’s happiness, it is important that we learn to magnify only that which is good and wholesome. It magnifies whatever is held in the conscious mind. In sense consciousness the soul magnifies trouble, disaster, and other negative thoughts, taking the good as a matter of course and leaving it to pass unacknowledged. In higher levels of consciousness the soul magnifies the good.
The Birth of John the Baptist
1:57Now Elisabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.1 1:58And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her; and they rejoiced with her.
1:59And it came to pass on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father. 1:60And his mother answered2 and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 1:61And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 1:62And they made signs to his father, what he would have him called. 1:63And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, His name is John3. And they marvelled all. 1:64And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, blessing God. 1:65And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 1:66And all that heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, What then shall this child be?4 For the hand of the Lord was with him.
- she brought forth a son. The fruit of spiritual consciousness in the innocent soul is a new idea, or outward expression, of grace and mercy. The new concept of grace and mercy frees the consciousness from undesirable thoughts habits, and the soul overflows with joy. This freeing thought has come from one’s own mind; it is one’s own son.
- And his mother answered. The first thought is that the offspring of wisdom and love (Zacharias and Elisabeth) should be, like the father, an exponent of the divine law only, but mother love (Elisabeth) determines that John, meaning grace and mercy, shall be the dominant characteristic of their offspring.
- His name is John. Deep in the soul is the conviction that a special function of Spirit performs the work of preparing man to free himself from the clutch of sense. As long as he labors under a burden of condemnation, either that of his own conscience or the external censure of others, the way to achieve freedom is not open to him. Only when he perceives the truth that grace and mercy are included in the divine law as a very integral part of it does he find the voice of praise and blessing in his own heart. So the forerunner of freedom is the knowledge that grace and mercy are inalienable from the divine law, “His name is John.”
- What then shall this child be? “And fear came on all that dwelt round about them” does not necessarily mean a state of dread or anxiety in the mind. It means rather a consciousness of an idea not fully understood, but so all-pervading and so tenacious as to be instinctive. The understanding that grace and mercy are inseparable from the redeeming action of the higher law opens up a realm of boundless expectation. “What then shall this child be?”
1:67And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied,1 saying,
1:68Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
For he hath visited and wrought redemption2 for his people,
1:69And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of his servant David
1:70(As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old),
1:71Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
1:72To show mercy towards, our fathers,
And to remember his holy covenant;
1:73The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father,
1:74To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies
Should serve him without fear,
1:75In holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
1:76Yea and thou, child, shalt be called the prophet3 of the Most High:
For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways;
1:77To give knowledge of salvation4 unto his people
In the remission of their sins,
1:78Because of the tender mercy of our God,
Whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us,
1:79To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death;
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
1:80And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.
- and prophesied. Zacharias, symbolizing a prophetic state of consciousness has here received the inspiration of Spirit according to his understanding of law and is here imparting that prophecy to all responding thoughts in consciousness.
- Redemption. The “redemption” that the exaltation of reality brings is a quickening of the Christ concept in the heart. The expression of this concept leads to the establishing of peace among men of good will. It is the duty of everyone whose vision of the kingdom of heaven is a vision of the heart transformed. This transformation cannot take place in a heart that is disturbed or in a state of unrest.
- thou, child, shall be called the prophet. Is it possible for us to become our own prophet? Yes. As we learn to recognize causes and relate them to their effects we can tell what will follow the setting in motion of a cause. We can, by our own efforts, develop clearer understanding. The desire and the will to do right brings enlightenment. The “sun of righteousness” makes the way clear to those who habitually walk by it’s light.
- knowledge of salvation. The Son of God was born under the law “that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual.” Evolution from sense to Spirit is under law, otherwise the command “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” would be meaningless. Perfection creates after its kind, sometimes immediately, at other times by a gradual process; but in every case the divine will is that the race with its individuals shall “receive the adoption of sons.”
Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Mark Hicks
Download PDF of Luke 1 with Metaphysical Footnotes (ASV) from the Fillmore Study Bible
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