Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for December 15, 2013
Zechariah Prophesies About His Son Luke 1: 57-80
Focal Outline: Luke 1: 57-66 When it was time
Luke 1: 67-75 He has come
Luke 1: 76-80 A prophet of the Most High
Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)
1. Some of our expectations have to be let go, so that we can be released to live into God’s greatest hopes.
2. Despite the input of others, sometimes we have to press forward and stand firm with what is right.
3. God has pursued humanity for a long time now. If we try, that much should be evident to see.
4. Although Christ arrived long ago, we can still help prepare those around us to receive His salvation.
Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)
1. Which of your expectations of God may not be fair, and may be holding you back from a fuller belief?
2. Whose expectations do you need to press beyond so that you can be what God made you to be?
3. Think back through your life, through history and the scriptures. How has God persisted in Redemption?
4. What are some things that people around you need so that they have a better chance to know Christ?
Points to Ponder
[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]
Expectations and perspective are such strong parts of our lives. They tend to travel together. Sometimes, those expectations are put upon us by someone else. Or, through an act of group-think. However these expectations come about, what people go in looking for will shape what they are able to see. My Elizabeth and I were away on vacation once. Of all places, I ran into an old friend from home. Although we had known each other our entire lives, we were so far away from where either of us lived that it took him a second to realize who I was. He simply hadn’t expected to see me!
Last week we heard Mary’s Song. She was letting us know what the anticipated Christ would be all about. This week, Zechariah’s prophecy that is found in this text will once again anticipate a child’s life purpose. But, notice the odd path to that proclamation. Zechariah has been struck mute. And, as the child is born the group around Zechariah and Elizabeth assume the baby will be named traditionally.
Going against the momentum of culture, or even a group, is tough sometimes. Even most of us who would plead our independence are really conformists to some degree. The group is ready to name the new baby after Zechariah. But, he writes that the angel has said the baby will be called John. Notice that his voice returns! But, even that return symbolizes a larger freedom that is found when we live into what God intends. This child is born into a home that is committed to letting God’s expectations rule. As they free themselves especially from others’ expectations, John’s life looks a lot different to them.
Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)
1. What expectations have you had to let go of as you move through life? What new experiences have, so far, been most formative? Adults grow in stages and at different ages. Letting go is a task of adulthood!
2. How have you experienced Gods’ mercy? That is a question our writer will ask in this week’s lesson. “Mercy” is a particular word. Talk with your group about what it means—and when you all have received this.
3. What is some of the best advice you have been given around a big event— like marriage, birth of a child or beginning a new job? What is some of the worst advice you can remember receiving? What is the difference?
4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p108 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. How do we celebrate a birth typically? What could we do to instill freedom and openness from the beginning?
Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)
1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Locating the Text” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the Focal Passage using a variety of teaching methods…
Luke 1: 57-66 When it was time
What significant bits of info do v57-8 give us? (gender, reason for custom, support) So, then, why did that make the custom/assumption in v59 understandable? Why did Elizabeth resist in v60-1? In v62-3, why is Zechariah mute? In v63b-65, why was he suddenly able to speak? What makes the question in v66 prophetic?
Luke 1: 67-75 He has come
What does Zechariah believe God is working to accomplish in v67? (redemption) Why is the verb tense significant? (past tense = done) In v69-71, what are some specifics he believes God has done? V72 continues on with a forecast of Christ’s life. What are some actions that will be included?
Luke 1: 76-80 A prophet of the Most High
What lays ahead for the child himself, according to v76-7? In v78-9, what does Zechariah have conviction about regarding God? What bits of perspective do v80 give us about John? (many think he was an Ascetic)
2. On p124 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “People offer well-meaning opinions during special times like the birth of a child. This can be helpful, but sometimes it is just annoying.” When have you had to put aside expectations of people close to you in order to follow God’s leadership? What gives you the strength to do so?
3. How does 2 Sa 7: 11-16 relate to this passage? How about Mt 5: 1-11?
4. On p126 our lesson author says “Zechariah arrived at this understanding of the Messiah’s purpose after a long period of silence. As you go through this week, make space for silence.” This week, pray through Zechariah’s song (v68-79) each day as a spiritual exercise. Remain quiet in those moments. Listen.
5. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a parallel of a character in the movie “The Apostle.” See page 82 for the meaning of John’s name. P83 will suggest why Zechariah’s “song” is actually a prophecy. How does this connect with Ps 132: 17 and Micah 7: 20? (see p83) So, what is John’s purpose? (see p84)
Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)
- a. How have you experienced God’s mercy? Thank God for these gifts in your life and in others.
b. Ask for God’s help in being more aware of how God is at work in the world. Pray for humility and joy!
- How long does God need to proclaim love for humanity? What more do we need to see in order to believe? As you journey through Advent, consider how God’s work in/around you fulfills these promises.
- See “Applying the Lesson” on p113 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. How has this text helped us to do what John was sent to do—prepare the way for Christ at work in the world?
People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!
Bo Prosser, series editor, is the Coordinator for Missional Congregations at CBF in Atlanta.
Charles Qualls, session writer, is Associate Pastor at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Copyright SS Helps 2013 All references to Smyth and Helwys literature are used by permission of the Publisher.
All materials used are available through Smyth & Helwys Publishing,www.helwys.com, 800-747-3016.
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