God's Word to Zacharias, John the Baptist's FatherVolume 3, Number 36
Created Date: July 20, 2010
Posted Date: July 20, 2010
“Believe” in Matthew, Mark & Luke - Part 3:
We are examining the use of the Greek word “Pisteuo,” usually translated “believe” in each of the 35 occasions Matthew, Mark and Luke used it. Our last two studies revealed how Jesus uttered this word 5 times during 3 different incidents to teach, among other things, that to believe is to have faith. Now, I hope to categorize the 35 occasions believe is recorded by the three Gospel writers in order to see what this teaches.
Three points to remember as we proceed: 1) for now, we are dealing with only three synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. (John will be dealt with separately because John used this word 100 times, the most of any New Testament writer); 2) some incidents in Jesus' life are documented by all four Gospel writers, some recorded by three, some two and some are unique to one. Where more than one Gospel records an incident we find what was said and done presented from the different vantage points of each respective writer; 3) Although penned by fallible human beings from each writer's point of view, the Gospels do not contradict, rather they compliment each other because the writers were inspired by the infallible Holy Spirit,. Thus even the use of individual words, such as believe, was for a purpose by Divine inspiration.
The four Gospels together give us all we need to know about Jesus Christ's earthly ministry. Coupled with and in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies they provide all that is necessary to believe He was who He said He was. (When we get to the Pauline epistles we learn about His Heavenly ministry to members of His body today.) Following are the individuals who uttered the word “believe” and how many times they did so, as recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke:
1. The Angel Gabriel sent from God to speak to the Priest Zacharias - occurs 1 time,
2. Elizabeth, wife of the Priest Zacharias; mother of John the Baptist; speaking to Mary, mother of Jesus - occurs 1 time,
3. Jesus Himself while teaching - occurs 25 times,
4. The Chief Priests, Scribes & Pharisees - occurs 5 times,
5. The father of the demon possessed boy - occurs 1 time,
6. The Gospel writer Mark in his narrative - occurs 2 times.
In a recent Faith Studies it was noted the word “Pisteuo,” usually translated “believe,” is first recorded in the New Testament in Vol 3, No 33, May 11, 2010.) However, that reference has to do with the chronological order of the books of the New Testament (NT) whereas today's study deals with the first time in the history of the NT this word is recorded to have been uttered, . Before we go to this passage we need to understand conditions in Palestine at the time this event happened. Prior to this incident the last time recorded in Scriptures that God communicated by any means with anyone in His Nation Israel was through His Prophets in the Old Testament, which closes with the book of Malachi. Heaven was silent for 400 years from then until what is recorded here in the first chapter of Luke.when Jesus was addressing the Gentile Centurion (
I recommend you Google (look up on the Internet) ? years of silence,” which will bring up a number of references that explain the 400 years between the Old Testament and the New. These articles point out that even though God was silent during that time He was active in world history. He predicted in the book of Daniel certain political and military events that subsequently occurred. The nation of Greece came to power and was conquered by Rome, which God had predicted. The nation of Israel was under going change. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and scribes, none of which existed in the Old Testament, developed and came to positions of influence. Israel's Priesthood became corrupted. But there was at least one Priest, Zacharias, who along with his wife Elisabeth, were righteous before God. In fact Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron, the first High Priest from whom Israel's priesthood issued,.
God broke the 400 years of silence when He sent His angel Gabriel to appear to Zacharias while he was on duty ministering in the Temple burning incense. Gabriel appeared next to the alter where Zacharias was working, which frightened him,. Zacharias and Elizabeth were apparently past the age for child bearing but had prayed for a child. Gabriel told Zacharias his prayers had been heard and Elizabeth was going to have a son and he was to name him John, . Gabriel told of how John the Baptist would bring joy and gladness to Zacharias and Elizabeth; many would rejoice at his birth; he would be great in the sight of the Lord; he would not drink alcohol and he would be filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother's womb. . (He would be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, not alcohol.) All this reveals God's sovereignty in that John was chosen to be God's messenger before he was born. Gabriel went on to say that many in Israel would turn to God because of John's ministry; that John would go forth in the spirit of Elijah (by this was meant, not that Elijah should appear "in person," but that John should appear with a striking resemblance to Elijah); John's preaching would turn the people's hearts of that day to be like that of their fathers in the past, i.e., believing and obeying the Lord. John would prepare the way for the Lord (Jesus Christ.) .
But instead of being filled with joy and happiness at Gabriel's news Zacharias asked for a sign this would happen because he considered he and Elizabeth too old to bear a child. Gabriel then made it clear he stood in the presence of God and had been sent (by God) to inform him about what was going to happen.. Gabriel recognized that Zacharias did not believe his word so as a sign he said Zacharias would be struck deaf and dumb until John's birth. Luke 1:20. (See , where it indicates others had to make signs asking him what the baby should be called and he had to write the name on a tablet.) “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.” .
So we have here the first time God's Word records any news coming to mankind from heaven in 400 years. And it came to a Priest of Israel who feared God, a man above all others in Israel who should have believed, but he didn't. This was indeed a pattern of things to come. For, although many in Israel did rejoice in the Lord through John the Baptist's ministry and subsequently through the ministry of Jesus Christ, the leaders of Israel did not rejoice and believe. And, the majority in Israel followed those leaders. Thus, very appropriately, Zacharias couldn't hear or speak until his son was born. He'd asked for a sign and he got one.
All this looks bad for the Jews but we are in no position to judge or condemn them. For when Jesus, suffering immeasurably and dying on the cross, uttered the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”, He was not only being gracious, He was dead serious, because they didn't know what they were doing. This state of being was not unique to Israel for it applies to all humanity, . And when the Jews gave Him up to be crucified, it was not really their doing that took His life. Jesus gave His life, ; . The life of the sinless man Jesus could not be taken by anyone, he Himself gave it up, all because he was obeying His Father God's will, .
“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”.