“Jesus answered them.
What you have seen
Receive their sight.
Are raised up.
Have good news
Brought to them.’”
καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάνει ἃ εἴδετε καὶ ἠκούσατε· τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν, χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται, καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν, νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται, πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται·
Luke said that Jesus answered the disciples of John (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς). He told them to go tell John (Πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάνει) what they had seen and heard (ἃ εἴδετε καὶ ἠκούσατε). The blind ones receive their sight (τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν). The lame walk (χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν). The lepers are cleansed (λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται). The deaf hear (καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν). The dead are raised up (νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται). The poor have good news brought to them (πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται). This is almost word for word like Matthew, chapter 11:4-5, indicating a possible Q source. Jesus responded or answered these disciples and their main question. He told them to report back to John after their journey what they had heard and seen. Then Jesus listed what he had been doing. The blind people have recovered their sight. The lame people were walking around. The lepers were cleansed. The deaf were able to hear. The dead were raised up. The poor and destitute people were getting good news brought to them. This is a very strong response, as if to say that he was the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one, something that Jesus did not do often. This messianic expectation was based on Isaiah, chapter 35:4-6, when the savior, their God would come with a vengeance to make up for past problems. He would come to save them. Isaiah seems to indicate that there would be a reversal of fortune, a change in the ways that things happen. The blind would see. The deaf would hear. The lame would run. The mute people would speak. Have you had a change in your life?
“All the people
Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν
Mark, chapter 1:5, and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, spoke about all the people coming out to be baptized by John the Baptist. Matthew, like Mark, mentioned that all the people from Jerusalem and the Judean area were going out to see John the Baptist. However, Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him. Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region as well as all the people of Jerusalem were going out to see John Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John. Luke here, on the other hand, gave no geographical indications. He simply generically stated that all the people were baptized (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν). Once again, “all” might be an exaggeration. John baptized these people in the Jordan River, while they were confessing their sins. The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon. Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty. Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins. John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior. Clearly, John held a central role in the gospels of Mark and Luke, since they started their stories about Jesus with John.
They glorified God.
They praised God
For all they had heard
Just as it had been told
καὶ ὑπέστρεψαν οἱ ποιμένες δοξάζοντες καὶ αἰνοῦντες τὸν Θεὸν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἤκουσαν καὶ εἶδον καθὼς ἐλαλήθη πρὸς αὐτούς.
Luke said that these shepherds returned to their flocks of sheep (καὶ ὑπέστρεψαν οἱ ποιμένες). They glorified (δοξάζοντες) and praised God (καὶ αἰνοῦντες τὸν Θεὸν) for all they had heard (ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἤκουσαν) and seen (καὶ εἶδον), just as it had been told to them (καθὼς ἐλαλήθη πρὸς αὐτούς). These shepherds appear to be stand-ins for the people of Israel. They had all this information about the baby child Messiah, Christ, Savior, and Lord. They had actually seen him as they had glorified and praised God. Nevertheless, they seemed to go about their business, as if nothing had happened.
“When they saw this,
They made it known
What had been told them
About this child.”
ἰδόντες δὲ ἐγνώρισαν περὶ τοῦ ῥήματος τοῦ λαληθέντος αὐτοῖς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου τούτου.
Luke indicated that these shepherds, after they had seen the child in the manger (ἰδόντες δὲ), they made it known or proclaimed (ἐγνώρισαν) to others what had been told to them (περὶ τοῦ ῥήματος τοῦ λαληθέντος αὐτοῖς) about this child (περὶ τοῦ παιδίου τούτου). These shepherds were the original apostles or prophets of Jesus, telling the message about the new born savior that they had received from the angel of the Lord.
“This this will be
You will find
Of swaddling cloth,
Lying in a manger.”
καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν σημεῖον, εὑρήσετε βρέφος ἐσπαργανωμένον καὶ κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ.
Luke said that the angel told the shepherds that there would be a sign for them (καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν σημεῖον) in order to find this baby child (εὑρήσετε βρέφος) that would be a Savior, Messiah, Christ, and Lord. This baby child would be wrapped in bands of swaddling cloth (ἐσπαργανωμένον), lying in a manger (καὶ κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ). Instead of the sign of a star, as in Matthew, chapter 2:2, they were told about a place with a manger. These shepherds did not bring any gifts with them, unlike the Magi with their gold, frankincense, and myrrh in Matthew, chapter 2:11.
“In those days,
A decree went out
From the Emperor
That all the world
Should be registered.”
Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην.
Luke tried to put these events within a historical perspective. He said that in those days (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις), a decree or dogma went out (ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα) from the Emperor, Caesar Augustus (παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου), that all the world should be registered (ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην). Could all the world be registered in a census? Luke referred to the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who ruled the Roman empire with his famous Pax Romana, or peace everywhere, from 27 BCE to 14 CE, precisely the time of these events. Augustus was born in 63 BCE so that he would have been 77 years old when he died. He was sometimes called god, son of god, savior, or father. As the adopted son of Julius Caesar, he defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra to gain sole control of the empire. He set up an intricate set of taxes for the empire, so that there was a consent source of income. Thus, the local tax collectors or publicans became rich, but disliked, official people in the empire. The month of August was named after him, just as July was named after Julius Caesar. However, there is no evidence of any call to register the whole world. However, this would not have been inconsistent with his taxing plans, since the main reason for any registration or census would be for tax purposes. Thus, this is possible, but unlikely.
“By the tender mercy
Of our God,
From on high
διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους,
Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle with an insistence on the mercy of their God. Zechariah said that by the heart felt tender mercy and compassion of their God (διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν), a new day or a sunrise (ἀνατολὴ) from on high (ἐξ ὕψους) would break out upon them or visit them (ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς). As many of the prophets had pointed out already. the messiah or savior would come like a sunrise to break into their lives. So too, John, his son, would be part of this process that would culminate in Jesus.