Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 1 Study Notes
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Translation:And Zacharias, when he saw, was frightened; then fear fell upon him.
I. This verse clearly emphasizes Zacharias' reaction to seeing the angel on the right side of the altar of incense.
A. etaracthe is used by Luke only here and in 24:38. In that context the meaning of the term is filled out by using ptoeo (which means startled -- that instantaneous physiological reaction of adrenalin which the brain shoots into the body when the unexpected happens) with emfobo (the growth of the fear factor into a rather high state) and dokeo (which means to suppose, in the sense of coming to a conclusion for explanation/understanding purposes). The main problem is that their supposition was clearly off target. Jesus summarizes their condition with Luke's word for Zacharias' condition and He adds dialogismoi(which signifies the mental process of tossing up possibilities in an effort to either solve or confuse the central mental issue). The problems are significant because the mind/body complex are thrown into high gear and what will come out will come out according to past training (as was explained about police training/military training -- and as all kids know who work on computer games to get the responses down pat). This is a problem if the past training has not been solidly truthful. The reason for careful study and repetition is precisely here: suppositions in the midst of startling and fear-inducing circumstances are what will guide our behavior -- and behavior is all we have going for us in the externalized sensory world to make Truth known.
B. Theological Insight: The indwelling Spirit does not typically override the suppositions at the time they are made; He generally works ahead of time to override the suppositions before the circumstances develop (we are not tempted above our capacity -- assuming that we have been accepting the development of our capacity!).
II. The question is why Luke wanted us to know that Zacharias' reaction was so off target.
A. The response was clearly off target because the angel had to correct it.
B. The response was an open window to the condition of Zacharias' soul.
1. He was a godly man, but not fully developed in love (love casts out all fear; he that fears is not made perfect in love -- 1 John 4:18).
2. He was immature in his soul, not because he had not made the crucial loyalty decisions that are foundational to all real growth in Truth, but because of the wear and tear of living under divine sovereignty and timing while simultaneously wanting.
a. The problems of wanting:
1) It, typically, is thoughtless and under-developed.
2) It is rooted in things far deeper than our minds.
3) It sponsors, and then guides, behavior.
4) It generally makes us hypocritical.
b. The solutions to misguided wanting:
1) There must be an evaluation of the whys of wanting.
2) There must be a determination regarding the wanting -- will it continue, or not?
3) There must be a placement of the wanting into its proper slot in the agape of God.
C. Theophilus was in John's condition of being in-process and could, if he was inclined, learn from John's example.
1. What was he to learn?
a. Not to be critical of Zacharias! [Luke's description of Zacharias precludes the permission to criticize Another's servant].
b. But to recognize that good theology (delivered by Gabriel) leads to love and joy in the stead of frustration and fear.
2. How was he to learn?
a. Not by casual perusal and thoughtless exposure!
b. But by application of Psalm One's fundamental methodology of meditation.