Luke 1: New tricks for an old dog

November 14th, 2006

After a while in life you get set in your ways. You discover that you’re good at some things but not good at others. Some of your early dreams might have come true, but you learn to settle for the fact that most of your bigger dreams never will come true. You will never be the greatest footballer or singer or artist in the world. And as Zechariah and Elizabeth were growing old, they had come to terms with the fact that Elizabeth was barren and they would never have the child that they had always wanted. So it was really difficult for Zechariah to swallow the impossible-sounding story that an angel wanted to tell him…

Luke’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 1

1:1 Since many have undertaken to write an account of the events which took place among us, 1:2 just as they were described to us by those who were first-hand witnesses and servants of the word from the beginning, 1:3 I also decided, having investigated everything from the original sources, to write an account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 1:4 so that you can know the reliability of the things which you have been taught.

1:5 In the days when Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the priestly division of Abijah, and he was married to a woman named Elizabeth who was a descendant of Aaron. 1:6 They were both righteous before God, living in careful obedience to all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 1:7 They were childless because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both growing old. 1:8 One day his division was on duty and he was performing the priest’s tasks before God. 1:9 In accordance with the tradition of the priest’s office, he was required to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 1:10 The whole assembly of people was praying outside when the incense was burned.

1:11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the incense altar. 1:12 Zechariah was startled to see him, and fear fell upon him. 1:13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard and your wife Elizabeth will have a baby, and you will name him John. 1:14 You will have joy and happiness, and many people will celebrate his birth. 1:15 He will be important in the sight of the Lord. He will not drink wine or strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the day of his birth. 1:16 He will persuade many of the children of Israel to turn back to the Lord, their God. 1:17 He will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, preparing a people ready for the Lord.”

1:18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man, and my wife is getting on.”

1:19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel, and I stand in the presence of God. I was sent to speak to you, to bring you this good news. 1:20 Now you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things happen, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”

1:21 The people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were surprised that he took so long in the temple. 1:22 When he came out he was unable to speak to them, and they could tell that he had seen a vision in the temple. He made signs to them, but remained mute. 1:23 And when he had finished his tour of duty, he went home. 1:24 Afterwards his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and kept herself out of the public eye for five months, saying, 1:25 “The Lord has looked upon me to take away my shame among people, by doing this for me.”

1:26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, 1:27 to a young woman betrothed to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The young woman’s name was Mary. 1:28 The angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favoured one! The Lord is with you.”

1:29 She was disturbed to hear this, and wondered what this sort of greeting might mean. 1:30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favour with God. 1:31 You will become pregnant, and give birth to a son, and will name him ‘Jesus.’ 1:32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor, David, 1:33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”

1:34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this happen, given that I am a virgin?” 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will fill you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. The holy one to whom you give birth will be called the Son of God. 1:36 Your relative Elizabeth has also become pregnant in her old age, and although she was once called barren she is now in her sixth month. 1:37 Nothing is impossible for God.” 1:38 Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May things happen to me as you have said.” The angel left her.

1:39 Then Mary went quickly to a town in the hill district of Judea, 1:40 and went into the house of Zechariah to greet Elizabeth. 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 1:42 She exclaimed, “You are blessed among women, and the fruit of your womb is also blessed! 1:43 Why am I so favoured, that I should be visited by the mother of my Lord? 1:44 When I heard the sound of your greeting, the baby leaped in my womb for joy! 1:45 You are blessed because you have believed that the Lord will do the things which he has said!”

1:46 Mary said,

“My soul praises the Lord.
1:47 My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
1:48 because he has noticed his humble servant girl.
From now on, all generations will call me blessed.
1:49 The mighty one has done great things for me.
His name is holy.
1:50 He has mercy on those who fear him for generation after generation.
1:51 He has done mighty things with his arm.
He has scattered the proud in the imaginings of their hearts.
1:52 He has removed the powerful from their thrones,
And has lifted up the humble.
1:53 He has filled hungry people with good things.
He has sent the rich away empty.
1:54 He has helped his servant Israel,
1:55 As he promised our forefathers,
Remembering mercy to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

1:56 Mary stayed with her about three months before returning home. 1:57 The time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son. 1:58 Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, and they celebrated with her. 1:59 On the eighth day it was time to circumcise the child, and they wanted to call him Zechariah after his father. 1:60 But his mother answered, “No, he will be called John.” 1:61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 1:62 They made signs to ask his father what he wanted to name him. 1:63 He asked for a writing tablet, then wrote, “His name is John.” They were all amazed. 1:64 Suddenly his mouth was opened, his tongue was freed, and he spoke, praising God. 1:65 Everyone who lived around them was afraid, and these events were talked about throughout the hill district of Judea. 1:66 Everyone who heard them reflected on these events, saying, “What will this child grow up to be?” The hand of the Lord was with him.

1:67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied,

1:68 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people;
1:69 and has raised up a mighty saviour for us, a descendant of his servant David
1:70 as he promised through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago,
1:71 rescue from our enemies, and from all who hate us;
1:72 He showed mercy towards our forefathers,
by remembering his holy covenant,
1:73 the promise which he made to Abraham, our ancestor,
1:74 to save us from our enemies,
and allow us to serve him without fear,
1:75 in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
1:76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
because you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
1:77 You will let his people know how to be saved through forgiveness of their sins.
1:78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,
the light from on high will dawn upon us,
1:79 to shine on people living in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

1:80 The child grew, and became strong in spirit. He lived in the desert until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Entry Filed under: Trust

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. » God&hellip  |  October 25th, 2008 at 7:51 am

    […] Luke chapter 1 describes an elderly couple who were sadly resigned to the fact that they were unable to have a baby, when God intervened very unexpectedly and miraculously. What do you do when God suddenly answers a prayer that you have been praying for a long time, when you have given up hope of getting a positive answer? Other people might have taken the “good fortune” in their stride, and got on with life as normal. However, the elderly couple in question recognised that God was doing a new thing, which required a different response. […]

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