An Angel Tells about the Birth of John
When Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest by the name of Zechariah from the priestly group of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was from the family of Aaron.
b 1.5 Aaron: The brother of Moses and the first priest.
1.5 1Ch 24.7
Both of them were good people and pleased the Lord God by obeying all that he had commanded.
But they did not have children. Elizabeth could not have any, and both Zechariah and Elizabeth were already old.
One day Zechariah's group of priests were on duty, and he was serving God as a priest.
According to the custom of the priests, he had been chosen to go into the Lord's temple that day and to burn incense,
c 1.9 burn incense: This was done twice a day, once in the morning and again in the late afternoon.
while the people stood outside praying.
11 All at once an angel from the Lord appeared to Zechariah at the right side of the altar.
12 Zechariah was confused and afraid when he saw the angel.
13 But the angel told him:
Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayers. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you must name him John.
His birth will make you very happy, and many people will be glad.
Your son will be a great servant of the Lord. He must never drink wine or beer, and the power of the Holy Spirit will be with him from the time he is born.
John will lead many people in Israel to turn back to the Lord their God.
He will go ahead of the Lord with the same power and spirit that Elijah
d 1.17 Elijah: The prophet Elijah was known for his power to work miracles.
had. And because of John, parents will be more thoughtful of their children. And people who now disobey God will begin to think as they ought to. That is how John will get people ready for the Lord.
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know this is going to happen? My wife and I are both very old.”
The angel answered, “I am Gabriel, God's servant, and I was sent to tell you this good news.
1.19 Dn 8.16; 9.21; Tb 12.15.
You have not believed what I have said. So you will not be able to say a thing until all this happens. But everything will take place when it is supposed to.”
21 The crowd was waiting for Zechariah and kept wondering why he was staying so long in the temple.
22 When he did come out, he could not speak, and they knew he had seen a vision. He motioned to them with his hands, but did not say a thing.
When Zechariah's time of service in the temple was over, he went home.
Soon after that, his wife was expecting a baby, and for five months she did not leave the house. She said to herself,
“What the Lord has done for me will keep people from looking down on me.”
e 1.25 keep people from looking down on me: When a married woman could not have children, it was thought that the Lord was punishing her.
An Angel Tells about the Birth of Jesus
One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee
with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David.
The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was confused by the angel's words and wondered what they meant.
Then the angel told Mary, “Don't be afraid! God is pleased with you,
and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was.
1.32,33 2S 7.12,13,16; Is 9.7.
He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God's power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God.
Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son.
Nothing is impossible for God!”
38 Mary said, “I am the Lord's servant! Let it happen as you have said.” And the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea.
40 She went into Zechariah's home, where she greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, her baby moved within her.
The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth.
Then in a loud voice she said to Mary:
God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have.
43 Why should the mother of my Lord come to me?
44 As soon as I heard your greeting, my baby became happy and moved within me.
45 The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.
Mary's Song of Praise
1.46-55 1S 2.1-10.
With all my heart
I praise the Lord,
47 and I am glad
because of God my Savior.
48 He cares for me,
his humble servant.
From now on,
all people will say
God has blessed me.
49 God All-Powerful has done
great things for me,
and his name is holy.
50 He always shows mercy
who worships him.
51 The Lord has used
his powerful arm
to scatter those
who are proud.
He drags strong rulers
1.52 Job 5.11; 12.19; Si 10.14.
from their thrones
and puts humble people
in places of power.
53 God gives the hungry
good things to eat,
and sends the rich away
54 He helps his servant Israel
and is always merciful
to his people.
The Lord made this promise
to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his family
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she went back home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 When Elizabeth's son was born,
58 her neighbors and relatives heard how kind the Lord had been to her, and they too were glad.
Eight days later they did for the child what the Law of Moses commands.
f 1.59 what the Law of Moses commands: This refers to circumcision. It is the cutting off of skin from the private part of Jewish boys eight days after birth to show that they belong to the Lord.
They were going to name him Zechariah, after his father.
But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John.”
61 The people argued, “No one in your family has ever been named John.”
62 So they motioned to Zechariah to find out what he wanted to name his son.
63 Zechariah asked for a writing tablet. Then he wrote, “His name is John.” Everyone was amazed.
64 Right away, Zechariah started speaking and praising God.
65 All the neighbors were frightened because of what had happened, and everywhere in the hill country people kept talking about these things.
66 Everyone who heard about this wondered what this child would grow up to be. They knew that the Lord was with him.
Zechariah Praises the Lord
67 The Holy Spirit came upon Zechariah, and he began to speak:
68 Praise the Lord,
the God of Israel!
He has come
to save his people.
69 Our God has given us
a mighty Savior
g 1.69 a mighty Savior: The Greek text has “a horn of salvation.” In the Scriptures animal horns are often a symbol of great strength.
from the family
of David his servant.
70 Long ago the Lord promised
by the words
of his holy prophets
71 to save us from our enemies
and from everyone
who hates us.
72 God said he would be kind
to our people
his sacred promise.
73 He told our ancestor Abraham
74 that he would rescue us
from our enemies.
Then we could serve him
75 by being holy and good
as long as we live.
You, my son, will be called
a prophet of God
in heaven above.
You will go ahead of the Lord
to get everything ready
77 You will tell his people
that they can be saved
when their sins
78 God's love and kindness
will shine upon us
like the sun that rises
in the sky.
h 1.78 like the sun that rises in the sky: Or “like the Messiah coming from heaven.”
On us who live
in the dark shadow
this light will shine
to guide us
into a life of peace.
80 As John grew up, God's Spirit gave him great power. John lived in the desert until the time he was sent to the people of Israel.
The Birth of Jesus
About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books.
i 2.1 names ... listed in record books: This was done so that everyone could be made to pay taxes to the Emperor.
These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
j 2.2 Quirinius was governor of Syria: It is known that Quirinius made a record of the people in A.D. 6 or 7. But the exact date of the record taking that Luke mentions is not known.
3 Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed.
4 So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David's hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David's family.
Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby,
and while they were there,
she gave birth to her first-born
k 2.7 first-born: The Jewish people said that the first-born son in each of their families belonged to the Lord.
son. She dressed him in baby clothes
l 2.7 dressed him in baby clothes: The Greek text has “wrapped him in wide strips of cloth,” which was how young babies were dressed.
and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.
That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep.
All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened.
But the angel said, “Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy.
This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.
You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.”
13 Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said:
14 “Praise God in heaven!
Peace on earth to everyone
who pleases God.”
15 After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay.
17 When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him.
18 Everyone listened and was surprised.
19 But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant.
20 As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said.
Eight days later Jesus' parents did for him what the Law of Moses commands.
m 2.21 what the Law of Moses commands: See the note at 1.59.
And they named him Jesus, just as the angel had told Mary when he promised she would have a baby.
Simeon Praises the Lord
The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born.
n 2.22 after her baby is born: After a Jewish mother gave birth to a son, she was considered “unclean” and had to stay home until he was circumcised (see the note at 1.59). Then she had to stay home for another 33 days, before offering a sacrifice to the Lord.
They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord,
just as the Law of the Lord says, “Each first-born
o 2.23 first-born: See the note at 2.7.
baby boy belongs to the Lord.”
The Law of the Lord also says that parents have to offer a sacrifice, giving at least a pair of doves or two young pigeons. So that is what Mary and Joseph did.
25 At this time a man named Simeon was living in Jerusalem. Simeon was a good man. He loved God and was waiting for God to save the people of Israel. God's Spirit came to him
26 and told him that he would not die until he had seen Christ the Lord.
27 When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to do what the Law of Moses says should be done for a new baby, the Spirit told Simeon to go into the temple.
28 Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God,
29 “Lord, I am your servant,
and now I can die in peace,
because you have kept
your promise to me.
30 With my own eyes I have seen
what you have done
to save your people,
31 and foreign nations
will also see this.
Your mighty power is a light
2.32 Is 42.6; 49.6; 52.10.
for all nations,
and it will bring honor
to your people Israel.”
33 Jesus' parents were surprised at what Simeon had said.
34 Then he blessed them and told Mary, “This child of yours will cause many people in Israel to fall and others to stand. The child will be like a warning sign. Many people will reject him,
35 and you, Mary, will suffer as though you had been stabbed by a dagger. But all this will show what people are really thinking.”
Anna Speaks about the Child Jesus
The prophet Anna was also there in the temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. In her youth she had been married for seven years, but her husband died.
And now she was eighty-four years old.
p 2.37 And now she was eighty-four years old: Or “And now she had been a widow for eighty-four years.”
Night and day she served God in the temple by praying and often going without eating.
q 2.37 without eating: The Jewish people sometimes went without eating (also called “fasting”) to show their love for God or to show sorrow for their sins.
38 At that time Anna came in and praised God. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free.
The Return to Nazareth
After Joseph and Mary had done everything that the Law of the Lord commands, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee.
The child Jesus grew. He became strong and wise, and God blessed him.
The Boy Jesus in the Temple
Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for Passover.
And when Jesus was twelve years old, they all went there as usual for the celebration.
After Passover his parents left, but they did not know that Jesus had stayed on in the city.
They thought he was traveling with some other people, and they went a whole day before they started looking for him.
When they could not find him with their relatives and friends, they went back to Jerusalem and started looking for him there.
46 Three days later they found Jesus sitting in the temple, listening to the teachers and asking them questions.
47 Everyone who heard him was surprised at how much he knew and at the answers he gave.
48 When his parents found him, they were amazed. His mother said, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been very worried, and we have been searching for you!”
Jesus answered, “Why did you have to look for me? Didn't you know that I would be in my Father's house?”
r 2.49 in my Father's house: Or “doing my Father's work.”
But they did not understand what he meant.
51 Jesus went back to Nazareth with his parents and obeyed them. His mother kept on thinking about all that had happened.
Jesus became wise, and he grew strong. God was pleased with him and so were the people.