In the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a priest named Zechariah, was born by the order of Abijah. His wife, Elizabeth, was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, conducting themselves superbly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. Unfortunately, they had no children because Elizabeth couldn’t have them. They both were also very old. (Luke 1:5-7)

When it was Zechariah’s division turn in the presence of God, he was serving as a priest and was chosen by lot, as was their custom, to determine who would enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. When it was time, all the worshipers gathered around and prayed during the hour of incense. (Luke 1:8-10)

Angel Of The Lord Visits Zachariah

While all this was happening, an Angel of the Lord came to Zachariah and stood right beside the altar of incense, scaring him. The Angel said, “Do not be afraid; your prayers have been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will have a son; you shall call him John. He’s going to be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice with you at his birth, and he’s going to be great in the Lord’s eyes. But listen, he must not drink wine or other fermented drinks. He will be filled with a Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord, and he will walk with God in the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children [Mal 4:6] and turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous. He will prepare people and me them ready for the Lord.” (Luke 1:11-17)

Zachariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure? My wife and I are both elderly now.” The Angel followed up, “I am Gabriel, who stands before the presence of God. I was sent to announce these good things to you. So then, you shall be silent and unable to speak until these things occur because you didn’t trust my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” (Luke 1:18-20)

Meanwhile, the people outside waited for Zacheriah because he took a long time in the sanctuary. When he eventually came out, he couldn’t speak, and they knew he had seen a vision. He was gesturing to them and remained mute. After his days of service were completed, he returned home. More time passed, and Elizabeth conceived and kept herself concealed for five months, saying, “The Lord did this to me and took away my disgrace among the people.” (Luke 1: 21-25)

Angel Of The Lord Visits Mary

In the sixth month, Gabriel was sent from God again to a city in Galilee whose name was Nazareth. He visited a virgin girl named Mary, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph from the house of David. Gabriel told her, “Hello, favored one, the Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28)

Mary was taken aback and troubled by this and wondered what would happen next. Gabriel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will have a child and give birth to a son. When you do, declare his name, Jesus. This man will be great and be called the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David. He will reign over the house of Jacob through the ages, and there will be no end to his kingdom” (Luke 1:29-33)

“How will that happen since I’ve never been intimate with a man?” Mary asked. Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Your son will be called holy, a Son of God. And look at your cousin, Elizabeth: she also conceived a son in her old age. She’s six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible with God.” And Mary said, “I have a servant of the Lord. May it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1: 34-38)

Mary Stays With Elizabeth

Mary then hurried to the town in the hilly country of Judea, where Zachariah and Elizabeth lived, and she greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby inside her womb leaped, and Elizabeth was filled with The Holy Spirit. In a loud voice, she cried, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will deliver. Why am K so favored that the mother of my Lord would come to me? As soon as you greeted me, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed what the Lord has said, and it will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:39-45)

Mary then sang a new song of joy: “My soul proclaimed how great is the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God, my savior. God looked upon the low, the state of his servant. From now on, all generations will bless me. Because the Mighty One has done great things. Holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him. [Psalm 103:17] He has performed mighty deeds with his arms. He has scattered those who are proud in their hearts. He brought rulers off their throws and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry and sent the rich away empty. [Psalm 107:9] He has given aid to Israel and remembers his mercy. Just as he promised our fathers, Abraham, and his seed. Through all the ages.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three more months and then went home. (Luke 1:46-56)

John The Baptist Is Born

When it was time for Elizabeth to deliver her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives rejoiced with Elizabeth when they heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy. On the eighth day, when they came to circumcise the little child, they began calling him by his father’s name, Zacheriah. However, Elizabeth spoke up and said, “No, he shall be called John.” (Luke 1:57-60)

The neighbor and relative told her, “There is no one in your family named John.” They began to signal to Zachariah what he might wish the baby to be called. Zachariah asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” which astonished all of them. His mouth and tongue were set free that instant, and he spoke, blessing God. Fear came upon everyone around, and these stories were discussed throughout the whole hill country of Judaea. Everyone who heard the stories wondered about them, saying, “What then will this little child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.” (Luke 1:61-66)

His father Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel because he has come and redeemed his people. He has raised a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy profits long ago), salvation from our enemies and the hands who hate us [Psalm 106:10] to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to Abraham our father, to rescue us from the hands of our enemies so that we may worship him in holiness and justice before his presence for all our days. And now you, little child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you go forth before the presence of the Lord to prepare his ways [Malachi 3:1] to give his people the knowledge of salvation in the forgiveness of their sins, through God’s tender mercy, whereby a dawning from on high will visit us, to shine upon those sitting in darkness and death’s shadow [Isaiah 9:1-2] to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:67-79)

And the little child grew and became mighty in the spirit. He lived in the desert places till the days when he was openly proclaiming to Israel (Luke 1:80)

Discussion Questions

  • Zechariah and Elizabeth were described as righteous and obedient to God’s commandments but were unable to have children for many years. Why do you think God sometimes allows good people to go through difficult situations? How did their faith influence their lives and God’s plan for them?
  • The angel Gabriel delivered important messages to both Zechariah and Mary. How do you think you would react if an angel suddenly appeared to you with a message from God? What does this tell us about God’s ways of communicating with His people?
  • John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born and had a special mission to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. What do you think it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and how can we prepare ourselves and others for Jesus today?
  • Mary showed great faith and humility when she accepted God’s plan for her to be the mother of Jesus, despite her initial fear and confusion. How can we show faith and trust in God when we face unexpected or challenging situations in our own lives?
  • Zechariah was temporarily unable to speak because he doubted the angel’s message. What can we learn from Zechariah’s experience about the importance of faith and trust in God’s promises? How can we strengthen our own faith when we find it difficult to believe in something?
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