Luke  ◦   Chapter 1

1Many people have attempted to write a history of the events that have been fulfilled — 2like the Old Testament Scriptures, which were written down and then handed down to us by those who were eyewitnesses to the events — and served to preserve the truth.3Therefore, since I have personally thoroughly investigated all these things from when they started, I thought it was a good idea to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus,4so that you can be confident knowing that what you have been taught is true and accurate.

5During the reign of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly division of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also a descendant of Aaron.6Both he and his wife trusted God, had renewed hearts, and lived in harmony with God's methods and principles.7But they were childless, as Elizabeth was barren, and both were old and past the normal age for childbearing.

8One day, when Zechariah was serving as priest (because his division was on duty),9he was selected by lot — as was the custom for priests — to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.10When it was time to burn the incense, the worshippers assembled and prayed outside.

11It was then that an angel from God appeared to him. The angel stood on the right side of the golden altar.12Zechariah startled, and was afraid when he saw the angel.13But the angel said to him: "Don't be afraid, Zechariah. I'm here in answer to your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you are to name him John.14He will fill your lives with joy and delight, and many people will rejoice because of his birth,15for he will do a great work for God. He is never to drink wine or any other fermented drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth,16and he will turn the hearts of many people in Israel back to the Lord their God.17He will go before the Lord with the spirit and power that Elijah had. He will proclaim the truth about God’s character of love in order to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and those living outside God’s design parameters of love he will bring back to the wisdom of the righteous — to prepare people to meet the Lord."

18Zechariah, wanting further assurance, asked the angel, "How can I believe this? I am an old man, and my wife is past childbearing age."

19The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in God's very presence, and God sent me to speak to you and tell you this great good news.20Because you did not believe what I have told you, which will come true when the time is right, you will be mute — not speaking a word until the day this happens."

21Outside, the people were concerned, wondering why Zechariah was taking so long in the temple.22When he came out, he was unable to speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, because he used hand gestures; but he remained unable to speak.

23When his time of service was complete, he returned home.24Afterward, his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and remained secluded for five months.25She said joyfully, "The Lord has blessed me! He has taken away my shame and shown me his favor."

26It was the sixth month when God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean town of Nazareth,27to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph who was a descendant of David. The virgin was called Mary.28The angel went to her and said, "Good morning, dear one! You are very special to God, and he is with you."

29Mary was quite unsettled by the angel's words and was trying to figure out what the greeting might mean,30when the angel said to her, "It's okay, you don't have anything to fear. God has chosen you for a great blessing.31You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you must name him Jesus.32He 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,33and he will be the sovereign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom of love will never end."

34Mary was baffled and asked the angel, "But how can this be, since I am a virgin?"

35The angel smiled and said, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will surround you. So understand that the child born to you will be the holy Son of God.36Even your cousin Elizabeth, who is old and barren, is barren no longer. She is six months pregnant and is going to have a son.37Nothing is impossible with God."

38Mary humbly replied, "I am the Lord's and will serve as he desires. Let it be as you have said." Then the angel departed.

39After the visit from the angel, Mary didn't wait around but packed some things and went to a town in the hills of Judea. 40She went straight to Zechariah's home to see Elizabeth.41When Elizabeth heard Mary greet her, the baby in her womb leaped for joy, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.42She proclaimed in a loud voice: "You are blessed among all women of the earth, and the child you bear is also blessed!43But who am I that the mother of my Lord should visit me?44The moment I heard the sound of your greeting, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.45Happiness is yours, because you believe that what the Lord has said will come true."

46Then Mary said: "My heart praises the Lord47and my mind overflows with happiness in God my Savior,48for he thought of me for this mission, lowly as I am. Because of this, all generations will recognize how privileged I am.49The Mighty One, whose character is holy, has done a great thing for me.50His kindness flows out to those who revere him, from one generation to the next.51His arm is powerful to accomplish great things; he confounds the arrogant, those who believe they are great in their own minds.52He has removed despots from their thrones, but has exalted those who humbly trust in him.53Those who hunger for good he fills, but those who believe they are rich and in need of nothing go away empty.54He has remembered his child Israel,55mercifully sending help to Abraham and all his descendants, just as he promised to our ancestors he would."

56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, and then returned home.

57When the time came for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.58Her neighbors and relatives had heard how God had blessed her, and they celebrated with her.59It was the eighth day after the child's birth — the day they came to circumcise him — and the officials were going to name the child Zechariah, after his father.60But Elizabeth objected and said, "No! He is to be named John."

61They inquired, "But why? No one in your family has the name John."

62So they made gestures, asking the father what he wanted to name the child.63He asked for a writing tablet and shocked everyone when he wrote, "His name is John."64Instantly, his mouth was opened and he began to speak praises to God.65Everyone there was filled with awe and word spread throughout Judea about all these events.66Everyone who heard the story began asking, "What will this child grow up to do?" For God had a special purpose for him.

67Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68"Thanksgiving and adoration to the Creator, the God of Israel, because he has come and rescued his people.69The Remedy to heal us he has raised in the family of David,70just as he foretold through his spokespersons of old.71He promised freedom from fear and selfishness, freedom from the power of all who hate us,72to give mercy to our forebears, and fulfill his holy vow to us.73He swore the promise to our ancestor Abraham74to deliver us from our terminal condition and enable us to live for him — no longer controlled by fear75but in purity, selflessness, and love for his glory all of our days.

76 "And you, my son, will be a spokesperson of the Most High God; for you will go before the Lord to prepare the minds of the people to receive him,77to teach the people God's plan to heal humanity by taking away their sinfulness and remitting them back to his perfect ideal.78Our God is so kind, gentle and merciful that he brings the Remedy from heaven, gentle like a sunrise, yet growing ever brighter79to shine into the minds and hearts of those lost in darkness, stumbling in the shadow of death, and to lead us to safety and eternal peace."

80And the child grew and became physically healthy, with a sharp mind and discerning spirit. He lived in the desert until he began his public ministry in Israel.