Monday, May 19, 2008

Mary and Elizabeth Receive Great News

Luke Writes About Jesus’ Life

Luke 1

1Many have tried to report on the things that happened among us. 2They have
written the same things that we learned from others—the people who saw those
things from the beginning and served God by telling people his message. 3Since I
myself have studied everything carefully from the beginning, most excellent£
Theophilus, it seemed good for me to write it out for you. I arranged it in order
4to help you know that what you have been taught is true.

Zechariah and Elizabeth

5During the time Herod ruled Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah who
belonged to Abijah’s group. Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, came from the family
of Aaron. 6Zechariah and Elizabeth truly did what God said was good. They did
everything the Lord commanded and were without fault in keeping his law. 7But
they had no children, because Elizabeth could not have a baby, and both of them
were very old.

8One day Zechariah was serving as a priest before God, because his group
was on duty. 9According to the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to go
into the Temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10There were a great many people
outside praying at the time the incense was offered. 11Then an angel of the Lord
appeared to Zechariah, standing on the right side of the incense table. 12When he
saw the angel, Zechariah was startled and frightened. 13But the angel said to him,
“Zechariah, don’t be afraid. God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth,
will give birth to a son, and you will name him John. 14He will bring you joy and
gladness, and many people will be happy because of his birth. 15John will be a
great man for the Lord. He will never drink wine or beer, and even from birth, he
will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16He will help many people of Israel return to
the Lord their God. 17He will go before the Lord in spirit and power like Elijah.
He will make peace between parents and their children and will bring those who
are not obeying God back to the right way of thinking, to make a people ready
for the coming of the Lord.”

18Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know that what you say is true? I
am an old man, and my wife is old, too.”

19The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand before God, who sent me to
talk to you and to tell you this good news. 20Now, listen! You will not be able to
speak until the day these things happen, because you did not believe what I told
you. But they will really happen.”

21Outside, the people were still waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that
he was staying so long in the Temple. 22When Zechariah came outside, he could
not speak to them, and they knew he had seen a vision in the Temple. He could
only make signs to them and remained unable to speak. 23When his time of
service at the Temple was finished, he went home.

24Later, Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and did not go out of
her house for five months. Elizabeth said, 25“Look what the Lord has done for
me! My people were ashamed of me, but now the Lord has taken away that

An Angel Appears to Mary

26During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to
Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man
named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28The angel came
to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”

29But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this
greeting might mean.

30The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his
grace. 31Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will
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 King David, his ancestor. 33He will
rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

34Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?”

35The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the
power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and
will be called the Son of God. 36Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant
with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby,
but she has been pregnant for six months. 37God can do anything!”

38Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!”
Then the angel went away.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39Mary got up and went quickly to a town in the hills of Judea. 40She came to
Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s
greeting, the unborn baby inside her jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the
Holy Spirit. 42She cried out in a loud voice, “God has blessed you more than any
other woman, and he has blessed the baby to which you will give birth. 43Why
has this good thing happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
44When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy. 45You are
blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really

Mary Praises God

46Then Mary said,

“My soul praises the Lord;

47my heart rejoices in God my Savior,

48because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl.

From now on, all people will say that I am blessed,

49because the Powerful One has done great things for me.

His name is holy.

50God will show his mercy forever and ever

to those who worship and serve him.

51He has done mighty deeds by his power.

He has scattered the people who are proud

and think great things about themselves.

52He has brought down rulers from their thrones

and raised up the humble.

53He has filled the hungry with good things

and sent the rich away with nothing.

54He has helped his servant, the people of Israel,

remembering to show them mercy

55as he promised to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his children forever.”

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

The Birth of John

57When it was time for Elizabeth to give birth, she had a boy. 58Her neighbors
and relatives heard how good the Lord was to her, and they rejoiced with her.

59When the baby was eight days old, they came to circumcise him. They
wanted to name him Zechariah because this was his father’s name, 60but his
mother said, “No! He will be named John.”

61The people said to Elizabeth, “But no one in your family has this name.”
62Then they made signs to his father to find out what he would like to name him.

63Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John,” and
everyone was surprised. 64Immediately Zechariah could talk again, and he began
praising God. 65All their neighbors became alarmed, and in all the mountains of
Judea people continued talking about all these things. 66The people who heard
about them wondered, saying, “What will this child be?” because the Lord was
with him.

Zechariah Praises God

67Then Zechariah, John’s father, was filled with the Holy Spirit and

68“Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has come to help his people and has given them freedom.

69He has given us a powerful Savior

from the family of God’s servant David.

70He said that he would do this

through his holy prophets who lived long ago:

71He promised he would save us from our enemies

and from the power of all those who hate us.

72He said he would give mercy to our fathers

and that he would remember his holy promise.

73God promised Abraham, our father,

74that he would save us from the power of our enemies

so we could serve him without fear,

75being holy and good before God as long as we live.

76“Now you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God.

You will go before the Lord to prepare his way.

77You will make his people know that they will be saved

by having their sins forgiven.

78With the loving mercy of our God,

a new day from heaven will dawn upon us.

79It will shine on those who live in darkness,

in the shadow of death.

It will guide us into the path of peace.”

80And so the child grew up and became strong in spirit. John lived in the
desert until the time when he came out to preach to Israel.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version


Elizabeth was the wife of a priest named Zacharias. She was selected by God to give birth to John the Baptist whom Jesus called the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. John met the conditions necessary to be identified as the prophet whose appearance preceded the establishment of God’s earthly kingdom (Mal. 4:5, 6).

Elizabeth and Zacharias had a warm and loving relationship. They were old and childless would have been grounds for divorce and a remarriage. Yet, through many long years the two had clung together.

We are told that the angel said to Zacharias, “Your prayer is heard” (1:13). Despite the couple’s age Zacharias had not ceased praying for a child, which was so important to every Jewish woman. Zacharias’s continuing prayer indicates not only his love for Elizabeth but also the couple’s continuing trust in God.

A final indication of the nature of Elizabeth’s relationship with Zacharias is found in verses 59-64. Elizabeth announced that her newborn child’s name was to be John. The surprise of the guests at the circumcision reflects that most children were named after a relative. Elizabeth’s confirmation of the name announced for the infant by the angel (1:13) simply reflects that this couple lived in complete harmony.

In Elizabeth we see a mature believer whose years of disappointment deepened rather than destroyed her faith. Elizabeth was able to maintain a close walk with God through many years despite unanswered prayer and also to maintain a close relationship with her husband. Her maturity was also displayed in her relationship with Mary, her much younger relative. When God revealed to Elizabeth the role for which Mary had been chosen, Elizabeth simply rejoiced with her, humbled at the privilege of being visited by the mother of One she recognized as her Lord. In each mention of Elizabeth, her maturity shone through.


When Mary was a teenager betrothed to an older man named Joseph, the angel Gabriel announced to her that she had been chosen by God to give birth to the promised Messiah. Mary responded with simple faith, accepting the privileged role despite the fact that her pregnancy would seem to Joseph to mark unfaithfulness and might mark her as a harlot in her community. God guarded Mary’s reputation and sent the angel to speak to Joseph.

Mary and Joseph were wed, but they had no sexual relations until after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Many unusual events were associated with that birth. Mary remembered and treasured these events. During the thirty years Jesus lived with the family and carried on Joseph’s trade. Mary and Joseph provided a home and a number of brothers and sisters for Jesus. While Mary had confidence in her oldest Son, when Jesus began His public ministry, Mary and the rest of her family was devastated when Christ was crucified; her heart must have been broken as she stood nearby and watched His sufferings at Calvary. Yet Mary, perhaps more than any other, was thrilled at Jesus’ resurrection. The last mention of Mary in the Bible pictures her with other believers. They were praying in Jerusalem after Christ’s ascension, waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Some mistakenly cast Mary as the “mother of God.” She was indeed the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. However, God the Son existed from eternity; Mary was the source only of Jesus’ human nature. Even so, it is appropriate that we honor Mary and the faith she displayed throughout her life. Mary was a truly remarkable woman; her faith and faithfulness set an example for us all.

(From Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards).

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