Luke Writes an Orderly Report
1Many people have attempted to write about the things that have taken place among us. 2Reports of these things were handed down to us. There were people who saw these things for themselves from the beginning and then passed the word on.
3I myself have carefully looked into everything from the beginning. So it seemed good also to me to write down an orderly report of exactly what happened. I am doing this for you, most excellent Theophilus. 4I want you to know that the things you have been taught are true.
The Coming Birth of John the Baptist
5Herod was king of Judea. During the time he was ruling, there was a priest named Zechariah. He belonged to a group of priests named after Abijah. His wife Elizabeth also came from the family line of Aaron. 6Both of them did what was right in God's eyes. They obeyed all the Lord's commandments and rules faithfully. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was not able to have any. And they were both very old.
8One day Zechariah's group was on duty. He was serving as a priest in God's temple. 9He happened to be chosen, in the usual way, to go into the temple of the Lord. There he was supposed to burn incense. 10The time came for this to be done. All who had gathered to worship were praying outside.
11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. The angel was standing at the right side of the incense altar. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was amazed and terrified.
13But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will have a child. It will be a boy, and you must name him John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you. His birth will make many people very glad. 15He will be important in the Lord's eyes.
"He must never use wine or other such drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he is born. 16He will bring many of Israel's people back to the Lord their God. 17And he will prepare the way for the Lord. He will have the same spirit and power that Elijah had. He will teach parents how to love their children. He will also teach people who don't obey to be wise and do what is right. In this way, he will prepare a people who are ready for the Lord."
18Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man, and my wife is old too."
19The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I serve God. I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will have to be silent. You will not be able to speak until after John is born. That's because you did not believe my words. They will come true when the time is right."
21During that time, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out. They wondered why he stayed in the temple so long. 22When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple. They knew this because he kept motioning to them. He still could not speak.
23When his time of service was over, he returned home. 24After that, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She stayed at home for five months. 25"The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days, he has been kind to me. He has taken away my shame among the people."
The Coming Birth of Jesus
26In the sixth month after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. 27He was sent to a virgin. The girl was engaged to a man named Joseph. He came from the family line of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel greeted her and said, "The Lord has given you special favor. He is with you."
29Mary was very upset because of his words. She wondered what kind of greeting this could be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you. 31You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must name him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago. 33He will rule forever over his people, who came from Jacob's family. His kingdom will never end."
34"How can this happen?" Mary asked the angel. "I am a virgin."
35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come to you. The power of the Most High God will cover you. So the holy one that is born will be called the Son of God. 36Your relative Elizabeth is old. And even she is going to have a child. People thought she could not have children. But she has been pregnant for six months now. 37Nothing is impossible with God."
38"I serve the Lord," Mary answered. "May it happen to me just as you said it would." Then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in Judea's hill country. 40There she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby inside her jumped. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she called out, "God has blessed you more than other women. And blessed is the child you will have! 43But why is God so kind to me? Why has the mother of my Lord come to me? 44As soon as I heard the sound of your voice, the baby inside me jumped for joy. 45You are a woman God has blessed. You have believed that what the Lord has said to you will be done!"
"My soul gives glory to the Lord.
47My spirit delights in God my Savior.
48He has taken note of me
even though I am not important.
From now on all people will call me blessed.
49The Mighty One has done great things for me.
His name is holy.
50He shows his mercy to those who have respect for him,
from parent to child down through the years.
51He has done mighty things with his arm.
He has scattered those who are proud in their deepest thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones.
But he has lifted up people who are not important.
53He has filled those who are hungry with good things.
But he has sent those who are rich away empty.
54He has helped the people of Israel, who serve him.
He has always remembered to be kind
55to Abraham and his children down through the years.
He has done it just as he said to our people of long ago."
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she returned home.
John the Baptist Is Born
57The time came for Elizabeth to have her baby. She gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very kind to her. They shared her joy.
59On the eighth day, they came to have the child circumcised. They were going to name him Zechariah, like his father. 60But his mother spoke up. "No!" she said. "He must be called John."
61They said to her, "No one among your relatives has that name."
62Then they motioned to his father. They wanted to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for something to write on. Then he wrote, "His name is John." Everyone was amazed.
64Right away Zechariah could speak again. His first words gave praise to God. 65The neighbors were all filled with fear and wonder. All through Judea's hill country, people were talking about all these things. 66Everyone who heard this wondered about it. And because the Lord was with John, they asked, "What is this child going to be?"
67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit. He prophesied,
68"Give praise to the Lord, the God of Israel!
He has come and set his people free.
69He has acted with great power and has saved us.
He did it for those who are from the family line of his servant David.
70Long ago holy prophets said he would do it.
71He has saved us from our enemies.
We are rescued from all who hate us.
72He has been kind to our people.
He has remembered his holy covenant.
73He made an oath to our father Abraham.
74He promised to save us from our enemies,
so that we could serve him without fear.
75He wants us to be holy and godly as long as we live.
76"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God.
You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the way for him.
77You will tell his people how they can be saved.
You will tell them that their sins can be forgiven.
78All of that will happen because our God is tender and caring.
His kindness will bring the rising sun to us from heaven.
79It will shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death.
It will guide our feet on the path of peace."
80The child grew up, and his spirit became strong. He lived in the desert until he appeared openly to Israel.