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Luke Writes to Theophilus

Many people have written about the things that have happened among us. Those who saw everything from the first and helped teach the Good News have passed these things on to us. Dear Theophilus, I have looked with care into these things from the beginning. I have decided it would be good to write them to you one after the other the way they happened. Then you can be sure you know the truth about the things you have been taught.

An Angel Tells of the Birth of John the Baptist

When Herod was king of the country of Judea, there was a Jewish religious leader named Zacharias. He worked for Abijah. His wife was of the family group of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. They were right with God and obeyed the Jewish Law and did what the Lord said to do. They had no children because Elizabeth was not able to have a child. Both of them were older people.

Zacharias was doing his work as a religious leader for God. The religious leaders were given certain kinds of work to do. Zacharias was chosen to go to the house of God to burn special perfume. 10 Many people stood outside praying during the time the special perfume was burning.

11 Zacharias saw an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar where the special perfume was burning. 12 When he saw the angel, Zacharias was troubled and afraid. 13 The angel said to him, “Zacharias, do not be afraid. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to a son. You are to name him John. 14 You will be glad and have much joy. Many people will be happy because he is born. 15 He will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or any strong drink. Even from his birth, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 Many of the Jews will be turned to the Lord their God by him. 17 He will be the one to go in the spirit and power of Elijah before Christ comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children. He will teach those who do not obey to be right with God. He will get people ready for the Lord.” (A)

Zacharias Does Not Believe the Angel

18 Zacharias said to the angel, “How can I know this for sure? I am old and my wife is old also.” 19 The angel said to him, “My name is Gabriel. I stand near God. He sent me to talk to you and bring to you this good news. 20 See! You will not be able to talk until the day this happens. It is because you did not believe my words. What I said will happen at the right time.”

21 The people outside were waiting. They were surprised and wondered why Zacharias stayed so long in the house of God. 22 When he came out, he could not talk to them. They knew he had seen something special from God while he was in the house of God. He tried to talk to them with his hands but could say nothing. 23 When his days of working in the house of God were over, he went to his home.

The Lord Did What He Promised

24 Some time later Elizabeth knew she was to become a mother. She kept herself hidden for five months. She said, 25 “This is what the Lord has done for me. He has looked on me and has taken away my shame from among men.”

Gabriel Speaks to Mary

26 Six months after Elizabeth knew she was to become a mother, Gabriel was sent from God to Nazareth. Nazareth was a town in the country of Galilee. 27 He went to a woman who had never had a man. Her name was Mary. She was promised in marriage to a man named Joseph. Joseph was of the family of David. 28 The angel came to her and said, “You are honored very much. You are a favored woman. The Lord is with you. *You are chosen from among many women.”

29 When she saw the angel, she was troubled at his words. She thought about what had been said. 30 The angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid. You have found favor with God. 31 See! You are to become a mother and have a Son. You are to give Him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the place where His early father David sat. 33 He will be King over the family of Jacob forever and His nation will have no end.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen? I have never had a man.” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you. The power of the Most High will cover you. The holy Child you give birth to will be called the Son of God.

36 “See, your cousin Elizabeth, as old as she is, is going to give birth to a child. She was not able to have children before, but now she is in her sixth month. 37 For God can do all things.” 38 Then Mary said, “I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel went away from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 At once Mary went from there to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40 She went to the house of Zacharias to see Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary speak, the baby moved in her body. At the same time Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth spoke in a loud voice, “You are honored among women! Your Child is honored! 43 Why has this happened to me? Why has the mother of my Lord come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your voice, the baby in my body moved for joy. 45 You are happy because you believed. Everything will happen as the Lord told you it would happen.”

Mary’s Song of Thanks

46 Then Mary said, “My heart sings with thanks for my Lord. 47 And my spirit is happy in God, the One Who saves from the punishment of sin. 48 The Lord has looked on me, His servant-girl and one who is not important. But from now on all people will honor me. 49 He Who is powerful has done great things for me. His name is holy. 50 The loving-kindness of the Lord is given to the people of all times who honor Him. 51 He has done powerful works with His arm. He has divided from each other those who have pride in their hearts. 52 He has taken rulers down from their thrones. He has put those who are in a place that is not important to a place that is important. 53 He has filled those who are hungry with good things. He has sent the rich people away with nothing. 54 He has helped Israel His servant. This was done to remember His loving-kindness. 55 He promised He would do this to our early fathers and to Abraham and to his family forever.” 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she went to her own home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57 When the time came, Elizabeth gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and family heard how the Lord had shown loving-kindness to her. They were happy for her. 59 On the eighth day they did the religious act of the Jews on the child. They named him Zacharias, after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No! His name is John.” 61 They said to her, “No one in your family has that name.”

62 Then they talked to his father with their hands to find out what he would name the child. 63 He asked for something to write on. He wrote, “His name is John.” They were all surprised and wondered about it. 64 Zacharias was able to talk from that time on and he gave thanks to God.

65 All those who lived near them were afraid. The news of what had happened was told through all the hill country of Judea. 66 And all who heard those words remembered them and said, “What is this child going to be?” For the hand of the Lord was on him.

Zacharias’ Song of Thanks to God

67 Zacharias, the father of John, was filled with the Holy Spirit. He told what was going to happen, saying, 68 “Let us thank the Lord God of Israel. He has bought His people and made them free. 69 He has raised up from the family of David One Who saves people from the punishment of their sins. 70 His holy early preachers told us this long ago. 71 God told us that we should be saved from those who hate us and from all those who work against us. 72 He would show loving-kindness to our early fathers. He would remember His holy promise. 73 God promised this to our early father Abraham. 74 He promised that we would be saved from those who hate us and that we might worship Him without being afraid. 75 We can be holy and right with God all the days of our life.

76 “And you, my son, will be the one who speaks for the Most High. For you will go before the Lord to make the way ready for Him. 77 You will tell His people how to be saved from the punishment of sin by being forgiven of their sins. 78 Because the heart of our God is full of loving-kindness for us, a light from heaven will shine on us. 79 It will give light to those who live in darkness and are under the shadow of death. It will lead our feet in the way of peace.”

80 The child grew and became strong in spirit. He lived in a desert until the day he started to preach to the Jews.

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