Return to The Gospel Of Luke.
Important: This is not a translation or paraphrase, but a story based on Luke 1.
[Note: In the word pronunciations I have made the vowels with a Long Sound bold while the vowels with a short sound are in normal print. Academic Associate students know that the "u" has 3 long sounds. These sounds are separated from each other with a 1, 2 or 3. Sometimes a vowel does not have a sound in a syllable. In dictionaries this is usually shown with a "ə" but I have chosen simply not to show it since it has no sound. Also, when the "r" says it name instead of its normal sound, I have put it in bold. Academic Associate students, of course, know why and when it says its name instead of its sound.]
Many people have written down the things which happened during the lifetime of Jesus because they were told what happened by the people who saw it happen and who lived with Jesus. After carefully investigating [in ves ti gat ing] everything from the very beginning, I, Luke, wanted to write to you exactly what happened so that you could know that the things you were taught were true.
When Herod [Her ud] The Great was king in Judea [Ju2 de u], there lived a priest whose name was Zechariah [Zek u ri u]. His wife's name was Elizabeth [I liz u buth]. Both of them loved God very much and were careful to obey everything God had said in His written Word. But they were sad because they were both getting old and Elizabeth could not have any children.
The priests were divided into groups. Every group took turns serving in the great Temple in Jerusalem [Ju ru2 su lum], the capital of Israel [iz re ul]. Once, while serving in the temple, Zechariah was chosen to go into the Holy part of the Temple to burn incense to God. When it was time to burn the incense all the people waited outside the Temple, worshipping and praying to God, while Zechariah went inside.
As Zechariah was burning the incense, suddenly an angel from God appeared on the right side of the incense altar. Zechariah was shocked and scared to death. He didn't know what to do or say.
The angel saw his fear and quickly said, "Do not be afraid. You have been praying to God for a long time to have a baby. God has heard your prayer and answered it. Elizabeth will have a baby boy! You are to give him the name John. He is going to be a joy and delight to you and your wife. In fact, many people are going to be happy because of his birth. God is going to make him into a great man with a great mission. Because of his mission he is never to drink alcohol and God Himself, as the Holy Spirit, is going to live in him from the day he is born. Many people in Israel who have rejected God, will return to God because of your son. John will have the power and attitude of that great prophet Elijah [I li ju]. John's mission will be to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and cause those who are disobedient to God to want to obey Him. He is going to help the people get ready for when the Saviour [Sav yr] comes."
Even through Zechariah had been praying for a baby what the angel said sounded impossible. He asked doubtfully [dout ful le] , "How can I know this will really happen? I am an old man and my wife is too old to have children now."
The angel did not like being doubted. He answered, "I am Gabriel [Ga bre ul]. I stand in the presence of God. He sent me to give you this good news. You want a sign that I am telling the truth? Very well, because you did not believe me, you will be unable to speak until your son is born..and he will be born at the right time!"
Meanwhile all the people outside the Temple were puzzled. Zechariah was taking much longer than necessary to burn the incense. When Zechariah finally came out they expected him to give the blessing like the priest normally did. Instead, when he tried to speak, no sound came out. He signalled with his hands for something to write with. Then the people knew he had seen a vision in the Temple.
Zechariah finished his turn with his group and then went home. Soon after his wife became pregnant. For five months she kept it a happy secret. She said to herself, "The Lord has done this for me and smiled on me. I can have the joy of having a child and I don't have to be embarrassed in front of the other mothers any more."
When Elizabeth was six month's pregnant, God sent His angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee [Gal u le] named Nazareth [Naz u ruth]. He was to go to a girl named Mary who was engaged to a man named Joseph. God had promised that the Saviour would come from a descendant of King David and Joseph was a descendant of King David.
The angel appeared to Mary and said, "Hello. The Lord God is with you. He has smiled on you and greatly blessed you."
Mary was very concerned about what he said and wondered what he meant.
The angel saw her worried expression and said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, God really likes you! You are going to have a baby boy. I want you to name Him Jesus. Jesus will be great and He will be called the Son of God Almighty. The Lord God is going to give Him the throne King David had and He will rule over Israel forever. In fact, His kingdom will never end."
Mary believed the angel, but she was puzzled, "How can I have a baby when I have never slept with a man?"
The angel explained, "God, the Holy Spirit, is going to do a miracle for you. That way the baby will be called the Son of God. God does do miracles. Even your relative Elizabeth, who everyone said was to old to have a baby, is six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible with God."
Mary bowed in joy and said, "I am willing to do God's will. Let everything happen just as you have said."
Then the angel left her.
Mary wanted to visit her relative right away so she hurried to Elizabeth's home in the hill country of Judea. When she entered Zechariah's home, she greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, her baby leaped inside of her and she will filled with the Holy Spirit.
In a loud joyful voice Elizabeth said, "Mary, you are blessed above all women and blessed is the baby you are going to have. I am honoured [on r d] that the mother of the Saviour should come to visit me. As soon as I heard your voice, John leaped inside of me. He is as excited as I am for you! You will be greatly blessed because you believed what the Lord God said to you through His angel."
The Holy Spirit inspired Mary to create a song:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for He has thought
of the humble position of his servant.
From now on people of all time will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me -
holy is His name!
His mercy goes out to those who respect Him,
and to their children and children's children.
He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inner thoughts.
He has brought down government leaders
but He has lifted up humble people.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but He has sent away the rich with nothing.
He has helped His servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever
even as He promised long ago.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months, then she went home.
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours [na brs] and relatives heard that the Lord has blessed her with a baby and were happy for her.
The eighth day was a special day as the baby was placed under God's covenant blessing and given a name. Those in charge wanted to name the baby "Zechariah" after his father.
Elizabeth spoke up, "No! His name is going to be John."
The officials objected, "There is no one in your family with that name. It is custom to name him after a parent or relative."
Zechariah took a writing tablet and shocked them all by writing, "His name is John."
As soon as he had written that, his speech returned and he could talk again! He began praising God. Everyone there was astonished and all through the hill country of Judea people began talking about what had happened.
They kept asking one another, "With God's blessing on this child, what is he going to do when he grows up? Do you think he will be another prophet?"
On that special day, the Holy Spirit inspired Zechariah to make up and sing a song:
"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has come to save His people.
He has brought the power of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David
(as He said through His holy prophets of long ago),
Salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us -
to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember His holy covenant,
which was the promise He made to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the power of our enemies,
so that we can serve Him without fear
in holiness and righteousness [ri chus nes] before Him all our days.
And you, my child John, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him,
to give His people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun of His blessing will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."
And John grew up and became strong in spirit. He lived in the desert until he came publicly to Israel as a prophet.
Return to The Gospel Of Luke.