Luke 1

John, the forerunner of Jesus, came to earth by divine appointment and arrangement. Jesus, the Christ was born of a virgin, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and was therefore the Son of God to whom was promised the throne of His father, David.

1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

5 ¶ There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

57 Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.

59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.

66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;

77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,

78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,

79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Luke 1:1-12 – The Beginning of the Good News

   The opening verses are very explicit. They are answer enough to those who question the story of our Lord’s supernatural birth and early years. Luke did not catch up the first legend that floated past him. He made searching inquiry.
   That our Lord should come into our race under special and supernatural conditions was as it should have been; but the historicity of this story largely rests on the careful investigations of “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14), who was authenticated by Paul.
   The priests were divided into 24 courses, and shared the Temple services for a week each, the work of each priest being decided by lot, I Chronicles 24. Sweeter than the incense which he sprinkled on the coals, was Zacharias’ own prayer, commemorated in the name given to his son, “God’s gracious gift,” Exodus 30:7-8; Revelation 8:3, etc. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Luke 1:13-25 – The Forerunner

   As we open this Gospel we feel the wealth of a new age. The country was full of anarchy, misrule and wild passion, but there were many who “spake often one to another,” Malachi 3:16. They were the quiet in the land, who “looked for redemption in Jerusalem” Luke 2:38.
   The separation of the Nazirite was in ordinary cases temporary and voluntary; but Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist were Nazirites from their birth. As the leper was the living symbol of sin, so was the Nazirite of holiness. No alcohol, no razor, no ceremonial defilement, Numbers 6. The mission of the Baptist was to bring back the ancient spirit of religion and prepare Messiah’s way.
   Notice Gabriel’s great and noble position of standing before God, and compare I Kings 10:8; I Kings 17:1; Luke 21:36. Unbelief robs us of the power of testimony for Jesus. But when faith is in full exercise, the tongue of the dumb sings. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Luke 1:26-38 – The Promised Messiah

   The narrative is artlessly simple and natural and is its own complete vindication. No human genius could have invented it. Compare it, for instance, with all the ornate and fantastic pictures of the Annunciation by the great masters! That little children and wise men alike appreciate this story bespeaks its humanness and its divineness.
   It is to the humble and childlike maiden that the supreme honor of womanhood is given. The choice was one of pure grace. The Creator-Spirit Himself wrought this divine miracle. The appearance of our Savior among mankind was the direct and immediate act of Deity, so far as His body was concerned, but as to His spirit, it was the voluntary emptying on His own part, of which Paul speaks, Philippians 2:7. “The Word was made flesh.” It was not a transient assumption of the appearance of humanity, but a real fusion of the divine and the human in that holy thing which was to be born. Here was the beginning of a new humanity, to be reproduced in all that believe, till the earth is filled with the “sons of God,” Romans 8:14. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Luke 1:38—Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

   The angel’s message meant, for this young, purehearted girl, a great deal of misunderstanding and reproach. It was inevitable that clouds would gather around her character, which would sorely perplex the good man to whom she was betrothed. But as soon as she realized that this lot was ordained for her by God she humbly acquiesced, with these model words of patient faith. Let us often say them:–
   First: To his commands.—God’s voice often speaks within our hearts, and no word of his is devoid of power. We must test what seems to be his voice by these three corroborations:—First, his Word; second, by the trend of outward circumstances; third, by the advice of Christian people not immediately interested. When these concur, we may take it that God has spoken to us, and whatever the burden of his words we must respond—Be it unto me according to thy word.
   Secondly: To the responsibilities thrust on us.—It may be a trusteeship for some dying friend; a charge of orphan children; a babe cast on our parentage; an invalid; a difficult and trying piece of Christian enterprise. But whenever it comes on us, imposed by the evident appointment of our Father, notwithstanding the shrinking of our flesh and the fearfulness of our soul, we must say: Be it unto me according to thy word.
   Thirdly: To any burden of pain and suffering.—Are you one whom God has set apart to manifest the power of his grace in suffering and pain? Are you sleepless by night, and helpless by day? Are you likely to spend years in one position, as paralysed or rheumatic? Well, still dare to look up and say: Be it unto me according to thy word. —Our Daily Homily

Luke 1:39-56 – The Song of the Virgin Mother

   Zacharias lived in a Levitical city in the hill country of Judah. The narrative evidently implies that there had been no previous communication between the two women of what had happened. In their greeting both were led and taught of the Spirit.
   Evidently Mary was living in close familiarity with the Scriptures. Often she had been deeply moved by their radiant promises, and had pleaded that God would at last help His people and send the Savior. Now that this blessing had come to her, she voiced her thanks, not only under the express inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but in the familiar expressions of Scripture. No others would have sufficed. Compare Hannah’s song of praise, under similar circumstances, I Samuel 2:1-10. Wonder and praise, humility and exultation, adoration and congratulation—these colors chase one another in the heart of this jewel. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Luke 1:45

   Yes, it is the performance that is so often lacking, because the faith is not forthcoming on our part. We admire the green pastures of God’s word, but fail to lie down and rest our souls upon them. We are caught in the Slough of Despond, and never see the steps of promise, all ready there to guide us out. We are shut up in Doubting Castle, and the key of God’s promise lies rusty and unused. We lose heart, and faint, and give up the fight, when one taste of the rich cordial of God’s promises would give us fresh life and vigor.
   How much simpler our lives would be, how powerful and free from care and worry, if we only believed that in Christ there is all we need to satisfy every longing of our heart, to make us thoroughly happy and useful and holy. (F.S. Webster)

Luke 1:57-80 – The Song at the Herald’s Birth

   This song is second only to that of Mary. It is a noble ode, tracing our Lord’s advent back to the early covenant of God with the fathers and anticipating its effects to the end of time.
   It is wholesome to apply the song to ourselves and ask how far we have participated in these great blessings. Are we experiencing this daily salvation from our spiritual enemies, who hate us? Do we serve God without the slavish fear of the serf, and with the loyal allegiance of the child? Are all our days characterized by holiness toward God and righteousness toward man? Has the “dayspring from on high” (Luke 1:78) visited our hearts and are our feet walking in the way of peace? Solemn questions these, but they must be faced. —Through the Bible Day by Day