Luke was a qualified physician (Col. 4:14)
2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
The accounts were not mere 'stories' but were actual events and testimonies made by reliable eye witnesses and ministers of the word. These testimonies are about what God accomplished among them and through them and God's accomplishment continues to this day.
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,
This account written by Luke to Theophilus personally so that he would know that the account was true. It is continued at the conclusion and becomes the book of Acts (see Acts 1:1).
4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Many accounts of Christ had been written, by eye witnesses and Luke had made a careful examination of all these sources of information, and thought it good, having traced all things accurately from the first, to write them out in order .
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.
They lived blameless lives according to the law and commandments of the Lord.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
They were both advancing in years and Elisabeth was unable to conceive.
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.
Zacharias was serving in the temple according to his order and as the priestly custom was, they cast lots to decide which function each priest should perform and it fell to him to go into the temple to burn incense.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
Whilst the incense burned, the crowds of people outside were praying.
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.
When Zacharias saw the angel he was shaken and overwhelmed with fear.
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.
The angel comforts him, that he should not fear for he is a messenger from God and brings him good news. God had heard his and Elizabeth's persistent prayers for a child (Eph. 6:18). Elizabeth is to bear a son and name him John , which means Jehovah's gift. Not only will he be the pride and joy of their lives but many people will be glad that he was born.
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.
He shall be great and will never drink wine or any strong drink (Numbers 6:2-3). He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while he is still in Elizabeth's womb and because of his preaching the Word of God , many people in Israel will repent and return 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.
He shall go forth in the same manner of life and zeal for the truth that Elijah did. Rebuking and exhorting to repentance. Through him many parents and children and those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly shall turn to God (Mal. 4:5-6).
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.
Zacharias could not believe the angel's words so he asked him for proof. He immediately begins to consider what his mind can comprehend and he moves out of faith into what he sees as facts (2 Cor 5:7), He knew that both he and Elizabeth were advanced in years. and to him it was physically impossible to conceive a child, even though there was an angel of God stood talking to him.
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.
The angel confirms who he is in God, his name "Gabriel" means(might (strong's conc). He is the messenger sent directly from the presence of God to bring the good news. Had asked in unbelief for a sign and as a result would not be able to broadcast his unbelief by the word of his mouth , until John is born.
Unbelief causes the word of God to become of no effect (Gal 5:4, Mark 7:13 ) and this declaration will surely come to pass (Rom 3:3).
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.
Gabriel was speaking the very Word of God and as a result of Zacharias not believing the Word of God he was unable to speak.
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,
Six months after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent Gabriel to Mary.
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
She was a virgin promised in marriage to Joseph who was descendent of King David.
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.
These words greatly disturbed her for she could not understand what the angel meant. This is the same angel Gabriel that appeared before Zacharias. But with Mary there is a very different result.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
Six months after Elizabeth had become pregnant. God sent Gabriel to Mary. She was a virgin promised in marriage to Joseph who was descendent of King David.
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?
Mary completely accepts what the angel said and then asks in faith the way in which this will be done?
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.
What seemed impossible with Zacharias. is now about to be brought forth. How is the impossible made possible? Not by man but by the Holy Host. He will bring the promised dream of Our Father into reality, to reclaim the authority that Adam had lost in the garden, God already had His plan for salvation established before eternity (1 Pet 1:19-20) and that plan includesare to be born again into the love in Christ (Eph 1:4). To achieve this and legally enter earth, Jesus had to be born through a woman but not conceived by a man, but by God's Word (the Word is the seed of God), through the Holy Ghost. Now available to us is the full restoration of our inheritance and beyond, that was stolen in the beginning in the garden(Gen 3:21). The thief (satan) has now been caught and must repay 7 times all that he stole (Prov 6:31).
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.
Gabriel tells Mary that her relative Elizabeth is also six months pregnant with John, who becomes John the Baptist. Although elderly and barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Nothing is ever impossible with God (Gen. 18:14).
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
What an amazing woman of faith, at this incredible announcement and knowing that she will be reviled and ostracised for having a child outside of marriage and not to her betrothed but via God through the Holy Spirit. Mary says, let it be done unto me as the Word of God has declared.
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:
This is the first meeting of John the Baptist in Elisabeth with Jesus in Mary, the second will be at the Jordan river when Jesus is baptised by John (Mark 1:9).
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.
At the sound, the Holy Spirit moved upon the unborn child who leapt at the joy that had entered the room.
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.
Quite clearly, Mary termed herself a handmaiden or helper of the Lord and as such was overwhelmed and blessed to be given the honour of 'carrier of Jesus'. To her this was a great honour, she was not the mother of God in Heaven, but was to become the natural mother of the son of God for His legal entrance into this world.
49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
She acknowledges that it is not anything that she has done, or will do but it is the work of Almighty God whose Name is Holy
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.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and left just before the birth of John.
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.
As soon as he had written the command of God given to him by Gabriel, he again walked in faith and obedience and his speech returned and he began praising 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.
A totally different Zacharias now moving in faith by the Holy Spirit, he prophesies from the covenant which God made with Abraham after he offered up his son Isaac (Gen. 22:16-17) and promised to make his descendants more than the stars. From Abraham comes Jesus through Mary a descendant of Abraham (Mat 1:1-17). In Jesus through His death and resurrection from the cross, enables the sons and daughters of mankind through Him, to become the sons and daughters of God.
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;
Zacharias prophesy now turns to John, who will be called the prophet of the Most High. For he will go before the Lord Jesus Christ preparing the way for Him (Mal. 3:1 and Mal. 4:5).
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.
John grew up and become strong in spirit, that is in the knowledge, understanding and strength of the Lord. He lived in isolation in the desert until the time came for him make himself seen and heard to Israel.