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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Births of John the Baptist and Jesus are Foretold by Gabriel

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 1:1 - 25
  • Luke 1:25 - 56
Read Bible Passages Online

Luke 1:1 - 56
I started reading Luke with the expectation that the reading would begin with an account of Jesus (his birth, his baptism, etc) but instead, Luke opens up with the story of how John the Baptist was conceived. 

The parents of John the Baptist were Zechariah, a priest, and Elizabeth -- a relative of Mary, mother of Jesus.  Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were getting old, and the couple had been unable to have children, yet continued to serve the Lord. 

Zechariah was serving the Lord in the temple when Gabriel, the Lord's angel, appeared to him.  Gabriel told Zechariah that his wife would soon give him a son.  This son would be named John, and would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth.  John would be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah.  John would turn people towards the Lord and prepare people for the coming of the Lord. 

After Gabriel told Zechariah all of this, Zechariah's response was one of doubt.  He asked Gabriel how he could be sure of this -- after all, him and his wife were old.  Gabriel rebuked Zechariah for his lack of faith, and as punishment, Zechariah would be mute until John was born.

My reading for today technically stopped here, but I didn't want to stop, so I kept on.  Next, we told how Mary received Gabriel and was told of the pregnancy.  She was to name the baby Jesus, and the Lord would give Jesus the throne of his ancestor David and would be called the Son of the Most High. 

When Mary asked how this was to happen, she was told that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and therefore the baby would be holy and called the Son of God.  Gabriel then tells Mary that her relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son.  That surprised me, because until then I was unaware that Mary and the mother of John the Baptist were related.  I tried to find out what their exact relationship was, but my version only says relative.  My study bible notes that the KJV says "cousin", but that the Greek term actually written was more general, so the word "relative" was chosen instead for this translation.  Regardless, they were related.

Mary then visited Elizabeth,  We are told that as soon as Mary arrived to greet Elizabeth, the baby inside Elizabeth jumped and filled her with the Holy Spirit, causing her to prophecy.  She told Mary that she had been blessed above all other women, and the child inside her would be blessed.  The reading then ends with Mary praising the Lord, in Psalm-like fashion.

I learned a lot today in 56 short verses -- less than a chapter in the Gospel of Luke.  It still amazes me that the bible can continually teach me so many things in such a short time frame.  When I started Luke, my thoughts were that I'd pretty much have a rehash of what I've read so far in Matthew and Mark.  Right off the bat I saw that I was wrong.  And I'm thankful for that.  It's exciting to learn all the little things that I otherwise wouldn't know, like Mary and Elizabeth being related, or Zechariah being struck mute for not believing the angel.  I can't wait to learn more!

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