38 verses total: Luke 1:1-38
Brief description of action taking place or point being made
4. Gabriel announces John’s birth in Luke 1:1-25
5. Gabriel visits Mary in Luke 1:26-38
1. What is your favorite verse or set of verses? Why?
2. Did you learn anything from the reading or find anything particularly cool? What?
3. Was there anything unclear in the passage that you have questions about? What are they?
After Completing the Bible Reading
Broader outline of each section of passage
Luke 1:1-25. This passage starts with the author, Luke, giving an introduction to the entire Gospel to Theophilus. Then it introduces Zechariah and Elizabeth, an elderly childless couple with priestly lineage. While ministering before the Lord, the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and announces that they will have a child. He is to be called John, and his purpose is to prepare the people to receive the messiah. Zechariah doubts Gabriel, and as a sign, Zechariah became mute for the duration of the pregnancy.
Luke 1:26-38. The same angel appears to a virgin named Mary who was engaged to a man named Joseph. Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child who would be called the Son of God, Jesus. Mary, after a question to clarify things, embraces this call on her life, and the angel departs.
Special teaching on Jewish worship, particularly as practiced in Luke 1
In order to better understand the context of this passage, the reader should understand that during the life of Moses, the first tabernacle was built. This was in a very real sense the place where God dwelt on earth, and where people would come to offer sacrifices and to pray. Several hundred years later, when Solomon was king in Jerusalem, he built a magnificent temple, which was destroyed centuries after its construction when Jerusalem was conquered and the Jewish people were taken into captivity. During Jesus’ day, Herod had rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem.
The key feature of the tabernacle and temples was that there were areas designated for different classes of people. There was an area for non-Jews to pray, one for Jewish people to pray, and then there were two areas where only priests could go. One was the Holy Place, where a designated priest could enter each day. The other was the Holy of Holies (or Most Holy Place), where only the High Priest could enter on the Day of Atonement.
To serve in the temple, one had to be of the tribe of Levi, one of the 12 sons of Israel (also known as Jacob). To serve at the altar, however, one had to be a descendant of Aaron, who was himself a descendent of Levi, and who was also the brother of Moses and the first priest. Sometimes we distinguish them as calling them Levites (all descendants of Levi) and priests (male descendants of Aaron of a certain age to be able to serve).
This passage in Luke 1 tells us that both Elizabeth and Zechariah were descendants of Aaron. Some suggest that given the number of eligible priests during that day, this may be the only day in the life of Zechariah that he would have served in the Holy Place.
My favorite passage and other random thoughts
My favorite verse from this passage is Luke 1:16, which says, “He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” (ESV). This was spoken by the angel Gabriel, telling about the things that John the Baptist would do. I think that if an angel foretold that I would turn many people to the Lord, I would greatly rejoice in having such a calling, and if they told me that about my children, I would also greatly rejoice. How beautiful to be able to turn people back to God?!