The angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and announced that Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth, would have a son, whom they should name John. Six months later, the same angel appeared to Mary and announced that she would be the mother of the Son of God. Mary visited Elisabeth, and they rejoiced in the Savior’s coming. Three months later, Elisabeth gave birth to John, who would be known as John the Baptist.
Luke explains the reasons for writing his Gospel
Can you recognize the event portrayed in each of the following pictures? Under each picture, write a description of the event.
Christ in the Temple, by Heinrich Hofmann; courtesy of C. Harrison Conroy Co., Inc.
These represent some of the events and teachings from the Savior’s mortal ministry that were recorded by Luke but are not in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John.
Read Luke 1:1–4, looking for Luke’s reasons for writing this Gospel.
Based on Luke 1:4, what can studying the Gospel of Luke do for you?
The angel Gabriel announces the birth of John to Zacharias, and Elisabeth conceives
How long do you think you can hold your breath? Set a timer for 10 to 30 seconds, and start it when you begin holding your breath, or you could look at the second hand on a clock. If possible, hold your breath until the timer sounds or the time period ends.
What were you thinking during the last few seconds before the timer sounded and the time was completed? How might holding your breath be similar to the anticipation felt while waiting for God’s words to be fulfilled?
Ponder a blessing or answer from God that you are waiting or hoping for. As you study Luke 1, look for truths that can help you when you are waiting for God’s words to be fulfilled in your life.
Read Luke 1:5–7, looking for the blessing Zacharias and Elisabeth had been waiting for during much of their lives.
What do we learn about Zacharias and Elisabeth from these verses?
Zacharias and Elisabeth were both descendants of Aaron, from whom all of the priests and the high priest of Israel were chosen. This means that John was a natural heir of the Aaronic Priesthood and its leadership. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Zacharias was a priest of God, and officiating in the Temple, and John was a priest after his father, and held the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood” (in History of the Church, 5:257).
Luke 1:8–10 records that Zacharias was appointed to burn incense in the Jerusalem temple. This was an honor that came to a priest only once in his life.
Read Luke 1:11–13, looking for what happened while Zacharias was in the temple.
Notice in verse 13 that the angel said, “Thy prayer is heard.” Zacharias and Elisabeth had likely prayed for many years to have a child. You may want to mark this phrase in your scriptures.
How might Zacharias have felt when he heard that he and Elisabeth would have a son even though they were “well stricken in years” (Luke 1:7)?
Read Luke 1:18–20, looking for how Zacharias responded to Gabriel’s message. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that Gabriel was Noah and “stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 104).
Notice what happened to Zacharias because he doubted the angel’s words. Consider marking in verse 20 what the angel said about the words—the message—he had spoken to Zacharias.
One truth we learn from the angel Gabriel is that the Lord’s words spoken through His servants will be fulfilled in their season. “In their season” means according to the Lord’s timing.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How can knowing that the Lord’s words will be fulfilled according to His timing affect how we respond to the Lord’s promises?
How can this truth help someone who longs for a divine promise to be fulfilled?
In Luke 1:21–24 we learn that when Zacharias left the temple, he could not speak. Elisabeth later became pregnant, as the angel had promised.
Read Elisabeth’s words in Luke 1:25, and consider how Elisabeth may have felt as she prepared to have a child. Her statement that the Lord had “take[n] away [her] reproach among men” refers to the shame she had experienced as a childless woman. At this time and in this culture, giving birth was highly esteemed, and being unable to bear a child brought disrespect and a feeling of inferiority.
The angel Gabriel announces the forthcoming birth of Jesus to Mary
In Luke 1:26–27 we learn that in the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, a virgin in Nazareth.
Read Luke 1:28–33, looking for phrases that might have helped Mary understand the importance of the task God was giving her. Consider marking what you find. Jesus is “the Greek form of the name Joshua or Jeshua, ‘God is help’ or ‘savior’” (Bible Dictionary, “Jesus”).
Read Luke 1:34, looking for Mary’s question. Her statement “I know not a man” means she was a virgin.
Read Luke 1:35–37, looking for the angel’s answer to Mary’s question.
We do not know, beyond the accounts in the scriptures, how the miracle of Jesus Christ’s conception happened; we are simply told that it was miraculous and that the child who would be born would be the Son of God.
Notice in Luke 1:37 the truth that the angel stated that helps explain this miraculous event. You may want to mark this in your scriptures.
Ponder some circumstances in which it might feel difficult or even impossible to obey certain commandments. List three or four examples in the space provided: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Consider the truth that with God, nothing shall be impossible. Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What do you think Mary or Elisabeth might say to encourage us if we feel that what the Lord has asked us to do is difficult or impossible? Then write about an experience that has strengthened your belief that nothing is impossible with God.
Read Luke 1:38, looking for how Mary responded to the angel.
What evidence do you see in this verse that Mary believed the angel’s words?
Consider how Mary’s acceptance of the angel’s words differed from Zacharias’s response to the angel’s announcement in the temple. Ponder how you can follow the examples of Mary and Elisabeth by believing that in your own life, nothing the Lord asks of you will be impossible with His help.
Mary visits Elisabeth, and they testify of the Savior
Because of the witness that Elisabeth received from the Holy Ghost, what did she already understand about Mary?
Read Luke 1:46–49, looking for how Mary praised the Lord.
Just as Zacharias, Elisabeth, and Mary each had their own roles to play in the divine plan, we too have important roles designated by the Lord. We learn from this account that if we faithfully try to fulfill the roles the Lord has for us, He can do great things in our lives.
Ponder the roles the Lord wants you to fulfill in His plan, and answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What might happen in your life if you respond to the Lord as Mary did?
President Ezra Taft Benson testified of the blessings of turning our lives over to God and faithfully striving to follow His will: “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).
John the Baptist is born
Luke 1:57–80 explains that after Elisabeth gave birth, Zacharias affirmed in writing that the child should be named John. The name John means “Jehovah is gracious.” At that point he was suddenly able to speak again, and he prophesied about the missions of Jesus Christ and John. As we faithfully fulfill our divinely given roles as Zacharias, Elisabeth, and Mary did, the Lord can also do great things for us and through us. Consider how you can fulfill your own roles in the Lord’s plan.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Luke 1 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: