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The Birth of John the Baptist Is Foretold

5In the days of King Herod of Judea , there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth . 6Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, and they lived blamelessly according to all of the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7They had no children because Elizabeth was barren and because both of them were getting on in years.

8When Zechariah was serving with his division of priests in God’s presence, 9he was chosen by lot to go into the Sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense, according to the custom of the priests. 10And the entire congregation of people was praying outside at the time when the incense was burned.

11An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the incense altar. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was shaken, and fear overwhelmed him. 13But the angel said to him, “Stop being afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John. 14You will have joy and gladness, and many people will rejoice at his birth. 15For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will never drink wine or any strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16He will bring many of Israel ’s descendants back to the Lord their God. 17He is the one who will go before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, and to prepare the people to be ready for the Lord.”

18Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20But because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at the proper time, you will become silent and unable to speak until the day this happens.”

21Meanwhile, the people kept waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed in the Sanctuary so long. 22But when he did come out, he was unable to speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the Sanctuary. He kept motioning to them but remained unable to speak. 23When the days of his service were over, he went home.

24After this, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and remained in seclusion for five months. She said, 25“This is what the Lord did for me when he looked favorably on me and took away my public disgrace.”

The Birth of Jesus Is Foretold

26Now in the sixth month of her pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth , 27to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” 29She was startled by his statement and tried to figure out what his greeting meant. 30Then the angel told her, “Stop being afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his forefather David. 33He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

34Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had relations with a man?” 35The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. Therefore, the child will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36And listen! Elizabeth, your relative, has herself conceived a son in her old age. This is the sixth month for the woman who was said to be barren. 37For nothing is impossible for God.” 38Then Mary said, “Truly I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you have said happen to me.” Then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39At this time Mary set out hurriedly for a Judean city in the hill country. 40She went into Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth . 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby jumped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “How blessed are you among women, and how blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43Why should this happen to me, to have the mother of my Lord visit me! 44For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45How blessed is this woman for believing that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled!”

Mary’s Song of Praise

46Then Mary said,

“My soul praises the greatness of the Lord!

47 My spirit exults in God, my Savior,

48 for he has looked favorably on his humble servant.

From now on, all generations will call me blessed,

49 because the Almighty has done great things for me.

His name is holy.

50 His mercy lasts from generation to generation

for those who fear him.

51 He displayed his mighty power with his arm.

He scattered people who were proud in mind and heart.

52 He pulled powerful rulers from their thrones

and lifted up humble people.

53 He filled hungry people with good things

and sent rich people away with nothing.

54 He helped his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful,

55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors—

to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

56Now Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

59On the eighth day they went to circumcise the child. They were going to name him Zechariah after his father, 60but his mother said, “Absolutely not! He must be named John.” 61Their friends said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 62So they motioned to the baby’s father to see what he wanted to name him. 63He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And everyone was amazed.

64Suddenly, Zechariah’s mouth was opened, his tongue was set free, and he began to speak and to praise God. 65Fear came over all their neighbors, and throughout the hill country of Judea all these things were being discussed. 66All who heard about it debated in their minds what had happened and said, “What will this child become?” For it was obvious that the hand of the Lord was with him.

The Prophecy of Zechariah

67Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel!

He has taken care of his people and has set them free.

69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us

from the family of his servant David,

70 just as he promised long ago through

the mouth of his holy prophets

71 that he would save us from our enemies

and from the grip of all who hate us.

72 He has shown mercy to our ancestors

and remembered his holy covenant,

73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham.

He granted us 74deliverance from our enemies’grip

so that we could serve him without fear

75 and be holy and righteous before him all of our days.

76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High.

For you will go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways

77 and to give his people the knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins.

78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,

a new day has dawned on us,

79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and in death’s shadow,

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80Now the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit. He lived in the wilderness until the day he appeared in Israel.

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
(Matthew 1:18-25)

1Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be registered. 2This was the first registration taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3So all the people went to their hometowns to be registered.

4Joseph, too, went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was a descendant of the household and family of David. 5He went there to be registered with Mary, who had been promised to him in marriage and was pregnant.

6While they were there, the time came for her to have her baby, 7and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was not any room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds Visit Jesus

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, watching their flock during the night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10Then the angel said to them, “Stop being afraid! Listen! I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. 11Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in the city of David. 12And this will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”

13Suddenly a multitude of the Heavenly Army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people who enjoy his favor!”

15When the angels had left them and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what has taken place that the Lord has told us about.” 16So they went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they repeated what they had been told about this child. 18All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, 19but Mary continued to treasure in her heart all these things and to ponder them. 20Then the shepherds returned to their flock, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.